After several months of swirling rumors about DICE’s next entry into their Battlefield series, the presumed Battlefield 5, leaked marketing materials have undercut the game’s official announcement this afternoon by confirming the setting, release date, and title – Battlefield 1.
For my money, Battlefield has always been the weird, twice-removed brother of the modern family of blockbuster AAA first-person shooters. While they are, yes, another set of military FPS in the vein of Call of Duty, DICE has consistently insisted on taking strange left turns with the direction of their series. When asked to compete with the dawn of the Modern Warfare juggernaut, they responded with a military satire (Bad Company) and directly attacking the story and mechanics of Modern Warfare 2 (Bad Company 2). When going straight-laced in Battlefield 3 and 4, DICE still insisted on including material that, compared to its contemporaries, feels downright rebellious. Battlefield 3 asks you to kill a (completely non-traitorous) United States soldier in order to complete the game. The fourth entry puts you in the middle of a Chinese rebellion where you are distinctly the bad guys.
All of this to say that, given the trend of the first-person shooter (and Call of Duty especially) toward outright science-fiction, it makes complete sense to me that DICEs next Battlefield takes place in World War I.
The above is a marketing leak for Battlefield 1 that appeared on Reddit, which was set to be announced today via an official trailer. Yes, Battlefield 1 is the official title, which I personally find clever more than anything else. At least they didn’t just call it “Battlefield” or “The Battlefield,” which is the usual trend of titles these days. Between the sweet cape, Mauser pistol, and gigantic looming Zeppelin, we appear to be staring down the barrel of the first AAA scale depiction of The Great War. Also worth noting is that teasers have appeared for this on the Xbox One dashboard, hinting that the lead console for this entry will be the Xbox One. And of course there’s the release date – October 18, 2016, just before Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare takes us to the stars.
It is tempting to crack jokes about how Battlefield 1 will consist entirely of you sitting in a trench waiting to die, but World War I is more interesting than you might initially believe. It was the first war in which all the modern tools of combat were introduced, but before the world’s strategists really knew how to use them or standardize them, resulting in the strangest war of the 20th century. And while World War I did have its fair share of sitting in trenches waiting to charge into no man’s land, consider this – creativity thrives through limitations. It was in the limits of World War II that Battlefield made its legacy for absurd mulitplayer stories and strategies. With less room to maneuver, who knows what DICE will put in place to make The War to End All Wars enthralling. It’s not technically retreating, as they say, if you’re advancing in the opposite direction.