Until recently, World War I in video games was an almost neglected topic. On the fingers of one hand, you can count the titles whose action would take the player to the times of the Great War. However, the upcoming premiere of Battlefield 1 and the associated mounting hype increased interest in the conflict that shook the world 100 years ago. This is a good moment to remind you that fans of online shooters had the opportunity to move to tight trenches and battlefields with bomb craters long ago.
When I try to remember video games set in the realities of World War I, Iron Storm and Valiant Hearts come to mind. The first is a moderately successful FPS set in an alternate reality where the Great War never ended. The second title is an artistic adventure game about love in a time of war that grips the heart. However, I suspect that it would be much more difficult to extract from memory a list of at least five titles on similar topics. The situation with World War II is completely different, which in the eyes of developers and players turned out to be a much more popular topic.
Next stop Berlin!
Released in the fall of 2002, Battlefield 1942 was a breakthrough game. For the first time, players could fight in the great battles of World War II known from the pages of history. I perfectly remember how inconceivable it was that up to 64 players could fight on one map, there were several classes of soldiers to choose from, and during the game the player could sit at the controls of a Tiger, fly a Spitfir or a B-17 bomber, and even command an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. The scale of the clashes was imaginative and addictive, especially since the active community of modders was constantly developing the mechanics and content of the basic game. It was only a matter of time before trying to transfer this attractive gameplay model to other realities.
Work on a mod that took players to the battlefields of World War I began shortly after the premiere of the original. The work was given the obvious name of Battlefield 1918 and was already available to players in 2004. In 2008, version 3.0 was released, and the last update, number 3.1, was released in May 2011. It’s almost 10 years of almost continuous development – all through the hands of enthusiasts and hobbyists working for free.
For emperor and fatherland!
Battlefield 1918 was a modification from the total category. Everything has changed, from gameplay, through models, music and voice over, to the main menu and interface elements. One shot was enough to kill the opponent – a complete opposite of the situation with BF1942, where most often you can see two players running around each other and loading whole magazines from BAR and MP 40. Here, the basis are manually reloaded rifles, which can be shot once every three seconds. So it is better to shoot rarely and accurately, because by missing you reveal your position and before you can load another cartridge, the opponent has plenty of time to aim and fire his own shot.
Machine gun in Battlefield 1918 was available (one of the classes had it at the start) but to be able to hit it accurately, you had to lie down on the ground first. Firing in this way allowed you to mow down your opponents and easily climb the scoreboard, but on the other hand, staying in one place was an easy target for snipers (see what it looked like).
There were also trenches, which made it easier to navigate the map and actually allowed you to protect yourself against machine and artillery fire. Putting your head above the ground was not the best idea – it was lost very quickly. Speaking of fighting in the trenches, one cannot fail to mention the whole arsenal of small arms, which worked best at short distances. Bayonets, sharpened shovelers, trench sticks and even the American shotgun were available to players who preferred quick clicking to precise aiming with a rifle when jumping into the trench. Admittedly, the hand-to-hand combat looked quite comical when viewed from the side, but defeating the other player with a shovel was very satisfying and often ended with the shout of “Uber-spade!” In the chat.
The creators of the mod recreated a whole lot of equipment that was used for 4 long years of the war. From the first prototype tanks, through various types of two and three-plane aircraft, armored cars, boats with steam engines, battleships and airships. With each successive update of vehicles, more and more were added. For someone with an interest in the military of this era, the launch of Battlefield 1918 was a true journey back in time.
And last but not least, I saved the best. When players waiting for Battlefield 1 complain about the lack of French in the game (after all – one of the main forces involved in the conflict), BF1918 offered the possibility of transferring to almost every front of the war. We could choose not only the great powers of Europe, but also small countries such as Belgium. The maps included battlefields in the African and Asian colonies. There were over 90 of them, both modifications from the basic version of the game and completely new ones. The choice of the map depended on what the gameplay was focused on – there were those that you were running on your feet all the time, narrow pieces of the front where teams were pushing the front line back and forth, vast areas with lots of vehicles, maps with objective ‘ami, where one team manned itself in the fortress and the other tried to break through to the next resistance points, areas after a gas attack, air battles (only planes + airships), naval battles, sieges of fortresses and ports (see this incomplete list for example). It was really hard to get bored.
A nostalgic return
Ok, I admit – I used to spend far too many hours with BF1918 and all this hype around the new DICE studio game prompted me to type today’s entry on the keyboard. The new Battlefield dazzles with graphics, dynamically changing terrain on the battlefield and the weather. And you can’t forget about this gigantic airship, the wreckage of which remains on the map until the end of the game. It promises to be a brick hit and it’s hard to compare it with the once popular but still niche mod to the archaic game today.
It turns out, however, that Battlefield 1918 has not been completely forgotten. There are still enthusiasts who play it and every Saturday around 6:00 pm you can move back to the muddy trenches. Moreover, today it is much simpler than it used to be. The original Battlefield 1942 is available today for free on the Origin sales platform. You just need to create an account there and download the game for free. Then download the modifications from ModDB servers and search for the last server on which this modification works (unfortunately you have to enter the IP address manually). If you are not allergic to graphics that stick with the mouse, I encourage you to try your hand at the Amiens fields, Tannenberg forests, the trenches of the Hinderburg line or the streets of Krakow. It’s a completely different experience to what can be seen in modern online shooters.
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