The trailer for Battlefield 1 is amazing.
There’s plenty of eye candy to be seen: infantry, tanks, airplanes, airships, and dreadnaughts. But one thing is conspicuously missing from the Battlefield 1 trailer: The French.
If you can’t view the video:
Saying things like “they were retreating” or “they were hiding” is disrespectful to the men who fought on the front lines during World War I. In all seriousness, some of the bloodiest battles of the conflict took place on French soil, and French forces suffered the second most casualties of all the Entente (en taunt) Powers – over 1.1 million killed. At the nearly year-long Battle of Verdun in 1916, the French suffered around 160-thousand soldiers killed. On the first day of the battle, a mere 200-thousand French fought against over one million Germans. After being pushed back to the third trench line, reinforcements and stubbornness stopped the Germans in their tracks.
Yet they are absent in the Battlefield 1 trailer.
Not only did the average French soldier fight the German, he also had to contend with incompetence from its own high command. General Robert Nivelle launched the Nivelle Offensive in October 1916. The French suffered 40-thousand casualties on the first day of the offensive. By the time the offensive ended, the French took nearly five times as many casualties. The failed offensive led directly to the French mutinies of 1917. French soldiers had been ordered to continuously attack fortified German emplacements, despite poor planning, reconnaissance, and German air superiority. Under the weight of battle casualties, French medical support collapsed entirely, and many soldiers refused to fight. It took months for the French army to recover its morale, and it was through no fault of the French soldier in the trenches.
The French also developed some very effective weapons during World War I. Among them, the SPAD series of airplanes and the Renault FT-17 tank – one of the first tanks feature a design with a turret. The country also had a significant navy.
Many Americans joined the fight before the United State’s official involvement in The Great War by fighting with the French. The French were also more accepting of African American soldiers than their own army – the 369th Harlem Hellfighters Regiment, which we know are in the game, actually fought under French command.
Yet in the trailer, no French soldiers can be seen. They are easily recognizable, not only from their Adrian helmets, but their blue uniforms. It is possible DICE and EA are waiting to reveal the French in another trailer later on, but creating a World War I game without one of the major protagonists would be a sad mistake. I hope the creators behind Battlefield 1 recognize the importance of including the French, and have plans to feature them in-game.