So Far, 'Battlefield V' Seems to Sand Away the Heart of 'Battlefield 1'


With tracer fire hissing overhead, and grenades and artillery shells exploding along a muddy ridge I was using for cover, I sprinted through the skeletal remains of a crashed airship down to the railway embankment that followed the river’s meander. I dove to the ground, hauled out an anti-tank rifle, and aimed down the railway tracks toward where a massive black armored train was rounding a distant turn. Bristling with weapons and sheathed in the kind of steel plating more common to Warhammer 40K than a history book, the train was an eldritch figure as it emerged from plumes of smoke and a grove of burning flares. Closer and closer it crawled, looking slow but approaching surprisingly fast.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


I’m curious as to Rob’s thoughts about Battlefield’s aesthetic before BF1. The mainline Battlefield games, even BF2, always had a subtle, goofy, knowing undercurrent before 3 and 4 tried to ape Generation Kill and Modern Warfare way too hard in tone. BF1 absolutely had a good thing going with its kind of fucked up, almost “Dishonored but real” tone, but even then I feel like a lot of those maps, particularly those set in the Middle East and Italy, match the author’s note about Narvik being Instagram-like. The cool thing about those was that they started off beautiful, but by the end of a three-round operation a map that started off as a pristine Alpine paradise had descended into a smoky, bombed-out shithell.


I definitely identify with that “goofy” undertone of Battlefield games. For me, the “heart” of Battlefield was all about surfing on the wing of a plane while throwing grenades at other pilots, strapping C4 to an ATV and launching it at a tank, killing an entire squad with a defibrillator, and bailing out of a fighter jet to shoot a rocket at the enemy fighter jet while skydiving. The series feels less like an impressionistic war experience, and more like being a kid playing with toy soldiers and smashing sandcastles in a sandbox.

I can appreciate a carefully-crafted aesthetic experience that attempts to replicate the drama and horror of war. That can be very compelling in short bursts. But that’s not the type of experience that keeps me coming back to a game. It’s not the type of space that I want to inhabit for 100 hours with my friends. Maybe this also intersects with the differences between alphas/betas and released games, or the differences between a critic’s experience of a game and a typical player’s experience.


It’s unclear to me whether or not y’all feel like the aesthetic charm of Battlefield 1 that Rob mentions is somehow in conflict with the goofiness that you describe.

Also I’d like to mention that when “boots on the ground” is used in reference to something else besides a commitment of soldiers to a particular conflict (whether it be this article or the Black Ops 4 conference that was talking about the lack of jet-packs) is confusing and off-putting for me. Not that folks shouldn’t do it, I’m just getting old or too political or something.
Not that I have any love for imperial wars.


I think BF1’s aesthetic is pretty unique in the series because DICE seemed to have an artistic vision that went beyond “This Abrams looks and sounds like exactly an Abrams,” or “This future climate disaster looks pretty shitty.” So, yeah, sometimes the Battlefield silliness, (that I crave, do not get me wrong) such as a downed zeppelin spinning like a top, or an airplane knocking a cavalryman off his horse with a wing, did clash with the desolate WWI aesthetic in a way that beaching an aircraft carrier in the slightly cartoonish 1942 didn’t.

That’s not to criticize the art direction of BF1, but it’s just one of those things inherent to the series.