BATTLEFIELD 1’s change of scenery to World War I is a refreshing change for the series but its lack of emotional and moral depth leaves it feeling like a missed opportunity.
It probably seems weird to harp about the depth of a Battlefield game’s story considering the series mainly markets itself on its multiplayer and high octane military empowerment fantasy gameplay.
But World War I is such rarely visited territory for video games, I feel a more complicated and daring story would be a good way to show games as a serious creative medium.
Weirdly, though, I think EA DICE knew this because the prologue of the singleplayer campaign ends with an American soldier and a German soldier aiming their guns at each other, surveying the endless destruction and agony around them and just putting their weapons down.
That’s how it starts, but how it continues is through a series of vignettes following different Allied soldiers unthinkingly slaughtering their way through the armies of Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.
While each story features good voice actors and Hollywood-style action, there’s no twists or turns, no interesting characters and no reflection on the game’s part about the morals of a conflict that sent millions of people to their deaths as part of political games between the European powers.
It’s disappointing given that, stylistically and technically, the game is amazing.
The models and graphics are excellent, the weapons feel varied and interesting, the sound design is music to my ears and the big action set pieces are enthralling. The multiplayer is exciting and a ton of fun when I’m not dying three seconds after spawning.
All of this should have been fertile soil for an action-packed but emotionally rich story, but that opportunity was squandered to create an extended tutorial for the multiplayer.
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