For a few days now, rumors have been circling that Battlefield 1 wouldn’t feature France or Russia as a playable factions in the game’s multiplayer.
Yesterday it was confirmed by IGN France when they spoke to DICE’s Julien Wera that France would not be present in the multiplayer at launch and come later as premium DLC. Still no word on Russia, though.
“To really do justice to the French army in multiplayer and, once again, to show a side that we’re not used to seeing, we have chosen to dedicate an entire premium expansion with special treatment after the launch of the game.”
We’ve known for a little while now that multiplayer would feature the allied powers of the US, Britain, and Italy, and the central powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire. I think up until recently it was just assumed France and Russia hadn’t been revealed yet.
Of course we all know why the US is a playable faction even if they didn’t have a lot of presence during the war itself. America is a huge market, and the amount of sales EA would lose by omitting the US is probably greater than the sales they’re going to lose by forgetting that France exists. Britain was a major player in the war, so their presence makes sense from both a historical and an marketing perspective. Italy, too, played a fairly major role. If anything, people should be more up in arms about Russia’s absence than they are France’s. Though evidently Russians aren’t too happy about their absence in BF1, either. The general public seems to be fixating on France, though.
It pretty obvious that DICE couldn’t include all of the nations that fought in WW1, but it almost seems like they picked most of them at random. It’s only when the backlash toward the absence of France came out that they realized how badly they messed up and scrambled to declare that would come later as DLC. Whether or not this was always the plan, or if the controversy caused them to shift their plans around, I don’t know. Six months is plenty of time for plans to change. If Battlefield 1’s DLC is anything like the previous games’, then it’s not like France will magically become playable in all the previous maps. They’ll probably only show up on the maps contained in the DLC itself. Of course since nobody seems to be freaking out as hard about Russia, DICE hasn’t bothered to comment on their omission.
I was actually quite surprised by the backlash this has been causing, if only because Russia hasn’t been treated with the same level of outcry. Not that factions really matter in Battlefield’s multiplayer. Most of the time, I’m hardly aware of who I’m playing as. I could be a cute little Martian running around with an assault rifle, and I’d never know. That is until I start to wonder why I’m staring at everyone’s crotch. Still, though. Most of the time, your faction in Battlefield multiplayer comes down to the voice you hear when you toss a grenade, or the model of tank you spawn into.
It’s a bit different for Battlefield 1, though. These are real battles that real people once died in. A lot of them. The previous Battlefield games, at least the modern ones, might’ve featured the factions of real life and theaters inspired by real life locations, but other than that, it’s almost entirely fictional. The US and China really didn’t fight over a skyscraper in Shanghai.
Single player is where DICE’s representation of WW1 will truly matter, and where France will be featured in all its glory.
The lack of France in multiplayer definitely shows a lack of sensitivity, and maybe a little ignorance, on the part of DICE, but I don’t really think this is a pitchfork moment. At least until people play the single player and come to realize how poorly written that is.
EA’s been showing a fair bit of generosity as of late, so you never know. Maybe they’ll release the France DLC for free instead of charging for it in an attempt to appease the hornet’s nest they’ve kicked.
Meanwhile, Russia will continue wondering if anyone remembered that they exist.
I remember, Russia. I remember.