Ever since Advanced Warfare, the Call of Duty series has been pushing further and further into the science fiction genre.
What was once a franchise built on pseudo-realistic, ground-based engagements has grown to include everything from drone swarms to bionic commandos. It's a far cry from the games that made the series a mega-blockbuster in the first place — and some fans have been begging for a return to the franchise's more grounded roots.
Battlefield, on the other hand, has kept things relatively down-to-Earth. Save for the overlooked Battlefield 2142, EA's military shooter has stayed within the confines of reality — though the series has had its own fair share of troubles. At this point, most fans would be happy with a game that actually worked on Day One, regardless of the setting.
While there's no telling how DICE's latest shooter will work come launch, there have been rumors of a major tonal shift for the series: instead of sticking around in modern day or blasting off to the far future, EA is looking to go back in time. Rumors of a game centered around World War I have been swirling for weeks now, including leaked artwork and the incredibly confusing title of Battlefield 1.
After months of waiting, it's finally time to get the official word on what's next for Battlefield: EA is hosting a live press conference today, and is set to reveal the latest entry in DICE's long-running military shooter:
After a brief sojourn through the history of the series, EA and DICE finally confirmed what everyone already knew: the next Battlefield will take place during the height of World War I.
The event began with a short in-game trailer, focused around two major themes: trench warfare and aerial dogfights. There was the traditional focus on vehicles (mostly tanks and horses) and an impressive final shot of a massive airship, but the teaser didn't do much to reveal the specifics of Battlefield 1's gameplay mechanics.
Unsurprisingly, many of the combat tactics from the era are front-and-center in Battlefield 1. Despite the fact that World War I only took place a century ago, people were still riding on horseback and using blunt weapons in hand-to-hand combat — and according to DICE, players will get to experience this first-hand. That being said, the series' trademark focus on vehicles will also return, giving players access to everything from agile horses to lumbering battleships.
Finally, the team promised that more of the traditional Battlefield experience would make its way into the campaign. While we'd be surprised to see more than one player in a story-based mission, the statement does seem to imply that players will have more freedom than in the more tightly-scripted campaigns of past games. That could carry over to weapons and loadouts as well, as the developers confirmed that players would be able to customize their arsenal.
To be honest, the move to the first World War is a confusing one: while World War II has been romanticized for decades, World War I still stands as a flawless example of the brutality of war. Most of the conflict was spent fighting over relatively small patches of muddy, shell-shocked terrain — and if you were lucky enough to avoid falling victim to mustard gas, you'd have to worry about your foot getting infected in the muddy water and rotting away.
Long story short, there's a reason why you don't see many World War I movies — at least in films based on the second World War, you have a heroic alliance battling an unspeakable evil. World War I had no such heroes or villains — it was just war, and all of the brutality and horror that such a conflict implies.
To be fair, this is DICE we're talking about: there are few studios as well-versed in creating first-person shooters as they are, and taking Battlefield back in time could help revitalize the series after a number of lackluster spin-offs and me-too sequels. It'll be hard push, but who knows — maybe DICE can actually pull this off.
Battlefield 1 is set for release on Oct. 21.