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Battlefield 1 and the difficulty of World War I as a theme

Arts & Entertainment

By Phillip Morrical

World War One themed video games are scarce in comparison to World War Two themed video games[1]. The reasons for the lack of WWI video games is mainly due to how difficult it is to make a fun WWI game while being true to history.

Background

The reasons of how WWI started are a very complex series of events[2] that is difficult to convey in the medium of video games. WWI is also hard to sensationalize because there were no clear good or bad guys. WWI was only a small dispute before it escalated to a massive scale. In contrast WWII is the polar opposite of WWI’s setting[2.5]. WWII was about an evil trying for world domination, it is easy to explain and adds fun in killing clear antagonists. Another supporting factor is how most games have end goals. Whether that goal is stopping a large invasion [3] to protect your country, or conquering the world[4], in WWI there was nothing to gain or lose for either of the countries in the initial conflict.

Gameplay

Multiplayer: Multiplayer gameplay in a WWI setting is very difficult to pull off without straying away from realism and historical accuracy. WWI battles are the complete opposite of what gamers want[5], gamers want fast paced gameplay, quick thinking, and a lot of action. Gamers do not want to sit in a trench all day. WWII battles are completely different, from storming the beach of Normandy to air raids in the Pacific, battles are intense.

Single Player: While The Great War was very grim, a single player campaign set in WWI is definitely a less daunting task to pull off than multiplayer. With the possible ability to switch to different exciting events, with the boring parts snipped out (done in previous battlefield games[6]), this can make it more exciting, by switching over to the ‘highlights’ of the war, instead of being focused on one front or on one character.

General Gameplay: The battlefield series has always been full of innovation in the mechanics department. Initially with the chaos of having up to 128 people fighting at once in Battlefield: 1942[7], to the destruction of environment in Battlefield: Bad Company[8]. BF1 could introduce new mechanics to solve these problems. If not, destructible environments still might be enough. Heavy artillery could cause trenches to collapse, or shelling might be able to cause craters large enough for players to hide in. These possible mechanics would make gameplay dynamic and would keep a player excited.

Environmental: Two teams, in two different trenches, with a field in between would most likely be extremely boring. If one team does a charge, that team would get mowed down by mounted machine guns. Gameplay would be sluggish if the trench warfare was unaccompanied. However, this most likely would not be the case. For example, in Battlefield 4 players are able to trigger ‘Levolution’ moments causing the map to transform, this change causes the pace of the game to change as well[9]. Some levolutions could introduce artillery that could be activated, or map wide mustard gas. With activatable levolutions it would make trench warfare exciting.

Conclusion

The theme of WWI in video games is a difficult and almost untouched theme[10]. There is a lot of potential to showcase new ideas, but it is usually difficult for games of this setting to remain fun and accurate to history at the same time. In turn, this sets many problems for BF1 to overcome. It will be interesting to see if the developers are able to conquer these obstacles and make a memorable title.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citations

[1] GiantBomb

.giantbomb.com/world-war-ii/3015-471/games

[2]

Worldology Build up to World War I

worldology.com/Europe/pre_world_war.htm

[2.5]

The History Place World War II in Europe

historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/ww2time.htm

[3]

Valve Software Homefront

store.steampowered.com/agecheck/app/55100

[4]

Valve Software Europa Universalis IV

store.steampowered.com/app/236850

[5]

Nicholas Murray, 1914 1918 Online Attrition Warfare

encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/attrition_warfare

[6]

IGN Campaign Walkthrough

ign.com/wikis/battlefield-3/Campaign_Walkthrough

[7]

BFMods 128 Players

bfmods.com/viewtopic.php?f=54&t=1012&start=20

[8]

“Battlefield: Bad Company Destruction Demo”Youtube, uploaded byeminemSWEs kanal youtube.com/watch?v=7vwiT1G9350

[9]

IGN Wiki

ign.com/wikis/battlefield-4/Levolution

[10]

Wikipedia List of WWI video games

            en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_War_I_video_games

 

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