So the new Battlefield trailer came out and it looks kind of bad. I have a lot of thoughts on this trailer, that I felt the need to write a blog post about it to kind of just get my thoughts down on something. Now firstly, I want to say I love WW2 as a subject, I would almost consider myself an amateur historian of WW2 because I have spent a great deal of my life reading and studying different theatres of war, looking at old archival footage and reading biographies from those who fought in the war. I'm obsessed with it. Arguably it's an obsession that stemmed from my time playing Medal of Honor or Call of Duty back when I was a kid and while those games might have triggered that interest in the history, it was the stories and history itself that kept me hooked in actually wanting to read more. The stories that come from the war, are immense and some of them frankly crazy. The man who never was, the Double-Cross System, The Battle for Castle Itter, Mad Jack Churchill and many, many more stories that came from the time. So suffice to say I have an interest in the war, which is why when the new Call of Duty came out, I bought a copy and played through the campaign.
It was not a good game. I don't know if I would go as far to say it was an awful game, but it was just... a game. It had a rather stunningly terrible attempt to address the holocaust in the game, that did nothing, said nothing and made me feel nothing. An impressive feat, I have to say. I feel Jeff Gerstmann's Giant Bomb Review sums things up rather nicely with this line:
"The story almost feels like a placeholder, like something they meant to replace with "the real story" at some point."
So I was geared up for a new WW2 game at any rate, with the rumour mill working overtime WW2 was believed to be the new (ha) destination for Battlefield and was cautiously optimistic. Then the trailer came out and while I'm still cautiously optimistic, that trailer did not make me excited for the new game in any way.
First things first Battlefield 1 trailer:
Now whether you think Seven Nation Army is an overused track or not is really not important. It's a good backing track for the trailer in this case, nicely synced up with sound effects from the game. The trailer itself feels suitably epic, there's a lot going on here but you're never completely lost. You see horses, tanks, artillery, planes flying about you're getting teased about what's in the game while also having a really punchy track and some cool cuts to keep you on your toes. There's some odd/slightly silly things in it (which was controversial back when the trailer first came out) like the fully armored man and automatic weapons but you get a cool trailer out of it.
Battlefield V on the other hand, is just a mess. Quick combat and explosions everywhere, the trailer starts calm enough but a bit odd with a zoomed in dead horse head attached to a tank? I assume? Then some fucker gets shot and it's off to the races. We got Americans and Brits bursting into a house, with enemies just popping out of nowhere, the camera lagging behind what it should be by a couple of seconds as you just kind of sit there thinking "What the fuck is going on?" People get shot, we head upstairs there's another brit, commando maybe? With a katana on his back? Okay... then we see some Cromwell tanks (I think) bursting through the house as we see people jump out, shoot another person out of nowhere then we go on a ride along. Explosion on the bridge, plane crashing, wiping someone out and then... it's a multiplayer match? Okay sure, whatever. That makes a bit more sense with everything going on, but I thought we were past this "oh it's unscripted (but really it is scripted)" nonsense back in like 2010-2012. Player shoots one German out of three, then immedietely reloads for... reasons? Then a grenade gets thrown into the sky, the player shoots it destroying a plane flying comically low. Then reflexes from the player, where they are either on speed or using an aimbot because you can never hope to achieve the same sort of speed and accuracy when you play a multiplayer match. Then a rocket, a shhing man and woman coming to save your ass.
What a fucking mess of a trailer, to say nothing of all the bloom, lens flare and dirt on lens crap that's been cranked up to eleven. I feel the trailer is also maybe not a swell idea from someone who has always been a singleplayer person. The focus on multiplayer in this trailer feels a bit stinging since it wasn't long ago that we found out the new Call of Duty would not have a singleplayer campaign of any kind, the lack of any mention of it in this trailer concerned me. However, I have seen people saying that the missions of BF1 will be back in this game which will be cool.
Now I want to point out, the absurdity of the trailer isn't necessarilly my problem with it, this is a trailer that is focused on multiplayer and multiplayer has always had some funny dumb moments in it because it's a video game. Trailers usually like to show these super serious people, being all tactical and shit and as much as I would love for games to be like that, they almost never are. I think wanting to capture the absurdity of multiplayer is not completely out of line, because absurdity is what you will come up against frequently in an online game like this. However this feels absurdist to be absurd rather than actually reflecting the dumb fun that can be found in a game like this. It's going a bit too far in the other direction. It's compounded by the fact that those who went to a press reveal event, seem to have said that they
- Did not actually show the very cool changes that have been made for the betterment of the game
- The trailer isn't particularly representative of what they saw.
I have seen people say that this trailer seems geared to the Fortnite crowd with the cosmetics and wacky shit going on and I'm inclined to agree. It seems funny to me that EA or DICE or whoever, has already forgotten what made the first trailer so good in comparison to the very weak Call of Duty trailer of that year. This was a bad trailer, but from all accounts it doesn't necessarily mean it will be a bad game.
Finally, I want to address some things I saw popping up time and time again on various forums and reddit posts I visited and would like to specifically address these points.
This seems disrespectful to those that died in WW2
It's funny, I (and a few others) had this reaction when the Battlefield 1 trailer came out initially, but was largely given a resounding "Who cares, it's a videogame." by Americans. When I was growing up here in the UK the school I went to (An independent school) and I feel much of the UK had a very real reverence for the first world war and that that reverence was instilled in me and in some ways I still carry to this day and so it felt a bit weird seeing this rather unrealistic not giving a shit kind of trailer of Battlefield 1 clashing against this respect I had for this horrific war. Seeing Americans discuss this issue, showed that WW1 didn't have the same import to them, than it did to us. That kind of makes sense when you sit down and think about it. Many (it would seem) aren't really taught about the first world war, no, rather it's the second world war that carries this respect. So to me, it seems almost like a delayed reaction in some ways. I won't say that the trailer is particularly magnanimous but at the end of the day it's a video game.
Woman weren't on the front lines in WW2.
An amputee would never be in battle
This is SJW, PC, Bullshit.
Okay, I think if you watch this trailer and your take away is women weren't on the frontlines, or amputees weren't on the frontlines fighting (ignoring for a second the validty of those statements) and not that just about everything in this trailer was bullshit, from jumping out of windows, bridges blowing up and crushing people, soldiers with katanas, people wearing incorrect uniforms and no fucking helmets, V2 rockets in the battlefield, a plane getting blown up by a grenade then you need to take a step back and really rethink your position.
I'm the sort of person, that absoloutely craves historical accuracy in WW2 games when that is the primary mission of the game on display but I don't impose historical accuracy on games, that very clearly aren't really following them to begin with. I can also enjoy a game that bends that accuracy to have bit of fun or do something interesting. That being said, this is a multiplayer match, historical accuracy and being realistic is very clearly not its purpose. If the game wants to bring woman and amputees or what have you, just so people have an avatar that can represent themselves in the game where the men have katannas, face paint and weird uniforms, then I have to ask, who the fuck cares? I might be able to work myself up over this if the rest of the trailer was trying to be as historically accurate as it could possibly be, but if you watched that trailer and think that's what it was trying to do, then I implore you to do the most basic of research. Besides woman did fight, in Russia on the frontlines, in France and other occupied countries as resistance members or spies, in America and Britain as pilots/spies and even SOE members, seriously there are some really fucking cool stories about woman in the war, that are worth looking into. Look up Violette Szabo, Nancy "The White Mouse" Wake, Virginia Hall (who had a prosthetic leg by the way) and Mariya Oktyabrskaya who bought (yes, BOUGHT) a fucking tank and drove it during the war to avenge her husband who was killed on the Eastern Front and would eventually earn Hero of The Soviet Union (the highest award). I think just because woman aren't the focus of WW2 pop culture works, doesn't necessarily mean they weren't there. Now, if this was a trailer of soldiers storming Omaha beach and there were women with the men, then yeah, sure I would be annoyed, but that is most definitely not what the trailer was.
Hopefully the next trailer for this game will be better, but time shall tell.