Set in the trenches of World War I, EA's upcoming title Battlefield 1 is already sparking renewed interest in the Great War with its recently released debut trailer becoming one of the best-rated trailers across YouTube. But how historically accurate is the First World War shooter?
The hosts of YouTube video series The Great War have conducted a detailed shot-by-shot breakdown of the cinematic trailer to see how closely the trailer sticks to historical facts. Barring a few inconsistencies and errors, narrator Indy Neidell says the EA DICE team does make a significant effort to stay true to the technology of the era, including equipment, uniform, vehicles and tactics.
For example, the shovel-wielding German soldier is a historically accurate portrayal of close combat since infantrymen believed the bayonet could easily get stuck in a victim's ribcage. The tanks, vehicles and weapons behave as they would have back then while other equipment including gas masks and pickaxes are already pretty precise.
"It's a global war on a global scale that was full of locations we could choose from," Danny Berlin, the lead game designer at DICE, told Venture Beat earlier. "We also need to stay respectful of World War I. These were some of the biggest battles that the world has ever known and they took place all over the world. It's been eye-opening to research it."
However, Neidell does note that there are a few historical errors in the trailer as well.
The German body armour seen in the video at the 9:12 mark is rather fancier than the body armour of the era which would typically be much heavier than suggested in the trailer. Trench fighters would also not usually wear full gear, but leave it behind in the trench before heading out to battle.
He also says the location of certain planes seen among different warfare fronts aren't where they probably should have been. Medics carrying crutches on their back during trench warfare and infantrymen taking on Italian soldiers using unknown weapons are some other historical errors seen in the trailer.
Still, Neidell notes that it is an entertainment product and probably won't be "an accurate depiction of the horrors of the war". Still, it does show that the game developers have put in considerable effort to include historically accurate aspects that that are usually forgotten when talking about the Great War.
Battlefield 1's reveal trailer, released on 6 May, has raked in a whopping 31 million views and about 1.6 million likes, racing to the top as the most liked trailer across video games, TV and movies on YouTube.
Battlefield 1 is slated for release on 21 October for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.