I’m in the charred ruins of what was a french town in the year 1918, Germans is pouring through each sector, overrunning the Americans and overrunning the British, I take plenty out as I hold the frontline in the face of defeat and streams of fire pour through the windows until I die. The screen shows a memorial plague and then we’re off: To another soldier who will be killed on the frontlines of France.
This is the opening to Battlefield 1, a game where it’s pretty hard to swallow what you’re seeing on the screen. This is War Stories, the campaign to Battlefield 1 which is an anthology on redemption, oppression, heroism, and death. This introduction sets the tone of and challenges us to the thought of a World War I era game and it shows small snapshots of what was like for both sides of the war, it was total hell. Personally, it’s an effective way to show what World War I was possibly like.
Let’s set aside the Prologue now and go into the depths of the Campaign. Battlefield 1’s introduction had me on the edge of my seat and had me thinking of what DICE is doing and I play through Mud and Blood which is about a British tank crew in 1918, this second glimpse into the War Stories gives me hope that DICE might actually try to give it their best at crafting a campaign for the rest of the journey.
The series since Battlefield 3 has had pretty unremarkable campaigns and very boring campaigns that didn’t mean much to me or anyone else who actually played the campaign, it was there to just set you up for the multiplayer but this feels different. It actually feels like a campaign and it actually feels interesting, the crew’s relationship with the tank feels real. It’s their job and one wrong move could spell disaster, as the tank breaks down, I am to find plugs.
Finding plugs isn’t interesting at all but it leads to some stealth sections, I always enjoyed stealth but was horrible at executing them, so I find a silenced sniper rifle and I pick off the Germans one by one until I am spotted and I have to fight the remaining soldiers, until I find the plugs.
So far, I’m 2nd of the way through the campaign. First, I did Gallipoli which was interesting and pretty powerful then I did the mission which I described above. The major complaint, I have is the pacing of the campaign. Each chapter offers different playstyles but in doing so, it overstays it’s welcome and that’s a shame because the campaign is well written and actually stirs something in you that you haven’t felt in a while.
I truly believe that besides this issue, DICE has hit a nail on the head regarding the War Stories, which is fiction based on true stories. Great fiction is based on realities and this is great fiction about World War I, it tell stories that can be serious, make you feel emotions, and can make you laugh and it doesn’t feel cheap. The settings of the campaign make me yearn for a WW2 game, everything reminds me of games like Medal of Honor or Battlefield 1942 or Call of Duty 2, and DICE has created is something fresh that can be replayable and it isn’t the same thing. We don’t need to storm Omah Beach for the 100th time, we don’t need to parachute into Normandy again, and we don’t need to fight through Berlin again, everything feels fresh here.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the campaign and I’m ready for another WWII or WWI game in the next couple of years. I’m ready for the past again, I’m ready to learn about History again.