How Historically Accurate Is Battlefield 1? (Watch)

While video games often discard authenticity in favor of gameplay, there needs to be some semblance of real life or the game can be ruined by obvious factual errors. The World War I history aficionados at “The Great War” analyzed the trailer to Battlefield 1 to determine its level of authenticity. They broke the trailer down shot-by-shot and found that the game is largely faithful to the actual conflict, sometimes in surprising ways. A German soldier attacking with a shovel makes sense when you know that soldiers learned that their bayonets got stuck in their victims. The tanks behave as tanks of the time did and gas masks and pickaxes (used by Italians scaling a mountain) look just like they should.

There are some concessions to gameplay (medics did not typically carry crutches), still, even some of those make sense. A British soldier carrying a German anti-armor rifle could have happened. There are reported cases of soldiers grabbing an enemy weapon in a pinch. The strange body armor shown at one point in the trailer is the “Sappenpanzer Gesichtsmaske,” a rare form of protection given to machine gunners and snipers who don’t plan on moving.

Battlefield 1 is certainly not a simulator and not everything in the trailer will necessarily make it to the final game. Still, it is clear that the designers have gone out of their way to include actual gear you would have seen in the trenches. Despite what you may think about the premise of the game, it is not treating the First World War as merely window dressing.

The Great War Special

Battlefield Trailer

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE