The Infinite Zenith

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

Tirailleur: Reflections on the Battlefield V Campaign

“When the French army liberated Paris, they pulled back all the black troops. They replaced them with more…familiar faces. But I know what we did. And at what cost. And I’m proud of it.” —Deme Cisse

Deme Cisse is a Senegalese veteran who fought under Idrissa in a Tirailleur company. After arriving in France and deemed unfit to serve on the frontlines, they are asked to destroy German anti-air emplacements and capture a German position. Fighting against better-armed German soldiers, the Tirailleurs manage to succeed, and emboldened by their success, Deme rallies the other Tirailleurs into pressing ahead, arguing that they’ve done more than the regular French forces has thus far. The Tirailleurs press into German-held ground and attempt to take out additional German anti-air guns, but several Tirailleurs are captured in the process. As they destroy the last of the guns, a wounded German soldier taunts the Tirailleurs, saying that they are surrounded. In order to deceive the Germans, Deme recommends pushing ahead and capturing a château under German control. After clearing a village out, the Tirailleurs head for the château and defeat the German forces guarding it. However, a Tiger I appears and opens fire on the Tirailleurs. Idrissa manages to approach the tank and disable it with a grenade, but dies in the process. When Deme breaks into the château, he finds wounded Germans everywhere. The French captain arrives and congratulates the Tirailleurs, asking for a photograph, but the Tirailleurs are removed from the photograph later. Even though history failed to record and recognise their considerable contributions to the war, Deme remarks that he knows what they’ve done. In the course of World War Two, a total of two hundred thousand Senegalese Tirailleurs fought for France, and in 2010, France would award full military pensions to the surviving thirty thousand veterans. Twenty-eight Senegalese Tirailleurs would be granted French citizenship in 2017 by former French president Francois Hollande, indicating that their heroics had not only been remembered, but also celebrated.

The Senegalese Tirailleurs were light infantry recruited from Senegal; formed in 1857 by Louis Faidherbe, the Tirailleurs were meant to act as soldiers to offset the limited number of soldiers in French colonies. They would serve in both World War One and World War Two, but for the most part, their contributions have remained quite unknown. This is the theme that the Tirailleur war story portrays – while every soldier has a story to tell, not every soldier’s story is recorded into the annals of history. Seeing things from the eyes of a Tirailleur brings to light the sorts of challenges and struggles they had while fighting in France; from the distain of the regular French Army to the power their enemy has brought to bear, the Tirailleurs fought an exceedingly difficult battle in France, and did so with distinction. Against all expectation, Deme and his brothers-in-arms manage to accomplish what was thought to be suicidal. A French captain is impressed with their actions, but the social climate meant their actions would be skated over and go uncredited. In spite of this, Deme believes that his actions were not in vain, and that regardless of what the world may otherwise be told, he remembers what he did and knows that their actions counted for something. When I played through the Tirailleur war story, I immediately found a relatable story – I recall a personal story during high school where I single-handedly finished the yearbook when all of the IB students pulled out, and one of the IB students was given recognition for finishing the project. My personal belief is that I will do what is necessary to get things done, and people have taken advantage of my work ethic for their own ends. I had joined the Yearbook Club to make yearbooks, and strove to finish it simply because it would be a a record of classmates’ memories, which I could be proud of. The day the yearbooks arrived from the print shop, I was called out of class to help the yearbook advisor unpack the yearbooks, and seeing the finished product was something that made me far happier than receiving a medal could. Deme similarly knows what he accomplished counts for something, and even if others may not recognise his achievements, he still knows and can be proud of it.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Deme starts Tirailleur with the Chauchat LMG; this distinct-looking weapon made an appearance in Battlefield 1 as a support weapon that I found to be quite difficult to use at my preferred ranges as a result of its low fire rate. From a design perspective, the Chauchat was an innovative weapon that can also be thought of as a precursor to modern battle rifles, although its unusual magazine meant it was susceptible to jams.

  • Tirailleur has the second-nicest environments in Battlefield V‘s war stories: the autumn forests and orange foliage look amazing amongst the shafts of volumetric lighting. The aspen groves in my area cover the ground in leaves of yellow during the autumn, and during this time of year, I find it to be especially pleasant for walks. While still quite warm, later summer and early autumn days are not as hot as mid-summer, and nowhere nearly as cold as a Real Canadian Winter™, making it perfect for being outside.

  • The Chauchat’s low rate of fire works to its advantage, but I eventually switch over to other weapons to improve my adaptability. After clearing out a German position, I find an FG-42 among the host of semi-automatic rifles. The FG-42 remains a solid choice for mid-range engagements even with its iron sights, and in the campaign, the lack of options for changing out the weapon sights means that I’m more ineffective with semi-automatic or bolt action weapons.

  • Deme passes over a ridge and into a gully below lined with concrete Drachenzähne (Dragon’s Teeth), designed to slow down armour. These constructs were employed widely by both Allied and Axis powers, and their construction means that many installations are still intact. The wide open spaces here means that having a good long-range weapon becomes an asset: I picked up a scoped M.95 Gewehr and used it to pick off enemies, but ammunition scarcity forced me to push on ahead.

  • A multiplayer map similar to this area of Tirailleur could be a solid choice for the breakthrough and frontlines game modes: we’re nearly four months into Battlefield V‘s launch, and while new weapons and vehicles have been steadily introduced, what’s really missing from the classic Battlefield experience are new maps. Battlefield V does feel distinctly minimal with its launch content, and while I’ve yet to hit the maximum rank for my medic and recon classes, I have reached level fifty now. The limited map selection and absence of American, Russian and Japanese forces is especially noticeable.

  • I am continuing to hope that Russians, Americans and Japanese soldiers, weapons and vehicles will make it into the game over the next two years; it is still early in the game, and should Battlefield V prove too dull, there are a host of other games I can play through in the meantime. With this being said, the Tides of War weekly assignments have given me incentive to return and play the game: DICE has applied the Road to Battlefield lessons of old and managed to return me to the game, but what will really drive my excitement is new maps and iconic experiences like Normandy and Iwo Jima.

  • While it was disappointing to learn that the Tides of War won’t bring any new war stories into Battlefield V, I do understand that campaign missions can be quite labour-intensive to implement. Besides event programming and voice acting, levels must also be designed to accommodate a single-player experience. With this being said, I am not of the mind that future Battlefield titles should skip out on a campaign: I’ve never been a fan of pure multiplayer games, and a quick glance at my library shows that Battlefield is about the only series that I actively play multiplayer for.

  • For me, a good game is an interactive, immersive experience. I play games for the same reason that I read books: to lose myself in another world and take in the sights and sounds developers, engineers, writers and actors/actresses have crafted into a virtual world to create a realm that merits exploration. Single-player games are immeasurably enjoyable for this reason, and for me, is what defines gaming. As such, it is fortunate that developers and publishers continue with single-player games that promote experiences: titles like DOOM and Deus Ex are examples of recent single player games with solid value.

  • Once I reach the final point in Tirailleur’s first act, I managed to clear it out and found an MG-42. This is the last weapon unlocked for the support class, and it is a beast of a weapon with its firing rate. I’ve managed to unlock it and have made use of it, finding it an excellent defensive weapon. The only downside about the weapon is that even with all specialisations, one cannot accurately run a Strike Witches loadout: the drum magazines are not available for the weapon as it is for the MG-34. However, the MG-42 is a fine weapon: with up to 250 rounds and a distinct overheating animation where the player will swap out a barrel, the weapon is a joy to use.

  • While Tirailleur’s first act involves going loud, the second act requires more stealth elements. Deme is equipped with the De Lisle Commando Carbine, an excellent suppressed weapon that can be used to engage enemies at range. I find that stealth in Battlefield campaigns is out of place and strictly speaking, quite unnecessary: Battlefield is about shooting stuff, after all, and to go through a campaign while avoiding firefights, however realistic it might be, feels contrary to the point of a first person shooter.

  • I’ve heard that the medic class will be getting a new class of weapons quite soon, and moreover, that this class of weapons will be suited for a longer-range playstyle that will allow medics to engage distant foes on maps where close quarters is in shorter supply. This is most welcome: having options is what gives players the sense that they are always ready to deal with whatever comes their way, and for the longest time, the medic was constrained to close quarters.

  • Here, Deme must sneak past groups of German soldiers to rejoin his unit, before they can continue taking out anti-air emplacements deep in enemy territory. I ended up giving up on stealth halfway through and proceeded to blast everything in sight: this is a recurring trend in video games, and I’m sure numerous other players have seen this happen. I am certain that there is probably a handful of flanking routes I could take to avoid detection, and this, along with an epic melee weapon, could merit a revisitation in the future.

  • Once the fortified German positions are reached, it’s time to go weapons hot and blow up anything that moves. While I’ve hung onto the M.95 Gewehr for ranged combat, there’s no point in having two single-action weapons. German soldiers here will drop MP-40s, and I gratefully swapped out the De Lisle for one. The MP-40 is an excellent submachine gun all around, and in the multiplayer, I’ve enjoyed extensive use of the weapon in close quarters, where the medics excel.

  • It’s been some three months since I actually completed the Tirailleur mission: these screenshots were taken on the evening of December 3, and attesting to how busy I’ve been, it’s only now that I have found the time to write about my experiences. Fortunately, my recollection of these missions are excellent – for instance, I still remember that it was a cold evening early in December when I pushed through this mission. I had reached the end of the second act when I got an email with some documents I needed to fill out.

  • Overlooking the village, Deme must disable all of the weapons down below before his fellow Tirailleurs can advance. I was somewhat successful with a stealth approach and managed to disable one of the weapons without being detected. In retrospect, it was probably a better idea to keep the De Lisle, and here, I stopped to admire the scenery before continuing with the mission; it’s a beautiful morning, and all is quiet, but things are about to go loud very quickly.

  • The story I recount above with the Yearbook Club is an older one, and a few evenings ago, I found the yearbook in question. In it, I see a younger self standing in the middle of the Yearbook club surrounded by people I was sure were only present in the beginning, since I hardly saw more than a third of the people actually doing club activities. I was on excellent terms with the club advisor, and do remember spending many club meetings where it was just us. Hence, I was surprised that the individual who won the Yearbook award was someone who I recalled as being largely absent from club activities after classes.

  • For me, the real happiness was seeing how nice the printed yearbooks looked. I knew that I had put my best into making the books, and that’s what counts. With this being said, the school eventually did catch wind of my role in making sure the yearbooks came out alright, and on the night of the awards, I received an unengraved medal under the Yearbook Club category, which suggests to me that a last-minute decision was made. Here, I push up the hill towards the château: it is heavily guarded, and with other the Tirailleurs, I fended off the defending German forces, making use of a Panzerfaust I found to soften up enemy positions.

  • After reaching the top of the road and punching through the château’s main gates, I cleared the area of remaining Germans. A Tiger I appears and wrecks havoc, but is destroyed. In the aftermath, the Tirailleurs secure the château, exceeding all expectations. With this final act done, I’ve finished all of the war stories that were available at Battlefield V‘s launch, and the last remaining war story deals with the German perspective, so I’ll be writing from the perspective of a Tiger I commander.

  • When I last wrote about Battlefield V, I remarked that the StuG IV Tides of War assignment was not worth my time. I ended up eating my words and somehow managed to achieve it the day before DICE decided to modify the assignment to only require five kills rather than twenty. With this modification, however, players were left in limbo and unable to unlock the tank if they had more than five kills but less than nineteen. Perseverance had paid off for me: and thanks to how much time I spent in the gunner seat, I was already rank three for the tank by the time I got it. The assignments for the past two weeks have been more reasonable, and I managed to earn this week’s weapon, the Ross Mk III, in 90 minutes of gameplay.

  • This leaves plenty of time in the upcoming days for going through The Division 2‘s open beta, which runs from March 1 to March 4. Today is also the last day of February: we leave the shortest month of the year behind, and I note that of the nine posts I wrote, six of them dealt with gaming. First and foremost, I should thank my readers for putting up with this. In March, I will be writing more about anime again – Non Non Biyori Vacation is out now, and I am looking forwards to schooling Anime News Network’s pathetic excuse of a review soon. I will also be writing about Penguin Highway and wrapping up my CLANNAD ~After Story~ revisitations. Readers, however, should be aware that I’m going through Ace Combat 7 at a smart pace. As well, I still have one more campaign mission for Battlefield V and at least one reflection of The Division 2‘s open beta. Hence, March will have its share of gaming posts, as well.

Great accomplishments going uncredited, or else being credited to other individuals is an unfortunately common occurrence. Because there is a bit of a personal story attached to this, I found that from a thematic perspective, Tirailleur is probably the strongest war story, underlying what Battlefield V‘s war stories were meant to accomplish – deliberately choosing to explore obscure and remote operations fought by individuals who never got much recognition shows the extent that World War Two impacted the world. In particular, Tirailleur’s dealing with credit (or a lack thereof) where it is due is a powerful reminder that there are numerous aspects of World War Two where heroics and sacrifice are untold simply because of how vast the conflict is. In conjunction with a vividly designed autumn level filled with oranges and reds of foliage, Tirailleur presents to players a solid experience that is probably the most consistent with older Battlefield campaign missions, as players are made to accomplish tasks in a bombastic manner involving good aim and good positioning. While the AI in Battlefield V‘s war stories leave much to be desired, the campaigns do offer a more relaxed, cinematic experience compared to the more chaotic and unpredictable nature of multiplayer. With this post in the books, I only have one more war story to cover, following a tank commander in the final days of World War Two as Allied forces close in on Berlin.

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