Battlefield 5’s latest update, Overture, features a new single-player campaign mission. Called “The Last Tiger,” it puts players in the commander’s cupola of an awesomely powerful Tiger I tank, arguably the single most devastating weapon system ever fielded by Nazi Germany. Rather than a celebration of the soldiers inside their steel beast, the experience is a resounding denouncement of fascism in all its forms.
The main playable character in “The Last Tiger” is Peter Müller, a black-clad German tank commander, charged with a last-ditch defense of a town near the Rhine river. The fighting is close-quarters, with U.S. Sherman tanks and light armored cars literally bouncing off the front fender at times.
The gameplay itself is fairly easy, with the biggest challenge coming in the final few moments in a cramped courtyard outside a destroyed cathedral. The mission’s only stumbles come when Müller has to get out of the tank and sneak through Allied lines, once to retrieve intelligence and again to man an anti-aircraft gun. The turret sequence itself is particularly grating, as British Blenheim bombers zoom around like aliens from Galaga.
Put simply, I’ve never seen an armor battle quite like this on my PC’s screen before.
When the Tiger’s massive, 88-mm rounds slam into the side of Allied tanks the results are terrifying. Shermans spout flames from every orifice as fuel and ammunition cook off, turning tanks into pressurized vessel filled with fury and death. The pyrotechnics look incredible, especially during the final standoff which takes place at night. While the impact on the tankers inside those Shermans is sanitized somewhat during gameplay, several cutscenes make it clear the kind of suffering the doomed men inside are enduring.
The mission’s conclusion is similarly gutting, and while I won’t spoil it here, it clearly shows which side of history its developers are on. The coda even references the infamous defense given by the perpetrators of the Holocaust during the Nuremberg trials, that German soldiers were “just following orders.” As if that weren’t emphatic enough, the mission’s final lines quote Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, a novel about the aftermath of the rape and murder of a young girl: “Murderers are not monsters, they’re men. And that’s the most frightening thing about them.”
Overall, the action is intense and strikes a decent balance between historical accuracy and arcade-y fun. The entire experience can be completed in under two hours. Players who finish all of its challenges and pick up all of the collectibles hidden throughout will receive a free cosmetic item.
Ironically, the unlock is an “epic” skin that can be applied to German Tiger I tanks in multiplayer.