Battlefield V’s Handling Of History Should Be Illegal

I believe it’s fair to say that since the release of Battlefield V, in 2018, enough time has passed that we can look back at it with a clear and, for the most part, unbiased mindset. Battlefield’s V announcement was met with absolute disdain and disgust. Even to this day, comments pile up on the video with some interesting gems stating “This makes Wolfenstein look historically accurate”, “When the game about the past is less accurate than one about the future”, and a hilarious “This makes me wish for Hardline”, a notoriously shitty entry.

If you’ve never watched that clown fiesta of a trailer, you should really enjoy it while you can, because things are about to go from bad to worst. The player’s dislike soon reached EA executives. EA’s Chief Design Officer, Patrick Soderlund, and in one of the most tone-dead responses I have a memory of, decided to call players “uneducated” and go on a tirade, saying that “Battlefield 5 is a lot about the unseen, the untold, the unplayed”, and then defending its product with the typical “this is a game”. So, which is it, Patrick? A game about the untold stories of those who fought and died in the war? Or is this “just a game, bro”? You can’t have and eat both cakes. If it’s about telling less-known stories, then please, go ahead and do it, I’m sure people would appreciate and love it. But don’t put lipstick on the pig and when you don’t like the criticism just deflect it to “it’s a game, dude”. If it is just a game, then why does every mission end with a historically accurate message about the events of the war, you dummy? Oh, more on that later, believe that.

The gentleman went on to make an ultimatum to the player base of “either accept it or don’t buy the game. I’m fine with either.” The community clearly wasn’t fine with that answer, same with the rest of the EA board, with the reasons soon to become apparent. After Battlefield V failed to perform and sold fewer than half of the copies Battlefield 1 managed to in the same period, EA CEO Andrew Wilson acknowledged that BF5 bombed and failed to meet sales expectations, laying the blame on the marketing team and its subpar single-player campaign. Prior to the game’s release, Patrick decided to “voluntarily” leave the company, after defending it tooth and nail and after a 20 year-long-stay in EA and was totally not fired for the comments he made prior to the game’s release. Videogaming journalists, whose profession is almost synonymous with that of a clown these days, jumped at the opportunity to defend a multibillion-dollar company from the hordes of “uneducated gamers” by debunking Twitter posts and insulting people, instead of rubbing two brain cells together and realizing that few corporations have their moral compass set straight, and if decisions like these are made, it’s because they believe there was money to be had. This, however, was but a mere introduction. I’m not here to discuss the trailer, I don’t really think it’s all that bad or egregious. It’s just high-octane action, poorly contextualized, and if we’re to judge a game solely on that, then a lot of great games wouldn’t have had their opportunities, due to them having terrible trailers too.

Now, allow me to illuminate some Battlefield executives as to what is the role of a historian. You see, despite what Twitter blue checkmarks and poorly educated videogame journalists might tell, the job of a Historian is NOT to preach some message they – or their sycophants- consider to be the right one, for they’re neither the owners of history nor the paragon of virtue. Imagine that. Now that this earth-shattering revelation is upon us, what is this job? The job of a Historian is to act as this sort of translator, bridging the gaps between what is and what was, based on their knowledge of the past, and should strive to always base this knowledge of History on serious and solid historical sources (as to what those are might vary from time period to time period, and from different locations and cultures). However, in the same way, there can be terrible translations for books, the same thing might happen with History when people who aren’t talented, smart, and knowledgeable enough to do the job properly. The ambiguous nature of this field of work has been kidnapped by those willing to craft a narrative that might suit their ideals. The sheer hubris of even attempting to twist and contort history to fit your idea of idyllic reality is something that leaves the mind boggled and bamboozled. Worst of all, is that the team behind Battlefield V was intentionally painting a lie as a historical reality and that’s something I cannot abide by.

The campaigns are structured around short war stories, which is a way of escaping your way out of writing something interesting and coherent, and it comes off as extremely lazy. These war stories have the player filling in the boots of half a dozen or so unhistorical characters, somewhat based on other, more interesting real-life counterparts. As to why the untalented bunch of cardboard cut-outs masquerading as a writing team decided to do this, I assume it all comes down to the basic appanage of “a character is only as intelligent and smart as the people writing it”. The only less-than-awful tales are the Tirailleur and Under No Flag, but even these flop under the weight of terrible mission design and an overwhelming amount of bugs and glitches. The first of these, who’s most similar to the prologue of Battlefield 1 puts players in the boots of the Senegalese Tirailleurs, fighting against the German Fallschirmjäger in southern France. And what sounds interesting right from the get-go, is that in the paper you would take the place of the ill-equipped, poorly trained underdog against one of the mythical units of the German Army just ends up falling flat that could culminate in a story arc where courage, cunning, and sacrifice made the difference, what you end up doing is playing German wack-a-mole, as they spawn-endlessly until certain checkpoints are reached, making each shot you take, and every soldier who dies count for nothing because they just keep showing up out of the ether. The small scope of the fight and the missions you take place in also don’t lend themselves to the high-stakes emotional story the game is trying to tell. You don’t end up feeling like a Tiraailleur. If the roles were reversed, the missions could play exactly the same, in their poorly designed way. When Call of Duty first came out in 2003, it had the “No Man Fought Alone” – or something along those lines- catchphrase (a jab at the games of its time, mainly Medal of Honor), it implemented that idea in an almost flawless way: soldiers had names and ranks, they cooperated with each other (and the player), was vulnerable and if they died, things got a little tougher, but most importantly, most of the time it would feel like you were fighting in a living, breathing battle. Battlefield V instead, believes that fighting with camaraderie is just having other people hanging around, with no rhyme nor reason, other than atmospheric, cinematic action. It’s just flat. I won’t even get on the discussion about the representation of Women in World War II, because Medal of Honor: Underground already did that with Manon Baptiste, two decades prior. But instead of acting so sanctimonious about doing things no one ever did before (even though they did), at least have the courage of challenging players and have them play as the famous Russian snipers or fanatical members of the Vulksturm. Heck, what about the story of Mariya Vasilyevna Oktyabrskaya? This badass lass bought a tank to avenge her dead husband, got into several tank battles, and was famous for going outside the “Fighting Girlfriend” to perform repairs under heavy fire. And she’s but one example. Or a resistance fighter, like MoH, did? Don’t be lazy, History is always more interesting than fiction. The mission of these writers wasn’t to glorify the roles of men and women who fought bravely together against the odious apparatus of nazi rule but to reframe history to fit their modern sensibilities and what they believe to be morally correct. And this kind of historical misrepresentation can be extremely damaging to the public perception of history, and the last thing to happen is for everyone to start normalizing these things again.

Now, the meat and potatoes that single-handedly motivated me to write this article alone: The Last Panzer. In a game so sanctimoniously woke in its message, it’s amazing the number of mental gymnastics someone went through in order to justify a change of heart of a battle-hardened, seasoned tank commander when faced with their inevitable defeat. Explain to me how am I supposed to feel bad for someone who rampages through (literally) dozens of allied tanks and soldiers, and only when faced with a certain end, and the death of a crew member, does he decide to surrender, and the team pins the blame of fanaticism on a kid. Only to end the mission with a black-and-white screen, somehow making everything that happened before morally correct. When things should probably be the other way around: there are no excuses for what Germany did during the war, and if everything, fanaticism didn’t come from children forced to fight, but from the seasoned veterans that led them into battle to the bitter end. Of course, wehraboos jumped at the opportunity to see their fantasies of “not all soldiers were nazis” validated. Anyone with a glimpse of critical thinking should know better. And if your level of ignorance still has you shouting things like “but the german people didn’t know”, I can assure you they did. To the point where almost every newspaper (national and regional) in Europe, prior(!) to the war was already reporting on the terrible things the Jewish population was suffering under the nazi regime. How a game manages to try to be so woke, and for some unknown reason still goes out of its way to justify nazi actions is beyond me. The level of disconnect is astonishing. Who thinks of this shit? And of course, the usual crowd of “but this is a game, it’s supposed to be fictional”, then why does every mission end with some moral lesson about real people, that suffer real traumas, in a real conflict? At least, Battlefield 1 War Stories focused on the radical change in the nature of warfare and managed to capture that in a solid manner.

The dump of this unhistorical shitfest goes deeper than I am willing to go, and this article is pissing me off a lot just by creating it. Shu, don’t play this, instead, go play Hell Let Loose.


3 thoughts on “Battlefield V’s Handling Of History Should Be Illegal

    1. My position is that when videogames try to portray history they should stick to some semblante of historical accuracy. When they dont, then they shouldn’t mask the truth to fit their ideologies, be it woke or non woke. Thanks for your comment, Cheers!


      1. I guess I’m just curious about what you thought was so “sanctimoniously woke” about it. I haven’t played (or previously read anything about) Battlefield V myself, and it kinda felt like this post was written with the expectation that readers would already have some familiarity with the content of the game.


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