So let’s have a chat about the difference between ‘realism’ and ‘diversity’, shall we? Battlefield 1 lead designer Daniel Berlin described the studio’s decision to lead with a Harlem Hellfighter in the announcement of the new shooter as part of the studio’s decision to shine a light on lesser-seen aspects of The Great War.
This is fantastic news from the studio, as there were many conflicts other than mud-strewn trenches that made The First World War what it was. However, that ideal was challenged this week when it was revealed that the studio had reneged on an idea to include female fighters in the multiplayer, ostensibly because their audience wouldn’t find it believable.
Let’s leave out the fact that one of the main characters is a Bedouin female warrior, something that an Islamic people would very rarely allow (again blurring that line between ‘realism’ and ‘diversity’). If you’re going to have a female character representing one faction in single-player, why not have a female model for that faction in the online section?
Of course, the studio is still to reveal much of the game and subsequent details about factions, locations and missions. At this stage much of what people (including me) are saying is purely speculation.
I’m not going to argue that there should be female combatants in all factions - as the only major belligerent in The Great War to employ female soldiers was Russia. I’m not saying that female soldiers should be shoehorned into the game to keep up diversity quotas. What I am saying, though, is how cool would it be for the studio to release a DLC similar to its Harlem Hellfighters pack that enables the (historical) all-female Russian brigades to be played in multiplayer? One of them was even called the “2nd Moscow Women's Battalion of Death”. How badass is that?
If the studio really wants to represent little-known sections of the war, then why not start with one that it thinks its audience would find “unbelievable”?