Battlefield 1 developer EA DICE will add a female soldier to the game’s multiplayer component in its upcoming expansion, the studio announced yesterday.
In the Name of the Tsar, which will be the second expansion for Battlefield 1, is set to be released this summer. It will focus on the Russian Army and, like March’s They Shall Not Pass add-on, it will bring a new class into the multiplayer shooter: the Russian Scout.
As you can see in the artwork above, the introduction of the Russian Scout class will also mark the debut of playable female soldiers in Battlefield 1 multiplayer. “The Women’s Battalion of Death is represented by the Russian Scout class,” the Battlefield Twitter account said yesterday.
For anyone not in the know — including the folks on Twitter complaining that EA DICE isn’t being “historically accurate” with this addition — the 1st Russian Women’s Battalion of Death was a real-life unit during World War I. Formed in May 1917, a few months after the February Revolution, the group of about 300 soldiers was led by Maria Leontevna “Yashka” Bochkareva. (Asked if the Russian Scout class is specifically meant to represent Yashka, an EA representative said on Twitter, “We’re leaving this all at tease levels for now,” along with a winking emoji.)
With buzzcuts and men’s uniforms, the soldiers of this Battalion of Death — which was one of at least four Russian Army battalions that consisted of women — fought valiantly in the Kerensky Offensive of July 1917 on the war’s Western Front. The women led a Russian advance into German territory and took approximately 200 prisoners, but the fighters were later forced to retreat when reinforcements failed to materialize.
The upcoming addition of the female Russian Scout to Battlefield 1 is something of an about-face from EA. One of the game’s five single-player campaigns features a fictional female protagonist, a Bedouin rebel named Zara Ghufran. In an interview conducted prior to E3 2016, Battlefield 1 creative director Lars Gustavsson told Eurogamer that no female soldiers would exist in multiplayer, although he could have been referring only to the content that would be playable at launch.
“So glad you’re excited! We certainly are,” said Dan Mitre, global manager for community engagement at EA, in a response to a woman on Twitter who expressed enthusiasm about the announcement. “The community has been asking for a playable female character for a while now.”