It's been over a week since Battlefield 1's gameplay was first revealed to the world, with the response so far being very positive—albeit with a few caveats. While some of the more unrealistic expectations (such as Battlefield becoming a war simulator) had to be allayed, all told Battlefield 1 is a recognizable entry in the series that FPS gamers the world over know and love.
So after the gameplay wowed and amazed its audiences, a later discrepancy was discovered that is undoubtedly worth looking into further, as on the 13th of June, the official Battlefield Twitter revealed that only the British, German, Austro-Hungarian, Italian, Ottoman, and American nationalities would be playable in its multiplayer on launch day.
Ironically, there is one nation included in this list that could (and probably should) be dismissed from this list in favor of two nations: The United States of America. Why? Well, let's discuss that.
To begin, Russia and France were involved in the First World War from the very onset of the War, and between the two nations, over 3 million soldiers died over a four year period. If one were compare that to the United States, you would find that while an impressive 4.3 million soldiers were mobilized in the year and a half that they were at war, there was only (in comparison) a mere 323 thousand casualties.
Now that isn't to say that the U.S. doesn't deserve to be in Battlefield 1, but even just considering the raw numbers from a historical standpoint, it's hard to imagine America being put in the game before France and Russia, two nations who did far more to affect the course of the First World War than America ever did.
However, what has to be considered is that the American audience is the biggest market for Battlefield by far, and it is logical to assume that Americans would want to play as themselves over France and Russia, regardless of historical accuracy. So, as a business decision this line of thinking makes sense. At least France is still coming later on in Battlefield 1's multiplayer, but this will take the form of future downloadable content.
To put it bluntly, this is ludicrous. Not only is it ridiculous from a historical standpoint, it is irresponsible of Electronic Arts, considering how much both countries sacrificed during the War and that the company sees itself as an educator as well as an entertainer. You can do both, and not having France and Russia in Battlefield 1's multiplayer at once is irresponsible as it can quite easily lead to erroneous assumptions.
Regarding France, the beleaguered nation held the line for the entire duration of the The Great War, in which single battles they participated in have been vastly influential across history and all forms of media. In fact, the recently released game Verdun is based off of the Battle of Verdun, one of the largest battles of the First World War that pitted France against the German Empire in a grisly duel that lasted for over nine months, with over 125 divisions and 2.3 million soldiers fighting in the battle, which coincidentally took place before the United States entered the war a year later in 1917.
And let's not forget the Eastern Front, which lasted from 17 August 1914 – 3 March 1918, a period of 3 years, 6 months, and 2 weeks. During the course of the fighting that took place during this period, Russia fought alone against the combined might of the German Empire and Austria-Hungary for two years, an example of which would be the Battle of Tannenberg, a disastrous early defeat that proved to be foretelling of the Russian government's later dissolution in 1917. However, until the Russian Republic's final defeat in 1918, Russia suffered over 10 million casualties, or an average of 238,000 men per month.
All told, France should not be relegated to "premium" DLC, and Russia should definitely not be excluded in a game based upon WW1. They were such pivotal actors in the Great War that it honestly confounds me as to why they are labeled as DLC and not put in the base game. If it's too much work or effort, drop Italy (if we are truly going by the nations of least importance) and put it as DLC instead, or better yet, have all of them in there, in accordance to when and where the battles take place. In fact, if we are going to talk about nations to add as DLC, why not focus on a smaller nation that still influenced the course of the War? If we were to go by that route, Serbia would be an excellent choice.
Considering that EA was leery of making Battlefield 1, as they knew WW1 was not well-known among its core demographics, the irony is especially palpable when one considers that EA is knowingly excluding such important factors of World War 1. As perceived gatekeepers, they should know better than to willfully exclude France and Russia at all in a game based upon WW1. Media often does educate people through what they experience in it. With something that they perceive as obscure as World War 1, that is even more to be aware of. Introducing them to Battlefield 1's primary mode with America included over France and Russia helps to perpetuate the idea of the U.S. being more important than it was and may negatively influence perceptions of Russia and France importance in the war. Another thing to consider is that there will be maps taking place either in France or Russia. So, is the multiplayer mode really going to try and perpetuate the idea that a country would not fight in a battle taking place within its own borders? Please.
Overall, it will be very interesting to see how Battlefield 1 will include both the Eastern Front and Western Front in-game, especially considering that Battlefield 1 is to have a singleplayer mode. Will they focus on France and Russia in the singleplayer only to ignore them in the multiplayer? Will they ignore the nations in the singleplayer mode as they will be in the multiplayer? Both choices are astoundingly ironic, but that's what you get when you exclude Russia and France from a AAA WW1 title. This only multiplies when you consider that Battlefield 1 will be going with a singleplayer mode that "... delve(s) into some of the unknowns of WW1."
What do you think? Should France and Russia be included in Battlefield 1's multiplayer at launch? Do you want to drive the Renault FT17 pictured in the header? Let us know in the comments!
Want to sign a petition protesting the non-inclusion of France and Russia? Go here.