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Battlefield 5’s ‘female playable characters are here to stay,’ says developer

A vocal minority of fans got called out by DICE general manager Oskar Gabrielson

Key art used for the cover of Battlefield 5 standard edition features a female protagonist with a pistol and a carbine.
Key art used for the cover of Battlefield 5 standard edition features a female protagonist with a pistol and a carbine.
EA DICE/Electronic Arts
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

After EA DICE revealed Battlefield 5, a small but vitriolic cross-section of fans voiced its concern that the series was pandering to modern audiences by including playable female avatars. So Oskar Gabrielson, general manager at developer DICE, told them, in no uncertain terms, to get over it.

“Let me be clear about one thing,” Gabrielson wrote on Twitter. “Player choice and female playable characters are here to stay.”

Battlefield 5 allows players to create multiple, highly customized avatars as part of the Company of soldiers and assets that they accrue over time. Cosmetic options allow players to choose the gender and ethnicity of their troops. The game also features a female avatar on the cover of the standard edition of the game. Social media and Reddit users see the cover art as evidence of DICE putting its thumb in the eye of historical accuracy. That’s despite broad historical evidence of women taking part in combat operations, guerrilla warfare and espionage during World War II as well as the developers stated goal to tell new and interesting stories.

“We want Battlefield V to represent all those who were a part of the greatest drama in human history,” Gabrielson continued in a threaded series of comments. “and give players choice to choose and customize the characters they play with. Our commitment as a studio is to do everything we can to create games that are inclusive and diverse. We always set out to push boundaries and deliver unexpected experiences. But above all, our games must be fun!”

Gabrielson also pointed out that the sandbox that DICE and its publisher, Electronic Arts, have always sought to create has included myriad actual historical inaccuracies. As an example, he showed a gif of three male avatars riding on the same horse. One player was driving, as it were, while another was hip-firing a massive machine gun and another was painting the landscape with the business end a flamethrower.

The horse, for its part, appeared to be enjoying the ride.

Battlefield 5 is expected to launch simultaneously on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. An early trial of the game will be available to EA Access and Origin Access members on Oct. 11. The deluxe edition of the game will unlock on Oct. 16, with the standard edition coming out on Oct. 19.