Taking the First World War as its framework, the new part of the saga “Battlefield” is as intense to play as it is respectful of history and its actors. And proves that an end-of-year video game blockbuster can also be a sensitive and intelligent game.

Leave aside the multiplayer modes. No matter what, they are certain that, in the FPS in general and in the Battlefield series in particular, the solo adventure is only a training space to fly over before going on to serious things, A rather vulgar concession to the inclinations of those who do not know what is good – namely: bam bam boom boom in collectivity. They are wrong, even when they are somewhat right, that is to say in cases where the solo is treated a little over the leg, because it is never an absolutely neutral demonstration of the Game which one can then enjoy.

BATTLEFIELD 1 The War Game with a Soul

Battlefield 1: The mark of a certain audacity

In these sometimes very scripted events, it is also a vision of the world, and the game, and the place of the player in one and the other that are revealed in 5 to 15 hours – Battlefield 1 is rather in the At the bottom of the range – more or less directed clashes. And this is not nothing, especially when, as in the case of the last production of the Swedish studio EA DICE, one piques to address a real conflict, in this case the First World War.

The explanation of the title is there: it is not, far from it, the first Battlefield (which dates from 2002 and located its fighting in 1942), but it is the one that returns to the origin Of world conflicts, the “1” (World War 1) also marking a (sinister) first time. From the beginning of the adventure (solo, then), there is something funereal in the tone of the game, a weight, a sadness and even more in the look (lost, horrified, past the other Side) of the African-American soldier who looks at us for a long time.

The beginning of the game is also a succession of ends, deaths of soldiers whose names and dates of birth and death come to register, in a minimalist ceremony, on a black screen. The same rule will be valid later on, when the destiny of combatants over time is taken over.

This is not “Game Over” is: a man is dead. It’s quiet (a little). A man or a woman because, yes, Battlefield 1 PC Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One counts a female heroine, and an Arab, in addition. In the context of the commercial video game, it is at least the mark of a certain audacity.

A beautiful story effort

In this game which presents itself as a collection of war memorabilia freely accessible from the beginning of the game without having to finish one to start another – an excellent and too rare initiative – five small stories extracted from the big ‘Offer the player to take him from Cambrai to the Dolomites via the Dardanelles.

Five stories which, it should be noted, do not necessarily end well, which stands out with the usual blockbusters videoludic. Stories of a beautiful variety, which make us fly a tank in the mud or a plane pursued by German hunters, attempt discreet breakthroughs in enemy territory or walk the desert in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia. And tremble for a missing comrade who is looked for with a slight trembling, accompanied by a voiceover to the past.

Escaping Manichaeism

Particularly in its way of presenting the Ottoman fighters (especially in the texts which, on the screen, conclude an episode in which they are our opponents), the game shows a beautiful effort of writing. The staging of these sometimes poignant stories is, of course, a nuisance – Hollywood, say, for the better and the slightly worse – but the ensemble shows a sensitivity and a pedagogical will rare, not so Far, on the same subject, from the most modest Unknown Soldiers: Memoirs of the Great War.

Do not deduce that the single-player mode of Battlefield 1 would be just a glaucous trip. He often reveals himself – forgiven for the big word – extremely funny, including while, weapon in hand, we cross a village in ruins. Scandal? It is quite the opposite: the aim here is not to punish the player but to involve him (including physically: the experience is often intense) by presenting the two sides of a reality: Heroism and drama, liberation (rather than glory) and devastation.

Battlefield 1 also invites us to play small soldiers, to manipulate a primitive cuckoo or an assault tank.

battlefield-1To play hide and seek, to run in the forest. To be eight, but also twenty, and forty, and a hundred and fifty. To note that, of course, war is not great, but that is also a lot of complex and somewhat contradictory things. It is “bringing a piece of iron into a piece of flesh” (copyright Jean-Luc Godard in For Ever Mozart), but also a matter of landscapes and materials, spaces (to conquer or disappear) ) And of lights, elk and discouragement, self-transcendence and alienation. Battlefield 1 does not leave unscathed. It’s very good like that.