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Letters from the Front

Battlefield™ 1 (3)

( Played on Conquest Assault.)

By 1916, Allied war strategy for the year was decided at the Chantilly Conference in December 1915. Simultaneous offensives on all fronts were to be carried out to deny time for the Central Powers to move troops and supplies between fronts. In December 1915, Sir Douglas Haig replaced Field Marshal Sir John French as Commander-in-Chief of the BEF. Haig favored a British offensive in Flanders to route the Germans back and put an end to the U-Boat threat in Belgian waters. Haig was not a subordinate of Joseph Joffre but the British played a lesser role on the Western Front and agreed to French military strategy. Joffre had agreed to the British forces making it’s main push in Belgium , but in February 1916 it was decided to mount a combined offensive at the River Somme before the British offensive in Flanders. A week later, the Germans assaulted Verdun and the costly defense of the city forced the French to commit divisions that were originally intended for the Somme offensive for the defense of Verdun. By May, the ambitious plan for a decisive victory on the Western Front had been reduced to a limited offensive to relieve the pressure from the French at Verdun with a battle of attrition along the Somme River.

At the end of the Somme Offensive, survivors gained experience and the BEF learned how to conduct mass industrial warfare, which the French and the Germans had been fighting since 1914.  The British-French forces had advanced 6 miles deep into German-held territory, taking more ground than in any of their offensives since The Battle of the Marne. However, the British-French forces failed to capture Péronne and halted 3 miles from Bapaume, where the Germans would regroup for the winter. In winter 1917, the British resumed their offensives in the Ancre and forced the Germans into local withdrawals to reserve lines the following month, before they returned back to the Siegfriedstellung.

The Battle of the Somme is notable for the importance of air power and the first usage of the tank. Still to this day, a century later, the Somme is a  black day in the history of the British Commonwealth. In 2016, Britain observed a two minute silence to mark the beginning of the battle. A special ceremony was then broadcasted on the BBC and all radio stations participated in the silence.

Battlefield™ 1 (2)

The River Somme is a large map that is only playable once again on Conquest Assault, the returning game mode from Turning Tides, the third expansion pack to Battlefield 1. The map is mainly infantry focused with large usage of vehicles which can only be used with the British side, it’s a true representation of the fighting that was seen at the Somme. The River Somme is a large map with open fields, a suspicious looking farmhouse, and alot of trenches for cover, it’s one of those maps that Battlefield 1 has plenty of: large open spaces with little to no cover, but this map has a good decent amount of cover. It’s absolutely breathtaking, the Frostbite Engine really shines here as it brings the Somme to life.

In River Somme, the flags are linear and once again the Germans do start off with all the flags capped as the British must attack and capture the flags to catch up on the scoreboard. As I said, Conquest Assault is the only mode playable on this map and like always it doesn’t work and it never suited this game unlike previous entries in the franchise. The mode is incredibly lackluster and makes gameplay kinda boring as you’re just running around and capping flags, the mode has never worked since Battlefield 2 and I’m not sure why they keep on trying to make it work. Despite the gameplay becoming boring, the Somme feels like a true Battlefield experience but also an experience that we’ve never had before.

The River Somme for the first time is in a videogame, and for the first time players are experiencing one of the most famous battles of the Great War and experiencing one of the darkest days in the history of the British Empire. It’s an epic experience.


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