clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Battlefield 1 DLC features Harlem Hellfighters — but who were they?

New, 42 comments

A brief history lesson on the World War 1 heroes

The new Battlefield game is taking the series back in time: Electronic Arts revealed today that Battlefield 1 arrives Oct. 21, and that the number "1" on the fifth mainline title references its World War I setting.

As part of the game's Early Enlister Deluxe Edition set, players will gain access to a handful of period-appropriate content. A pre-order bonus for that set at GameStop is a pack inspired by the Harlem Hellfighters, formally known as the 369th Infantry Regiment.

That Battlefield shines a spotlight on the Harlem Hellfighters' is well warranted. The military unit earned that nickname, after all, thanks to their endurance, commitment and success against all odds throughout the First World War. And the odds were great: The Hellfighters —€” dubbed so by their enemies, the Germans — were predominantly African-American, fighting for their country at a time when white soldiers didn't want to stand alongside them in battle.

The History Channel video above explains the Harlem Hellfighters' importance and influence. Among their achievements: They survived over six months in combat, more than any American unit; members of the regiment were among the first-ever Americans honored with French military decorations (like many black troops, they were deployed abroad); they returned home to New York €” and were met with a resounding homecoming parade, practically unheard of for African-American soldiers in the early 20th century.

Of course, as the video explains, the Hellfighters were also held back by discrimination, despite their many successes. Although it's uncertain how much of this history is referenced in-game, it's impressive that Battlefield 1 features the groundbreaking group.

The Harlem Hellfighters pack is a nod to the Great War's diverse combatants that's also reflected on Battlefield 1's cover art. There's even a statue of the box art's star in the Collector's Edition package, above.

We'll have more to see from EA's depiction of the Hellfighters closer to Battlefield 1's fall release on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. Take a look at the game in its debut trailer below.