Despite the fact a World War I setting was rumoured long before DICE announced Battlefield 1, the bold change in direction for the franchise still shocked and impressed in equal measure – in part thanks to an incredible reveal.
While other shooters such as Overwatch, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and Battleborn embrace science fiction worlds, Battlefield 1 bucks hard against that trend by going 102 years into the past.
Design director Lars Gustavsson recently spoke to GameSpot, where he revealed that going back to WWI gave the team opportunities to experiment, try new things, and even learn some cool new stuff.
Every time we open the research books, we find a new weapon or technique we didn’t know was used during World War I. The misconception is that it was all trenches and slow-paced combat–but this was a war of ‘firsts.’ These empires were experimenting every chance they had.
Apparently it was an era that DICE had been keen to explore for a while, and visiting this historic setting even affords them the chance to really explore the ramifications WWI would have over the next century – something that will hopefully be addressed in the campaign.
Our research isn’t confined to weapons and vehicles. We’ve sat down to watch movies, talk with experts, page through books as we tried to figure out which story to tell from this time period. The empires involved in World War I were massive, and in a way, each of them was greedy, trying to gain something more as the war continued. There were a lot of different motives we want to explore. It was a complicated time.
With World War II games having been done to death a few years back, and sci-fi shooters arguably starting to wear out their welcome, it’s clear that DICE has made a very smart choice in going somewhere that perhaps nobody else would have thought to.
It’s ironic that a game so focused on the past could very well end up being the freshest FPS in years.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.