Video games have been exploring history for quite some time now. From the Second World War to the Italian Renaissance to the Prohibition. And when delving into such periods or dealing with aspects and details rooted in the past, things don’t always match up with what actually happened.
Most of the time it’s for the sake of gameplay. Usually to make the game more fun, bombastic, and cinematic. Leading to most changes being positive changes. But not always.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few examples of games portraying history differently than the history books or presenting unrealistic tropes.
The Battle of Rotterdam
During the earlier years of the Second World War, Germany invaded the country of Holland. In the process of this invasion came the Battle of Rotterdam, which saw Dutch forces attempt to repel the German attack. After the Dutch failed to surrender to the German war machine, the bombing of Rotterdam happened, a relentless bombing of the city conducted by the Luftwaffe. Causing catastrophic damage and hundreds of casualties.
Battlefields V, with its focus on the more unknown events in the conflict, decided to take on the Battle of Rotterdam and its bombing. Though in its depiction it gets something quite wrong.
You see, the two nations are engaging in a fearsome battle, in which you control the Germans and the British. The Germans, okay, that’s accurate. They did partake in the fighting. But the British did not. The actual fighting was between Holland and Germany
Armour vs Swords
Have you ever sliced an armored opponent with a sword, leaving their remains looking like a butcher’s counter? If you answered yes, how are you still walking free? That’s sick (in a bad way). Or did you just come from the year 1409?
Well, if you claimed you’re a time traveler, you’re wrong because you wouldn’t be slicing through armour like a hot knife through butter.
In games like Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, Mordhau, For Honor and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, sharp weapons are quite effective against armoured targets. You can even cut through the stuff with them, when in reality sharp weapons wouldn’t have been that effective. And certainly wouldn’t have been leaving armour-plated enemies in two halves.
Blunt weapons such as hammers and maces would be the weapons of choice when going up against armoured combatants. This is because they would have a greater chance to break bones and cause other injuries. As opposed to the sword, which you could indeed do damage with but would be a harder task to accomplish.
Why try to stick the sword or spear through an eye hole, or gap in the armour, when a wallop with a hammer would be easier to inflict pain with? Now I’m starting to sound like the sick one.
(Call of Duty: Black Ops)
During 2010’s Call of Duty: Black Ops, with its campaign set during the Cold War/Vietnam War, a mission titled ‘The Defector’ saw the player get their hands on a Spas-12 shotgun, with a bit of a difference. It was loaded with Dragon Breath rounds.
These rounds ignite, setting fire to the target on impact. It was entertaining to go around blasting incendiary rounds out of a shotty, but in reality, this wouldn’t have happened.
Dragon Breathe rounds haven’t ever been deployed on the frontlines, and they are unsuited for semi-automatic shotguns as they don’t create enough force to make the rounds cycle, causing the spent shell to not be ejected and a new round not being chambered.
Multiple games allow players to wield swords that poison enemies, causing damage over time. Of the top of my head, a game like Assassins Creed: Odyssey comes to mind when thinking about recent titles that feature them.
Poison swords just aren’t impractical, getting the poison nn the sword and keeping it on there would just be a pain. Applying it at the start of a fight would leave you vulnerable.
The poison would be somewhat pointless anyway if the laceration from the sword killed the combatant.
Back to Battlefield V, this time we’re tacking the V1-rocket. Indeed a real weapon, but used in a different way.
During multiplayer matches of Battlefield V, squad leaders can request a V1 to drop in a specific location, causing one big boom and a multi-kill with any luck.
However, V1s in real life weren’t called in mid-battle by troops on the ground to blow up a marked location. In actuality, the V1 mainly saw use in attacks on London. Causing homes to be destroyed and civilians killed.
(Peaky Blinders: Mastermind)
Alright, this one’s sort of cheating, but as Peaky Blinders is receiving a tie-in video game called Peaky Blinders: Mastermind I’m going to mention it. The razor blades sown into caps that are used as weapons in the TV drama series Peaky Blinders.
It may be a staple of the series, but when historian Carl Chinn spoke with the Birmingham Mail they claimed that it is more fiction than fact.
Stating, “As for the razor blades? They were only beginning to come in from the 1890s and were a luxury item, much too expensive for the Peaky Blinder to have used”. Carl Chinn continued saying, “And any hard man would tell you it would be very difficult to get direction and power with a razor blade sewn into the soft part of a cap. It was a romantic notion brought about in John Douglas’s novel, A Walk Down Summer Lane”.
Just For Fun
At the end of the day, none of these tropes or inaccuracies take away from the games. In fact, they make them more entertaining. And this whole piece was just a bit of fun, and hopefully, you may have learnt something as well.
Anyway, if you do fancy playing a game that prides itself in its accuracy to a time period, then check out the RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance.