For decades, video games with historical settings, characters, and themes have achieved great success and popularity. Franchises such as Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Assassin’s Creed have used history to immerse fans in detailed, complex worlds.
However, few titles have managed to stay entirely true to the past. Whether we like it or not, video games are a medium through which we learn. Consequently, historically inaccurate video games can convince people that fictional accounts are accurate and truthful.
It is true that game developers sacrifice historical integrity for justifiable reasons, such as the betterment of gameplay or the plot. However, gamers should still be educated about the truths and falsehoods of the past. The following five video games are particularly egregious in replacing much of historical fact with fiction.
Through its gameplay, art style, and sound design, Battlefield 1 does a good job of embodying the horrors of World War I. However, many of the weapons used in the game, as well as the playable Elite Classes, aren’t entirely historically accurate. They are anachronistic, experimental, or were never even used in WWI in the first place. For example, the Hellriegel 1915, the Annihilator submachine gun, the Selbstlater 1906, and the General Liu Rifle, among others, were prototypes.
As such, these guns were never used in wartime. Battlefield 1, however, allows players to use them as fully-fledged, operational weapons. Many weapons in the game, such as the Selbslater M1916, the Mondragón rifle, the Beretta M1918, and the Autoloading 8, were rarely used during the war. Furthermore, minor additions, like the use of scoped weapons, tamper with historical accuracy, as scopes barely saw action in WWI.
Assassin’s Creed Franchise
The Assassin’s Creed franchise creates immersive, historically accurate worlds, but its plot is grounded in alternate history. Assassin’s Creed states that the conflict between the Assassins and the Templars causes pivotal historical events and tragedies. The series even posits that such conflict continues into the present-day; in the 21st century, the shadowy, Templar-run Abstergo Industries fights for dominance over the beleaguered Assassins.
However, the groups upon which the Assassins and Templars are based, the Ḥashshāshīn and the Knights Templar, don’t exist today. In reality, they became defunct in the Middle Ages. Thus, aside from its historical settings and inspirations, Assassin’s Creed’s plot is fictional. It warps the past to create a dualistic conflict between two long-dead orders, a conflict which nearly destroys the world.
The Saboteur attempts to tell the story of the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris, which makes for an intriguing historical setting. However, not much in this game adheres to the rules of the past. The Nazi antagonists in The Saboteur use scientifically-advanced weaponry that did not exist. For instance, the game’s Nazi Terror Weapons destroy historical integrity. The Terror MP60, a bulky, handheld machine gun, holds 150 rounds and can decimate entire squads and vehicles.
Additionally, the Nazis produce outlandish vehicles and operate campy sci-fi facilities. At the highly-futuristic Doppelsieg Motorworks, the Nazis build race cars with specialized nitrous booster systems. Also, zeppelins with searchlights ominously fly over Paris, raining down MG 42 fire on the player. This is odd, as all German zeppelins were destroyed by the Nazis before the invasion of France. Sure, The Saboteur is based on actual history. However, the game often uses futuristic, steampunk aesthetic instead of the designs of WWII-era Paris.
The historical inaccuracy of Dino D-Day is blatant. The game features Allied soldiers fighting against the Nazis and their trained dinosaurs. When during WWII did the Allies fight against scientifically-augmented reptilians? The answer is “never.”
Surprisingly, the game does feature historically accurate weaponry. Guns including the MP 40, the Sten gun, the PIAT, the Kar98k, and the M1 Garand make an appearance. However, aside from its weapons, Dino D-Day bears no resemblance to actual history.
Bladestorm: The Hundred Years’ War
Bladestorm: The Hundred Years’ War is based on a bloody, decisive moment in English history. Unfortunately, it almost entirely abandons its source material. Players charge into battle like a Medieval Rambo, leading soldiers who glow in battle and swing glowing weapons. The game’s combo and points system also depart from any realistic depiction of combat during the Hundred Years’ War.
Furthermore, Joan of Arc looks like she’s stepped right out of an anime episode. She has flowing hair and over-the-top armor, with extravagant pieces of cloth beneath it. Additionally, Joan of Arc’s English counterpart, Edward the Black Prince, looks like he walked right out of a Castlevania game. To say that this game has any semblance of historical accuracy would be woefully incorrect.