Fighting And Dying In Battlefield 1’s Powerful Single Player Prologue

The first thing that springs to mind with Battlefield games isn’t the single player. Speaking candidly, their best story so far came in Bad Company 2, a game that didn’t take itself too seriously and took time out to poke fun at its competitors. Battlefield 1 is, quite understandably, a much more serious and respectful affair.

If you want to preserve these moments for yourself, I’d advise that you stop reading now, either to hop into the Play First Trials that went live for EA and Origin Access yesterday, or to wait for the full release next week.


The prologue is a particularly powerful take on the kind of imagery that we’re familiar from history lessons at school. Set on the Western Front, Storm of Steel is a short introduction, but it really hammers home just how fragile life was on the shelled, muddy wastelands of the frontline.

You die. There’s no getting away from it. You will die several times during this prologue, but where other games – and indeed the five other stories that make up Battlefield 1’s single player – will roll back time to the last checkpoint, there weren’t any checkpoints for the soldiers of the First World War. Each life lost is bookmarked by that soldier’s name, their year of birth and year of death, which, funnily enough, is always the same. As each soldier falls, you move to the next person, taking custody of a handful of men fighting back against a German advance.

It goes beyond that, though. Playing through it a second time, I start to see the soldiers in complete and utter shellshock, just standing there looking around them without any real understanding of what’s going on anymore. There’s also times where it echoes Modern Warfare 2’s infamous “No Russian” level, calling on you to shoot at soldiers in retreat. I caught myself at that point. It didn’t feel right.

Maybe I’m just a sensitive soul, but this was a rare time where a first person shooter, a genre known for bombast and excess, made me stop and think. Certainly, there is a cinematic slant to this, and it’s heavily scripted. It’s designed to be action packed, adrenaline fuelled and push you forward into the fight, making it a great counterpart to the headlong charge into the fray that often occurs in Battlefield games online, but it’s also one of the best illustrations of the horrors of the First World War that I can think of.


Storm of Steel is on its own in that regard. The five standalone stories that follow take a very different tack, following a single fighter and their comrades in arms through a particular battle or campaign in various theatres of the war. You’ll travel to the Middle East and fight the Ottoman Empire, soar through the skies of Europe, battle in Italy, or in the case of Through Mud and Blood, take the role of Edwards, a rookie tank driver at the second battle of Cambrai.

It’s a very different tone to that prologue. Certainly, there are the grand set piece moments, with hundreds of British tanks pushing through German lines, but there’s also moments of quiet. You find yourself isolated and alone, the environment changes to reflect and amplify that, and the tank crew are forced to venture out from their protective chassis – Big Bess, a British Mk. V tank, is not the most reliable of war machines.

Yet there’s still that poignance to the story. This takes place so close to the end of the war, literally a few weeks away from this small group of men being able to go home and try to move on with their lives. None of the stories in Battlefield 1 are true, but being based in real events and with gorgeous looking cutscenes, they can still pack an emotional punch.


Multiplayer will be what draws fans in to play Battlefield 1 – the new Operations mode is a notable addition to that side of the game – but with Battlefield 1, it looks like DICE have finally cracked what it takes to make a campaign. In many ways they’re blessed by dealing with such a difficult subject matter with allows them to strive to find nuance and emotional connections. If the other episodes can match the prologue and the first story, this is going to be quite easily Battlefield’s best single player.

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  1. That’s a great idea in the prologue. I don’t have PS+ or any interest in MP, so was hoping the SP would be good. Probs wait for a significant price drop though, as only playing a small part of the game.

  2. Been playing it on Xbox One, and I completely agree. The campaign prologue is excellent, and the campaign overall has me hooked, but I don’t want to play any more until I get my grubby mittens on the full game. It’s the first SP I’ve been interested in for a while.

  3. Nice preview and what a powerful and sincere idea for the games prologue. I wasn’t really fussed about this, I’m also not bothered about the multiplayer, but if the campaign can in any way recreate the atmosphere that the original Call of Duty managed then I’ll be there with brass bells on.

  4. The concept of the death resulting in the death of that character has a lot of potential and it is a bit surprising that DICE has chosen to go down the war is hell route. Was half expecting it to fall into typical Battlefield stuff instead of this. If the rest of the campaign is like the prologue, I can see myself picking it up. Well, provided the servers are still up by then. The last BF game I played from launch or near around it was BF3 and it had the most generic campaigns i’ve ever played. I recall it trying to outCOD MW3 at the time. Am glad that they have moved from “WE MUST BEAT COD! WE ARE BETTER! WE MUST BEAT COD!” and onto their own thing. If the campaign is the strongest one in the franchise so far, DICE will have to use what they learnt and apply it to BF2. I mean, SW:BF2. I mean, the new SW:BF2. Gaming is odd with names sometimes.

  5. I have no interest in the multiplayer but I think I’ll give the campaign a go, once I see the game on sale.

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