The Infinite Zenith

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

The Runner: Reflections on the Battlefield 1 Campaign

“Age is no guarantee of efficiency.”
“And youth is no guarantee of innovation.”
—Q and James Bond, Skyfall

Veteran message runner Frederick Bishop encounters Jack Foster, who claims he is Bishop’s new charge. Despite his initial doubts about Foster’s capabilities, he consents to mentor Foster on the condition that Foster does not participate in any active combat. The fifth mission begins with Bishop storming the beaches in the Gallipoli Campaign and capturing a strategic location on the hill, and the next day, Bishop volunteers to run a message in Foster’s place, learning that the British forces intend to retreat under heavy artillery fire. After returning to their headquarters, Bishop learns that Foster has participated in an attack against Ottoman forces and sets out to retrieve him. Upon finding Foster, Bishop decides to cover his and the wounded’s escape by storming a fortress; Bishop orders Foster to fire a flare to signal when they’ve suceeded in escaping. While Bishop’s one-man operation is successful, he is wounded and fails to escape the British artillery, losing his life in the process. Perhaps the greatest Ottoman campaign of the Great War, it resulted in the Allied forces withdrawing and led to the Turkish War of Independence, resulting in the birth of the modern nation of Turkey. It’s a chapter in World War One’s history that I’m not too familiar with, although like the other campaigns far removed from the Western Front, these battles had a major impact in shaping the world during the Inter-War period.

The message conveyed in Battlefield 1‘s fifth campaign mission is the idea that life and death on the battlefield occurs independently of experience and skill. Joining with the intent of experiencing glory, Foster soon learns that death is indiscriminate; the difference between him and Bishop is that the latter is well aware of this and has accepted this, whereas Foster is green and thus, grows fearful in the face of death. In their short time as mentor and student, Bishop instructs Foster in fundamentals, passing along his knowledge. As a result, Foster is able to rescue Bishop during a tense moment during the campaign, but ultimately, in spite of his own experience, Bishop is not able to survive the battle. This harsh reality is thus driven home by “The Runner” to reiterate that many men, both experienced and inexperienced, were at the mercy of events around them, bringing to light yet another darker side of conflict that far eclipses the prospect of glory. By the time of the Great War, innovations in weapons meant that there was no glory, just death. The ensuing casualty numbers were a sobering reminder of how technology allowed for more efficient slaughter of fellow humans compared to past wars, and this resulted in the First World War being dubbed “The War To End All Wars”; in retrospect, there is a degree of irony in this moniker, since World War Two became an even more widespread and devastating conflict a mere two decades later.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • “The Runner” is broken up into three acts, with the first involving a Normandy-style landing of the beaches by British forces. The invasion of Gallipoli marked the first operation that would shape later amphibious landings: such campaigns opened with sustained artillery bombardment from naval vessels, followed by the deployment of soldiers to capture and secure coastal regions, paving the way for a much larger force to be deployed.

  • As the first example of a modern amphibious landing, the Gallipoli operation involved both air and naval support. Inside the confusion, Bishop must make his way up the cliffs and capture a point. There’s a combination of close quarters and distance combat, and initially, Bishop is armed with a SMLE MKIII optical for longer range engagements. A Model 10-A is available for dealing with infantry at close quarters. Here, I use a rifle grenade to neutralise a machine gunner.

  • The Ottoman soldiers man machine guns and can be a bit bothersome to deal with, since they have implausibly good accuracy. I found that hiding in the bushes and carefully lining up a shot to pick them off is probably the best option: anything else, and Bishop will be shredded. Once all opponents are dispatched, there are no more threats, allowing Bishop to move forwards towards the capture point.

  • The Model 10-A becomes an invaluable asset, as it can one-shot anything that moves in close quarters, making it best suited for handling opponents on the capture point. However, for the occasional enemy one encounters en route to the capture point, the Model 10-A can also be relied upon in a pinch. It’s said to be the best shotgun in the multiplayer, and so far, I’ve been using it extensively in TDM for the assault class.

  • One of my readers remark that the M1903 Experimental is probably the best weapon for scouts who prefer playing in closer quarters: equipped with the Pederson Device, which replaces the bolt and allows the weapon to fire .30 caliber pistol rounds. Dealing significantly less damage than bolt-action rifles, the Pederson Device equipped M1903 has a much higher firing rate and less recoil, transforming the weapon into what is essentially a long-barreled pistol.

  • If I do pick up the scout class (which will come the day I want to unlock the Kolibri pistol), I imagine that I’ll probably be better served getting good with any one of the bolt-action rifles and sticking to it, while playing rush or other game modes where opponents are less likely to sneak up on me: I heard that the M1903 experimental’s pitiful damage means that some sidearms, like the Frommer Stop, can out-perform it at close quarters, and moreover, one would likely get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from using the weapon too much. Foliage in Battlefield 1 is on par with that of Crysis 3 in terms of detail and density, but I’m getting much better frame rates in Battlefield 1 than I did with Crysis 3.

  • In the campaign, on normal difficulty, body shots with the bolt-action rifles seem to be a one hit kill. Having a bolt-action rifle confers the most authentic World War One experience in Battlefield 1 compared with the other prototype automatic weapons; it would be quite nice if there were dedicated game modes for reproducing the sort of warfare seen in the Western Front, where each class can only equip bolt-action rifles.

  • There would have to be an all-class bolt-action rifle for such a game mode, and that could get interesting with respect to balance. Back in the campaign, the details in the bathhouse are intricate, and I found myself admiring the little details inside. The full Turkish bath experience is an intricate one that became popular in Victorian England: it involves hanging out in a warm room, moving on into a hot room, followed by a full-body wash, massage and cooling off in a cool room.

  • I frequently mention this, but it never fails to amaze me how quickly time’s flown by: it’s now December, and we’ve put up our Christmas decorations in preparation for this year’s festivities. This year, we’ve had a heavy snowfall on the day the tree went up, and while it’s made driving to the dōjō to help out with a kata tournament that much more tricky, it also means that the landscape’s become a winter wonderland.

  • After spending most of the level with the Gewehr 98 Infantry, I find a sniper variant that comes with a high magnification scope for long range shooting. With clean crosshairs and a smaller housing than the marksman, it’s probably the best version of the Gewehr 98. One of the challenges about picking which weapon to purchase in the multiplayer with war bonds would be knowing which weapon variant has which optics: I’m generally not a fan of the marksman optics on the bolt action rifles owing to their larger, more obstructive housing, but they do not cause scope glint.

  • I’m actually not too fond of running the cavalry class in the multiplayer of Battlefield 1, since their horses seem a little more unwieldy than other vehicles. Programmed with a decision tree that allow them to perform basic terrain negotiation, as well as jumping over short obstructions and refusing to move off cliff faces and into deep water, horses are rather more complex than any vehicle in earlier Battlefield games. In the fifth campaign mission, horses are an excellent way to returning to distantly-spaced objectives.

  • The final act of “The Runner” also happens to be the most combat driven, and now, starting with the Gewehr 98 Sniper, plus the Model 10-A, I’m ready to storm the fortress as a one-man army. Stealth hardly matters here, and I chose to shoot anything that moved. With that being said, it is quite possible to take a stealth approach and sneak past all the enemy forces, but now that I’m armed with cool guns, it would seem a waste not to use them.

  • Compared to the more vivid colours seen in older Battlefield titles, the saturation in Battlefield 1 is a bit more restrained. The end result of this is that enemies in both the campaign and multiplayer become a little more tricky to spot, but otherwise, serves to elevate the photorealistic quality of the graphics in the game.

  • According to the in-game documentation for the Model 10-A shotgun, the German forces protested their use as being inhumane despite making use of chemical weapons during the war themselves. In a bit of irony, players themselves have remarked on how powerful the Model 10-A is in the multiplayer: it is the perfect weapon for close quarters maps, and can down some enemies even at moderate ranges.

  • Armed with two kickass weapons, I ascent to the fortress gates and prepare for the largest battle seen yet in this war story. I remark that as of now, I’ve yet to hear anything about Kimi No Na Wa with respect to its home release. Anime News Network only discloses the box office totals for the movie, and there’s been a great deal of commotion about how the movie was selected for an Academy Awards nomination.

  • While exciting news, my main interest is on when the movie is able to come out on Blu Ray: I was able to watch it under some interesting circumstances, but it would be nice to have a copy of my own at a fantastic resolution such that I can do a proper discussion of the movie. I imagine that there’s a six-month gap between the theatrical release and home release: Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, Shinkai’s last work, released with a similar pattern and despite being a fantastic work, garnered none of the excitement of Kimi No Na Wa.

  • On that note, I’ve also been keeping an eye on Kiniro Mosaic: Pretty Days — it’s a special OVA dealing with the cultural festival, and strangely enough, was a theatrical release despite its short runtime of a single episode spanning thirty minutes. Most OVAs tend to see theatrical releases if there are multiple episodes (Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow and Tamayura: Graduation Photo come to mind as examples): I imagine that there could be a three-month wait for this one to be available, and a special for Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka??, unconfirmed for release somewhere in March-April 2017, might see a similar pattern.

  • Back in Battlefield 1, I’ve finally gotten to the last part of the last act and have cleared out the courtyard of most enemies. By this point, I’ve largely exhausted the Gewehr 98’s ammunition and was made to switch to a Cei Rigotti optical in one of the nearby weapon crates.

  • Clearing out the courtyard was made challenging by the fact that flame troopers will appear. Shooting them in their fuel tanks will do the most damage, although when things get hectic, I usually just unload an entire magazine into them after stopping, dropping and rolling to minimise or avoid fire damage. I’ve heard that elsewhere on the ‘net, folks are in the midst of yet another difficult Kantai Collection seasonal event, and going from their remarks, I am glad not to be them, where instead of players going “[name of ship] GET!”, they’re getting rekt, instead.

  • This is one of the reasons why I prefer playing shooters. They don’t require quite as much of an investment for casual folks like myself, and can be quite fun when one pulls off ridiculously cool stunts in either a campaign or multiplayer. For this last figure, it turns out that there’s also a 12G shotgun lying around here, but because I found it after clearing the area, I never made use of it. This brings the fifth mission’s discussion to a conclusion, and I’ll be returning soon to conclude my thoughts on the Battlefield 1 campaign. After that, it’s onwards to the multiplayer and my impressions of it, having reached rank 14 since I started playing it back in late October.

I’m now down to the last mission in Battlefield 1; the campaign has definitely felt like reading a war anthology relating different snippets and accounts of the different personae in World War One. Based wholly around infantry combat, “The Runner” comes across as being a run-of-the-mill mission in comparison to earlier missions in Battlefield 1, but nonetheless remains quite distinct and memorable in its own right for the dynamics between Bishop and Foster. This mission also marks the first time where I’ve been able to find a bolt-action rifle with mounted optics: earlier weapons only had iron sights, and while I’m growing accustomed to using iron sights for the multiplayer, it is such a nice bonus to have access to optics for longer-range engagements. The bottom line here is that exploring a level and hunting down weapon crates can give players access to more effective weapons beyond those wielded by enemy forces, and while I’ve been nominally exploring the campaign missions, I’ve not made a full effort to track down all of the field guides, or complete all the challenges in each mission. I might go back at some point in the future to complete all of these objectives, but for now, one last mission in the campaign awaits, and then it’s time to wrap up Deus Ex: Mankind Divided  to see where Adam Jensen’s story takes him.

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