The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Avanti Savoia: Reflections on the Battlefield 1 Campaign

“The machine gun is a much over rated weapon.” —Field Marshal Douglas Haig

In the years after the Great War, Luca Vincenzo Cocchiola recounts his experiences to his daughter. A member of the Italian Arditi unit, Luca is tasked with supporting the main unit, which his brother Matteo, is a part of. Luca equips heavy armour and a MG-08/15 machine gun, punching his way through enemy lines and allowing the forces to capture Austro-Hungary positions, taking an anti-air position and repelling an attack. When the Austro-Hungarians detonate explosives that trigger a landslide to hold back the Italians, and out of concern for Matteo’s safety, Luca sets off to find Matteo, assisting Italian forces along the way. Upon reaching a captured fortress and clearing out the hostile forces, Luca finds that Matteo has died. Back in the present, Luca bids his brother happy birthday. Translating to “Go, Savoia” in reference to Italy’s period monarch and used as a battle cry to rally soldiers, the fourth mission of the campaign takes place in the Italian Dolomite mountains, the site of fierce battles between Italian and Austro-Hungary forces. “Avanti Savoia” is the shortest mission campaign of Battlefield 1, spanning only two acts, but in spite of this short time frame, succinctly captures the notion that the First World War’s impact at the family and individual level scaled to affect entire nations.

While long cited as perhaps the most implausible mission of the campaign, “Avanti Savoia” comes across as being an introduction of sorts to the elite classes of Battlefield 1. The elite classes are subdivided into Sentries, Flame Troopers and Tank Hunters, each with their own unique strengths. Equipping the MG-08/15 as Luca means players will experience the Sentry class, which is characterised by its slow movement speed, high damage resistance offered by the heavy armour and a weapon most useful at close ranges. In the campaign, Luca’s equipment allows him to push through enemy lines and lay waste to enemy positions in frenzied close-quarters combat. The MG-08/15 is terrifyingly effective against enemy infantry, and while intended to be fired on full automatic, it can be lethal in bursts, as well. After surviving an assault on his position by enemy aircraft, “Avanti Savoia” takes on a more personal tone as Luca tries to find his brother to ascertain his safety. This desparate mission gives the sense that the combatants in the Great War were still people, each with their own families, backgrounds and stories. While Battlefield 1 does not give much insight into the countless number of enemy forces killed, watching Luca’s own story does lead one to wonder what stories the Austro-Hungarian (and enemy soldiers in general) have, well beyond being game objects programmed with AI to make the player’s experience interesting.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The Arditi unit’s precursors in reality were indeed known for their armour and “Farina” helmets, playing a demolitions role that resulted in many casualties. I’m not too sure as to whether or not the Arditi themselves used such armour; while Battlefield 1 might be portraying the armour and weapons as being more effective than they were historically, the game is trying to go for authenticity over realism. This was quite a point of contention when the game came out, but with the launch past now, it seems that most folks have accepted the new environment and setting that Battlefield 1 offers.

  • The heavy armour provides serious protection against enemy fire, reducing incoming damage by a substantial amount, although it also precludes aiming down sights. Fortunately, the MG-08/15 is reasonably accurate at closer ranges even when fired from the hip and so, this section’s goal becomes a simple matter of clearing out the enemies. While the weapon is intended for fully automatic suppressive fire, I fired in bursts to down opponents to ensure the weapon did not jam mid-combat.

  • I’m ordinarily tempted to reload very frequently so I’m not caught with an empty magazine mid-firefight, but LMGs in general demand a different style of gameplay. Their large magazine capacity is offset by a longer reload time, so it is not particularly useful to reload when one still has around eighty percent of their rounds available. This leads to a new paradigm of gameplay, where I typically reload when I’m down to my last twenty percent of my ammunition.

  • Battlefield 3 and 4‘s multiplayer only allowed soldiers to carry an additional two hundred rounds in reserve for their LMGs, but the MG-08/15, both in the campaign and the multiplayer’s elite class, allows for a staggering eight hundred rounds to be carried in reserve. The original variant, the MG-08, was a general-purpose German machine gun derived off the Maxim gun for German infantry, and the 1915 variant was a lighter version, weighing around eighteen kilograms compared to the standard version’s sixty-nine kilograms.

  • The climb up the mountain is a slow one, as Luca must turn the MG-08/15 to bear against numerous soldiers. In conjunction with Luca’s armour, I almost feel bad for the soldiers going up against what would have seemed an unstoppable force against which they had little efficacy against. Time and time again, I hear the phrase “no effect on target” in shooters, and in games with more fictional elements in their settings, this is usually done to emphasise the power of their opponents.

  • Here, the fog effects in Battlefield 1 are visible: like its predecessors, Battlefield 1 uses the Frostbite 3 Engine and so, the game only represents a moderate jump in graphics. However, subtle details, especially pertaining to details in the environment, such as textures of environment assets and the player viewmodel of their weapons, have been improved substantially. One element I’m noticing is the accumulation of mud and water droplets on a weapon as one moves through the environment.

  • The reason why I’ve only gone through only two magazines’ worth of 7.92 x 57 mm rounds for the MG-08/15 is because I’ve been firing slowly. Though it might be tempting to hold down the trigger and let loose the weapon’s full rate of fire, I figured that I would try to hold onto this weapon for as long as possible.

  • The Dolomites are located in Northeastern Italy and take their name from the mineral, which is found in abundance. At present, the area is a popular tourist location, with skiing being the predominant winter sport. During the summer, rock climbing, hiking and cycling are some of the activities that visitors partake in.

  • As Luca makes his way further up the mountainside, flame troopers are present in larger numbers, and can rapidly deplete the player’s health. The mechanics in Battlefield 1 introduce a new means of lessening damage sustained by explosions and flames; by going prone, fire and explosion damage is reduced slightly, making the difference between life and death. In the campaign, shooting the flame trooper’s fuel tanks will cause them to detonate spectacularly, dealing incendiary damage to nearby enemies, as well.

  • Luca’s secondary weapon is an Automatico M1918. At present, my assault class in the multiplayer is rank one, so I should be able to purchase this weapon’s trench variant, which has a better hip firing accuracy than the factory version. The M1918 generally has a much higher firing rate than the MP-18 and is devastating in close quarters. After clearing the bunker, I somehow lost the MG-08/15 and picked up a Hellriegel in the process.

  • I’ve been playing through the Battlefield 1 multiplayer concurrently with the campaign, and so far, have largely focused on leveling the medic class. In all the Battlefield games I’ve gone through, the medic invariably becomes my most used class, typically because it allows me to heal and revive teammates on very short order. In all versions of Battlefield, and where Battlefield 1 is no exception, I hardly ever play the sniper classes, since I prefer to be in the midst of combat, armed with weapons that let me capture objectives and fend off close opponents at close range.

  • The darkening skies in the Dolomites are reminiscent of what occurs whenever a storm enters my region adjacent to the sun. The amount of water vapour in the air causes light to scatter, reducing the number of photons that make it through, creating a sense of darkness. However, once the storm is overhead, the differences in light and dark become far less pronounced.

  • Repelling the air assault can be a little challenging owing to the amount of smoke and obstruction in the skies once things really get underway. There is only one model of anti-air weapon in Battlefield 1, and while the armies using shared weapons does prima facie seem a little strange, Battlefield 1 is set before nations created dedicated weapons manufacturing firms, resulting in a plethora of weapons diversity presently seen.

  • For “Avanti Savoia”‘s second act, Luca is armed with a Villar Perosa M15, a double-barreled weapon capable of firing 1500 rounds per minute per barrel and originally designed for use on an aircraft. Although the weapon’s weaker 9 mm bullets deal limited damage, the M15 has an effective firing rate of 3000 rounds per minute, making it a beast of a weapon for hip-firing at close quarters environments.

  • While tempting to simply use this weapon, it is more practical to sneak about and silently dispatch the first of the enemies, then ascertain where everyone else is before going loud. While Battlefield 1‘s campaign tips suggest that melee kills are not totally silent, in practise, I’ve used nothing but melee kills to sneak through entire areas without being detected.

  • One of my readers has stated that Battlefield 1 is unoriginal and unimaginative for not presenting things from the Triple Alliance or Axis perspective if the game is in a World War setting, wondering why no game developer is willing to take the leap of faith and do so. There are several explanations: most developers of FPS titles are of an American origin, and there is a market demand for retelling stories of how the good guys kicked the bad guys’ asses in both World Wars. In Germany and Japan, games of different types are more popular, hence the relatively limited number of games told from an alternative perspective, and most developers probably are unwilling to present a campaign where the protagonists are doomed to fail on virtue of historical outcomes for fear of disappointing their audiences.

  • Thanks to its short effective range, I immediately traded off my sidearm for something with a bit more stopping power at a distance, and in this mission, the Gewehr M. 95 is available to fulfil that role. Despite possessing only iron sights, the ranges at which enemies are encountered in the campaign are not too high, so iron sights will be more than sufficient to get the job done.

  • There are several ways to approach the fortress, whether its sneaking in through the basement or taking a more direct route. In comparison to its predecessors, Battlefield 1‘s campaign takes place in more open environments, and offer multiple paths, making it much less linear. So far, I’ve not encountered any quick-time events, either, and overall, while I do miss the real-time weapon customisation offered by Battlefield: Hardline‘s campaign, in general, Battlefield 1 has taken lessons from earlier games and improved on its campaign.

  • My Gewehr M. 95 eventually ran dry, but I was able to source an Selbstlader M1916 Optical: the Selbstlader’s marksman variant is a medic weapon I grew rather fond of during the beta, and a few of my past gaming sessions was indeed to reach rank two for the medic class in order to unlock the Selbstlader marksman, which will be an asset on conquest matches where there is plenty of open spaces. However, as I am very fond of close-quarters combat, I also picked up the Autoloading 8 .25 extended to facilitate my preferred play-style.

  • With the fourth of the campaign mission now over, I’ve only got two missions left to experience and write about for Battlefield 1. The campaign does come across as a bit short, but it’s been quite entertaining, acting as an extended tutorial of sorts for the game’s main attraction, the multiplayer. Naturally, this means that posts for the remaining missions will come out soon, and in the gaming department, I’m very nearly finished the Prague night missions for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

In presenting these war stories in its campaign as opposed to a single narrative, Battlefield 1 is able to explore a variety of different perspectives from fictionalised accounts of the First World War. Because this war is often forgotten in the aftermath of the much deadlier and widespread Second World War, even if the stories in Battlefield 1 are fictional, they nonetheless do much to pique the players’ curiosity with respect to the untold conflicts and campaigns of the Great War beyond the familiar muddy trenches often depicted by media. Thus, through the War Stories, the more unknown sides are brought to light to demonstrate that World War One is more complex and involved much more than the Western Front alone, hence its moniker as the First World War. Battlefield 1‘s unique combination of these short stories in conjunction with unparalleled sound and visual design means that there is much to experience, bringing both the heroics and horrors of the First World War to life in a way that World War One games have found difficult to capture.

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