The Internet melted on Friday. With Battlefield 1, DICE delivered on their promises, dropping a fantastic trailer showcasing World War I combat like we’ve never seen it before. I was over-the-moon about the decision to return to an earlier time, and leave jetpacks, mechs, and exosuits to other franchises like Call of Duty and Titanfall.
What I’m not normally over-the-moon about is preorder bonuses. Mainly because these bonuses have grown increasingly-lame over the past few years. To me, they’re a gimmick to sell a game – most of the time.
If you can’t watch the video:
While we don’t know all of the details surrounding Battlefield 1‘s preorder bonuses, I’ve seen enough to order the game already. Here’s what Electronic Arts and DICE have put on the table with the Digital Deluxe Edition for your day one dollars:
- Pre-order and get the Hellfighter pack, containing themed items inspired by the heroic Harlem Hellfighter infantry regiment. Also includes 7 days early access to a map released later in 2016. Deluxe Edition includes the Red Baron Pack and the Lawrence of Arabia Pack – containing themed items. Plus five Battlepacks containing combinations of items. Exchanges the visual appearance on three of the largest vehicles in the game. This edition allows you to start playing Battlefield™ 1 three days earlier from October 18.
Early access and Battlepacks aside, the themed items have piqued my interest. I love history, and the World War I era is one I find extremely interesting. Having the opportunity to don something related to the Harlem Hellfighters is all the push I need to preorder Battlefield 1. Who are the Harlem Hellfighters, you say? They’re complete badasses, for a variety of reasons.
The Harlem Hellfighters were also known as the 369th Infantry Regiment. An infantry regiment of the United States National Guard, they saw action in World War I, most notably the Second Battle of the Marne, and the Meuse–Argonne offensive. Uniquely, the regiment was comprised of Puerto Rican and African American soldiers, and they experienced racial discrimination everywhere they went. In April 1918, the regiment was assigned to the French Army under the 93rd Infantry Division, because many white American soldiers refused combat duty with African Americans. The French Army had a considerably higher opinion of African Americans, and the 369th was assigned to the trenches for the Second Battle of the Marne. The regiment wore American uniforms, but used the French “Adrian”-style helmets. This is reflected in the Division’s shoulder sleeve insignia, which depicts a blue Adrian helmet.
In September 1918, the regiment went on the offensive as part of the American drive in the Meuse–Argonne. The 369th performed well in combat, actually advancing faster than the French troops on their flanks. It wasn’t without a price, however. The 369th suffered severe losses. Because of their ferocity in battle, the nickname “Hellfighters” was given to them by the Germans. The regiment never lost a man through capture, lost a trench or a foot of ground to the enemy. The Hellfighters continued their forward momentum for the remainder of the war, and was the first Allied unit to reach Germany’s Rhine river.
Over the course of the war, the regiment suffered nearly 1,500 casualties.
Some members of the 369th were highly-decorated, including Pvt. Henry “Black Death” Johnson and Pvt. Needham Roberts, who fought off a 24-man german patrol. After expending all their ammunition, Johnson fought the Germans hand-to-hand with a bolo knife, while Roberts used his rifle as a club. Johnson was the first American to receive France’s highest military honor, the Croix de Guerre, and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by the United States in 2015.
It’s widely acknowledged the “Harlem Hellfighters” contributed significantly to American public’s opinion on African American soldiers and helped pave the way for future African American soldiers.
So, while T.E. Lawrence and Baron Manfred von Richthofen are compelling historical characters, they are relatively-well known. I am excited to see Electronic Arts and DICE shed some light on some of the toughest, and oft-ignored, participants in The Great War. And that’s worth a few extra dollars to me.
What do you think about the inclusion of the Hellfighters? What about the “Red Baron” or “Lawrence of Arabia?” Tell us in the comments!