One of the highlights from the Battlefield 1 reveal trailer was the visceral melee attacks.
The Battlefield franchise is well-known for having a wide variety of melee weapons in games like Battlefield: Hardline and Battlefield 4. But what awaits players in Battlefield 1? Thankfully, history provides us with a few great examples.
Trench warfare in World War I was brutal. Not just in the fact it was killing on an industrialized level, but also in hand to hand combat. Cavalry and some officers still carried swords. However, most soldiers were equipped with bayonets – long knife-like weapons designed for impaling the enemy when mounted on a rifle. We will undoubtedly see all manner of bayonets in Battlefield 1, ranging from the “spike” type to the fearsome-looking German S98/05 sawback or “butcher’s blade.” Germany actually removed the sawblades and reissued them because enemy propaganda called them inhumane and rumors circulated simply carrying one would get you shot if you were taken as a prisoner of war.
In the confines of the trenches, many soldiers found bayonets clumsy and unwieldy. Some soldiers cut down spare or damaged bayonets into fighting knives. This kind of improvisation was commonplace. French troops came up with the “French Nail,” an elegant yet deadly solution. Several could be created from a single Lebel rifle bayonet. With long waits common between attacks, soldiers often made whatever they needed with whatever they could find. Soldiers in the trenches and those behind the lines on both sides created weapons suited for trench combat in the absence of standard issue.
Trench clubs were among the weapons favored among front line soldiers. It’s not clear which side started the trend, but their practicality made them popular. Designs varied wildly, some soldiers used clubs similar to bats or blackjacks with minimal modification. Others elected to drive nails or spikes into the club for more damage potential. A more standard design was a thick piece of wood with a heavy weight at the striking end. Soldiers often cannibalized other weapons like grenades and mortars for this task. Pipes and metal spools with a large weight welded on the end also made effective weapons. Some tools like entrenching shovels, hatchets, and hammers were repurposed for war, as well.
Some clubs even resembled medieval weapons – and maces even made a return to the battlefield. It certainly seems odd that maces and machine guns shared No Man’s Land, but that was the reality of World War I.
Through World War I, countries began to develop standard hand-to-hand trench weapons. Germany had the Nahkampfmesser (close combat knife). The United States introduced the M1917 and M1918 trench knives, the latter more of a combination of a knife and brass knuckles (which were also used). The British and Commonwealth countries had the Robbins and Dudley push dagger.
DICE and EA pretty much have free reign on developing melee weapons, given the amount of improvisation that occurred during WWI. Hopefully they decide to include the more mass-produced and recognizable hand to hand weapons, in addition to a large number of trench club variants.
Hopefully we’ll have a better idea of what to expect in Battlefield 1 after E3 2016.
What melee weapons do you want to see in Battlefield 1? Tell us in the comments.