DICE has announced that the newest DLC pack for Battlefield 1, “In The Name Of The Tsar”, will feature female soldiers from Russia’s lesser known World War I unit The Women’s Battalion Of Death. DICE made the announcement on Twitter, simultaneously disclosing that the DLC pack is slated for release near the end of summer and that it will feature the female soldiers as playable in the Russian scout class.
Although a majority of Twitter followers initially questioned the authenticity of adding women soldiers to a World War I game, other users quickly came to DICE's defense supporting the historical accuracy of female soldiers on the front—especially the Russian front in 1917.
One of fifteen women exclusive units implemented by the Russians during World War I, The Women’s Battalion Of Death was formed by a peasant woman in hopes of reigniting the waning will to fight in their fellow male soldiers on the Russian front.
Although a small unit of 300 volunteers, The Women’s Battalion Of Death was able to perform admirably before a lengthy retreat and subsequently disbanding after the close of World War I, partly due to their male compatriots' disdain for serving alongside women.
DICE originally shied away from the idea of including women soldiers in Battlefield 1, citing the largely male base of gamers that frequent the game's online modes. However, with Star Wars Battlefront II’s Imperial female protagonist and Horizon Zero Dawn’s female lead, strong women in games seem to be gaining steam. Not only is a protagonist female perspective long overdue, it’s apt to add a fresh viewpoint to a male dominated medium saturated with a fixed, machismo drenched perspective.
Hopefully, the inclusion of playable female soldiers isn’t a purely aesthetic choice meant to flesh out a dominantly interchangeable male cast of multiplayer models. It’d be interesting to explore some of the interactions between female soldiers on the front between themselves and their male counterparts, although no plans of a new campaign or any in-depth exploration of The Women’s Battalion Of Death have been disclosed as of yet. Perhaps the inclusion of female characters in some of gaming’s biggest titles will set a positive trend toward their inclusion in the medium in the future.
Battlefield 1 is currently available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.