Game Overview: Battlefield 1: Turning Tides

Tue, 2017/11/07
Ethan Castro

            World War I (WWI) was a truly global war, drawing combatants from across the world together in a dire struggle for power that would upset the balance of the world for years to come, with effects still being felt in modern geopolitics. Unfortunately, many treatments of WWI (from movies to classroom education) focus primarily on the Western European front, mainly emphasizing the static and many-times pyrrhic nature of trench warfare. However, WWI took place in more than the mud of the European countryside: conflicts arose in the Middle East, northern Africa, and even in the Pacific. It is this global perspective of the war that Electronic Arts Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment (more commonly referred to as DICE) has tried to convey with its first-person shooter video game “Battlefield 1.”

            Although “Battlefield 1” officially released back in October 2016, the game is still very much in the growth stage of its product life cycle. Monthly balance updates and regular themed expansion packs keep the game’s multiplayer experience fresh and filled with new content such as weapons, vehicles, maps, and even factions. For example, the previous two expansion packs, “They Shall Not Pass” and “In The Name of the Tsar” added the French and Russian armies to the game, with their own unlockable features and historical maps to battle in. Now, DICE has officially announced the game’s third expansion pack, “Turning Tides.”

            Unlike the previous two packs, “Turning Tides” will not focus on one particular faction or campaign of the war. Instead, this expansion pack is split into two different components; one half focuses on the British Empire’s invasion of the Ottoman Empire during the 1915-1916 Gallipoli Campaign, and the other half focuses on the naval campaigns of the British Royal Navy and marines against Germany. In addition, this expansion pack comes with a new game mode (Conquest Assault, an attack-and-defend variation of the traditional Conquest mode), six new unlockable guns (the M1917 Trench Carbine and Maschinepistole M1912/P.16 for the Assault Class, the Farquhar-Hill for the Medic Class, the M1917 MG for the Support Class, and the Carcano M91 Carbine and Type 38 Arisaka for the Scout Class), a new elite class known as “The Infiltrator,” four new maps, and various other unlocks. Of particular note is the inclusion of the Type 38 Arisaka rifle, the standard-issue rifle of the Imperial Japanese Army, since its inclusion is likely intended as a nod to the little-known role that Japan played in WWI.

            Two of the new maps included in this pack, Cape Helles and Achi Baba, showcase the Gallipoli Campaign, during which the British Empire tried and failed to invade the Ottoman Empire’s mainland with the goal of eventually capturing Constantinople. After eight brutal months of fighting, British high command would eventually abandon the campaign, ending it in failure. “Battlefield 1” now seeks to bring this campaign back into the forefront through this expansion pack, with Cape Helles centering around the initial landing of the British forces on the peninsula’s beaches and Achi Baba centering on the infantry advances up the hills and cliffs surrounding the beach.

Prominently featured as part of these maps is the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). Troops from the British colonies of Australia and New Zealand were drafted en masse to fight for the empire in the Gallipoli Campaign, and their sacrifices are the source of much national reverence in their homelands. In the game, homage is paid to these colonial troops through the character models of the British Empire. The British Medic wears the signature slouch hat of ANZAC soldiers, and the British Scout appears to be a Maori soldier, part of an indigenous Polynesian tribe in New Zealand.

The other half of the expansion pack concerns two separate naval confrontations between the British and German empires. The map Heligoland Bight showcases a naval confrontation between the British Royal Marines (a new playable faction) and the Germany Navy. Players can likely expect this map to feature playable naval vessels clashing against each other at sea as infantry soldiers fight for control of the Rocky Cove. The other map, Zeebrugge, features the 1918 Zeebrugge Raid in which the British Empire blocked the eponymous port in order to trap the German Navy and sink as many of its ships as possible. British casualties from this raid numbered at 583 men while Germany only lost 24.

One last note should be made that this expansion pack is split into two halves. The first half, releasing in December 2017, features the two Gallipoli maps, the new Infiltrator elite class, two new vehicles (the L-Class Destroyer and the C-Class Airship), the six new guns, and all new specializations, service assignments, and unlocks. The second of the pack will release in January 2018 and will feature the remaining two maps, as well as the British Royal Marines. Official release dates are not yet available for either half.