With Battlefield V, DICE Has an Opportunity to Explore Different Fronts of World War II
With a closer look at Battlefield V coming at E3 2018, I hope that DICE will use their latest title to explore the lesser-known areas of WWII's history.
With the run-up to E3 in full gear, gamers are finally getting a taste of what’s to come this holiday season and beyond. Among the new additions to the class of 2018, DICE recently announced their next game in the Battlefield series, Battlefield V, which is both a return to World War II and a follow-up (of sorts) to last year’s Battlefield 1.
As a kid, I first learned about World War II in middle school, which was not long after the release of Steven Spielberg’s war epic, Saving Private Ryan. One of the most intense and gripping sequences is the first 30 minutes of the film, which introduces viewers to the horrors of D-Day – the allied invasion of Normandy, France. The images of American soldiers braving bullets, mortar rounds, and landmines as they charged up the beach — and soon into the rest of Europe — became symbolic of the United States’ role in WWII, and influenced the direction of several games that were released in its wake. The invasion itself was featured in titles like 2002’s Medal of Honor: Frontline and 2005’s Call of Duty 2.
D-Day took place on June 6, 1944, a year before the war’s end. While the United States played an important role in ending the war, it is important to take into account the events that unfolded prior to D-Day and Pearl Harbor. The conflict is called “World War II” because it was truly global in scale, pulling in nations from all over the world into multiple theaters of the war. DICE has an opportunity to not only make their mark on the genre of WWII-inspired games once more, but to expand the game’s aesthetic by introducing locales we’ve never seen before, or have seen rarely compared to other games.
One of the attributes that have set Battlefield and its main competitor, Call of Duty, apart are the size and design of their maps. On the subject of design, Battlefield’s maps contain obstacles that feel more natural, as if they were part of any other landscape; as if the player were dropped into a painting or photograph. There are many locations that would be well-served by the developers at DICE, in this regard, by introducing players to environments we haven’t seen as much in past WWII games, in a way that would feel true to their importance in the war.
This would also be a way to be more appreciative of the gravity and seriousness of just what exactly happened in this quasi-simulation of WWII: even if it’s simply acknowledging the colossal scale of lives that were forever changed by the conflict. As the game’s recent reveal has shown, Battlefield V will be incorporating different locations through its “War Stories” mode that will follow different characters in varying fronts of the war, creating a perfect opportunity for DICE to show us the lesser-seen sides of WWII.
In that regard, these are a few of the different areas of WWII’s history and the locations that I am hoping for DICE to explore with Battlefield V.
Soldiers at The Battle of Stalingrad. (Image via Reference.com/Sovfoto Universal Images Group Getty Images )
One of the main strategies behind the Normandy landings (from the Allied forces’ perspective) was that it would force the Axis to fight on two fronts: Russia and France. The popular opinion of the landings was that they turned the tide of the war: by facing both the United States on one side and the Soviet Union on the other, Germany had neither the manpower nor industry to win the war.
The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the largest battles in the history of warfare, and turned the city now known as Volgograd into an urban hell. The total amount of lives lost was in the tens of thousands as a result, and while it was one of the war’s most brutal battles, this would be a perfect setting for the next Battlefield. BF1’s gameplay, the Operations mode specifically, felt extremely kinetic, and more-so in its tight urban maps. Stalingrad lends itself well to that mode (a new mode, Grand Operations, will be in BFV), and the game overall.
Additionally, the largest tank battle in history was also fought between Soviet and German forces at the Battle of Kursk. Over 10,000 tanks were engaged in a battle which lasted five weeks. Vehicle-heavy maps such as those in BF1’s expansion, They Shall Not Pass, worked quite well, and I think that would make for prime material in Battlefield V as well.
A patrol of African-American soldiers in a skirmish outside Lucca, Italy. (Image via Wikipedia)
Before the Allied Powers undertook the Normandy landings in Europe, there were numerous operations conducted to shore up the Axis advances in North Africa and the Mediterranean. In fact, the campaigns in Italy and Sicily cost more in casualties and lives, as most of the fighting was on the ground.
The entire peninsula felt the effects of the war, even the Vatican. Many of the settings in Italy can take the lead of the Italo-Austro-Hungarian maps developed by DICE in BF1.
British troops near the Egypt-Libya border. (Image via The Atlantic/AP Photo)
Concurrent with the invasions of Sicily and Italy, the Allies undertook operations in North Africa, specifically in Libya, Egypt, and Somalia. Compared to both the Pacific War and war in Western Europe, the North Africa campaign was the longest of the entire conflict. Major battles were fought in eastern Libyan and Western Egyptians cities like Tobruk and Sollum, while the broader conflict was fought across the desert. Much of the fighting in Somalia took place in what was known as Somaliland, now part of northern Somalia.
Deserts are a setting that were utilized beautifully in BF1 in the Anglo-Ottoman maps set in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. While it wouldn’t be too much of a far cry, it would be interesting to see DICE utilize these skills in developing both urban and desert settings.
Activision’s Call of Duty: WWII recently delved into this theater of the war with the release of their War Machine DLC, which features a map set at the base of the Great Pyramids of Giza (there was never a battle fought there).
Now, we’ve already seen a glimpse of North Africa as one of the fronts that Battlefield V will appear to be featuring based on recently-released concept art, and I’m certainly happy to see how DICE will integrate this aspect of the war into the final game.
American and Canadian forces on the shore of Kiska, an Alaskan island. (Image via History in Images)
An often-overlooked detail of the war in the Pacific is that, on more than one occasion, it grazed the shores of the United States. While not part of the contiguous states, the invasion of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands is still considered one of the few occasions in the modern era in which an opposing force successfully invaded and occupied American territory.
The Battle of the Aleutian Islands, which saw a Japanese force take small islands off the coast of the (then) territory of Alaska, is an often-overlooked event in the war. Nearly 150,000 American soldiers were mobilized to retake the islands.
These cold, snowy islands would make an interesting addition to the upcoming game’s collection of maps, and would provide a rare perspective in which the American team would be taking back its own territory, rather than someone else’s.
Update: A previous version of this article stated that Stalingrad was eventually known today as St. Petersburg. Today, it is instead known as Volgograd: the article has been corrected accordingly.