What’s Gus Playing? Episode 15

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The toddler of tanks talks tellingly about trench tactics ~

Lloyd Sabin, 22 January 2018

It took me a ridiculous amount of time to finally fire it up, but this past week I got in some time with Battlefield 1’s single player component, called War Stories. Each story is set at a different front of the First World War. There is a tutorial in which the player takes the role of a black soldier of the 369th Harlem Hellfighters, attempting to hold off a brutal German onslaught. It throws the player directly in to the storm and forces learning by doing. It can be chaotic and insane, but that’s the point. This tutorial is hardcore but effective.

It can be chaotic and insane, but that’s the point.

Out of the six different War Stories (including the tutorial), the player can choose any of the next five in any order he chooses. The next one I chose was set during the Battle of Cambrai in 1917, and as you can probably guess, it puts the player in the boots of a British tanker, assigned to the Black Bess, a kitted-out Mark V tank.

This particular War Story, entitled “Through Mud & Blood,” is broken in to four different chapters which see the player engaged in tank on tank combat against German armored cars, captured French tanks, anti-tank troops, and also engaging in dismounted, commando-style combat against a variety of German troop types. There are literally dozens of weapons to choose from when not piloting Black Bess, the environments are totally destructible, and the combat can be frenetic. Static trench warfare, this is not.

That said, at times it felt like the game was a re-skinned version of other Battlefield games. The First World War vibe is definitely there, but the high-paced combat sometimes felt a little too modern. I still enjoyed it very much…so much so that I’m even dabbling with the idea of playing MP. But so far my hate for people in general has kept me from diving in to an MP game with other players who I don’t know. Months ago, someone in the forums claimed that Battlefield 1 felt like a steampunk Battlefield game, and to a certain extent I found that to be true.

Enjoy the screens below…these are only from the “Through Mud & Blood.” I have played others that I will post in future installments here, but I don’t want to burn through them too quickly. They are not very long at all…maybe 1-2 hours each at the most, and it doesn’t look like any subsequent ones are being released beyond the originals, so I want to extend the enjoyment out for as long as possible.

And it’s not like First World War games, even shooters, are a dime a dozen, so I’ve got to get my gaming money’s worth here.

Here’s the mission map. If I remember correctly, this particular War Story was the longest one available. I really wish more of these would be created. Although not particularly historically accurate, they are very well done.


Before going off to the Western Front, the player’s character was a chauffeur for a living. You can just make out the car he used to drive in the center of the screen.


There she is, the star of the show…Black Bess. Treat her well.


Title screen…probably the calmest part of the entire scenario!



Players will be on foot almost as much as they are piloting Black Bess, and trench combat becomes something that has to be endured.


Black Bess is extremely simple to pilot and fight with, which can be a joy for those not looking for too much historical accuracy. There’s a main gun and a machine gun, and both are automatically loaded. It does border a bit on too much simplicity sometimes.


Just as in the MP version of Battlefield 1, there are strategic points that must be fought for and captured.


Tank movement, albeit simplistic, is very fun. We can only hope that somewhere, somehow, there are a few more Battlefield War Stories like this one being made for SP fans.


Even after only an hour, the player becomes attached to his crew, as personalities begin to show. I give a lot a credit to the Dice team for drawing out emotion from the player in the SP campaign in such a short amount of time.


As you can see, I am torn between the frenetic, almost arcadey feel of Battlefield 1 and the sheer joy of having a game like this set during the First World War at all. I am attempting to not be too critical because to be honest I really appreciate that Battlefield 1 simply exists. Would love to see some additional content in the SP arena from this game or similar games that right now only offer MP, like Verdun and the newly released Tannenberg.

See you next week!

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