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A look at the two Battlefield V controversies and the response from DICE

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The Battlefield V reveal earlier this week has been the subject of a very intense debate, with two main points being the cause of great unhappiness among some fans. The first being what they perceived as an unnecessary focus on female characters, and the second being DICE's emphasis on character customization.

Women don't belong in war, especially World War II, and why is our hardcore soldiers looking like characters from Fortnite, and even worse, like they all played in Braveheart and belonged to the Mel Gibson clan. What with that silly blue paint and all. Just look at them! Sacrilege! These fans cried. How can EA allow such inaccuracies in a World War setting? This is serious business, it isn't just about playing video games, and so on.

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Women in World War II

Before we take a look at Oskar Gabrielson's response (DICE General Manager), a few things to consider about the two controversies.

Women already played a significant role in World War I on different fronts. Yes, they were mainly used in non-combatant roles, except in Russia, where they were later enlisted to fill up depleted soldier ranks. Fifteenth such all-female battalions were formed to participate in World War I, with the Women's Battalion of Death being at the forefront. DICE also included this battalion in Battlefield 1. The groundwork was, therefore, established in World War I to include women in some form, this continued in World War II, and varied per country. Russia enlisted female soldiers as combatants right from the start, the U.S. used thousands of women in non-combatant positions (nurses, admin staff, and so on), most countries followed the U.S. policy when it came to enlisting women - meaning, mainly in auxiliary positions.

Russia was in stark contrast to this with about 3% of the armed forces consisting of females in different sections. The biggest parts were again non-combatant, but some served in the Russian Air Force (known as the Night Witches), anti-aircraft units, and infantry. Russian snipers played a major role in World War II, specifically on the Eastern Front, and it's there that Russian female snipers became one of the most feared soldiers on the battlefield. Although most countries on the Allies and Axis sides didn't include women as active combatants, many did play a major role in the war.

Nancy Wake (France) was at the top of the Gestapo's most wanted list, Lyudmila Pavlichenko was considered to be the most successful Russian sniper in history - if not in the world. Poland later also rolled out an all-female battalion under the leadership of Wanda Gertz (she at first posed as a man), who was respected for her experience in special operations. Kathryn Bernheimm an American, was enlisted to relieve male pilots for combat flying.

Something also needs to be said about those women in auxiliary services. Yes, most of them were nurses, but some of them jumped out of airplanes into war zones to perform that role.

It wasn't a mistake of DICE to showcase that female sniper in the reveal trailer, or the women shown in the War Stories section.  There are many stories of women who fought in World War II, and to exclude them would be inaccurate. I agree that their numbers were far less than that of the men, but to say they weren't active in the war would be wrong.

World War II Warpaint

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Let's talk about the second complaint; why the strong focus on character customization?

Warpaint was a thing in some regiments, like America's "Filthy Thirteen" who was known for their blatant disregard of military tradition. The above image shows an actual pattern that was used by a soldier of the Filthy Thirteen in World War II. It was used to honor a soldier's Native American heritage and "to energize the men for the danger ahead."  Warpaint wasn't a big trend in World War II, but it did exist, and let's not forget that we are playing at war games here.

Also, I've dabbled a bit in Fortnite, and I cannot for the life of me see the resemblance to Battlefield V. Can you?

Back to Gabrielson's response. He replied via Twitter with the statements: "We want Battlefield V to represent all those who were a part of the greatest drama in human history, and give players choice to choose and customize the characters they play with. Our commitment as a studio is to do everything we can to create games that are inclusive and diverse. We always set out to push boundaries and deliver unexpected experiences.

But above all, our games must be fun! The Battlefield sandbox has always been about playing the way you want. Like attempting to fit three players on a galloping horse, with flamethrowers. With BFV you also get the chance to play as who you want. This is #everyonesbattlefield."

Personally, I find it a bit ridiculous to insist on perfect historical accuracy in a video game - as long as it isn't completely out there and a total misrepresentation. So, if there were no records of women in World War II, or a mention of war paint, then I would agree that DICE was pushing that artistic license too far.

What say our Battlefield community about these two talking points?

Battlefield V releases worldwide on October 19 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Check out your South African price list as well as all the pre-order details, and don't forget that you can grab two Battlefield expansions for free right now and keep them forever on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Battlefield V's multiplayer reveal will take place during EA Play in June.

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"We always set out to push boundaries and deliver unexpected experiences"

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