— In-game Description
Storm of Steel is the first mission featured in the Battlefield 1 singleplayer campaign. Serving as a prologue to the war stories, the mission takes place in 1918 somewhere on the Western Front, as the American 369th Infantry Regiment, as well as their French and British allies, make a desperate last stand against an onslaught of Imperial German Army forces.
The mission is unique in that the player controls several different soldiers over the course of the mission, all of whom (excluding the final unnamed soldier) eventually die during combat. The character's names are random for each playthrough and their dates of birth briefly appear following their death. Afterwards, the player swaps into the next soldier.
Break of Dawn
— In-game Description
The mission starts with a close-up shot of a man sleeping on his bed, initially calm, but slowly becomes anxious, while someone tries to calm him. He then abruptly wakes up, seemingly experiencing a flashback. The scene cuts to a battle in the European theater of World War I, in the midst of a melee fight between American, French, and German forces in the no man's land. The man, revealing himself to have been a Harlem Hellfighter, opens his eyes and tries to get his bearings together as he witnesses countless soldiers from all sides killing each other. A German soldier then charges at him with his bayonet, but he is able to dodge the charge and kill the German with his combat knife. He then readies his rifle before the game cuts to black. Shortly after, a short description about the game's depiction of World War I (The above quote) is shown.
The player starts off the mission as another Harlem Hellfighter as he and his squad of more Harlem Hellfighters try to hold back German soldiers using destroyed houses as cover. They kill as many of the soldiers as they could, but they eventually get overrun as everyone, including the player, get killed.
The player then changes to the perspective of another Hellfighter as he uses a Maxim MG to pin down German soldiers as they move through trenches in front of him. In the midst of the battle, a German Airship L30 arrives to pin down the American soldiers defending against the German advance. A shot from one of the airship's Becker Type M2 autocannons hits the player's MG, blowing him backwards to the ground. He quickly picks up his M97 Trench Gun as German forces enter the destroyed monastery. After killing many German soldiers, the player soldier himself eventually gets killed as he and his squad get overrun as well.
Outside of the monastery, a column of British Mark V Landships arrive as the player then starts to control the left-side gunner of one of the landships. The landships drive through the no man's land, pushing back the German advance. At one point, the player's landship has a close call with an enemy FK 96 anti-tank emplacement as a few of the other landships get destroyed by it before the player character destroys it with their 6pdr cannon. However, the player's landship and his crew get destroyed by enemy artillery, killing everyone on board.
The Harlem Hellfighters take the opportunity opened up to them by the Mark V Landships to push forward against the Germans as the player takes control of another soldier. As Mustard Gas gets dispersed across no man's land to slow the American advance, the soldier puts on his Gas Mask and proceeds to gun down some German soldiers before he gets gunned down himself. The player then takes control of a few other Harlem Hellfighters as they do their part to help the Americans advance by killing more of the German soldiers before getting killed themselves.
As the mission comes towards its end, the player then takes control of the Harlem Hellfighter introduced in the beginning of the mission. He pushes forward with his squad as they try to advance on the Germans' fortified position before friendly artillery starts getting fired on the Germans. As the soldier gets closer to the position, he gets hit from behind by a German soldier with a Shovel. However, the German soldier gets distracted by the artillery before he can land the killing blow, which causes both of them to get knocked out from a nearby explosion. The mission then ends with a cutscene of the American soldier waking up as the battle is seemingly over. However, he sees a lone German soldier right in front of him, so he points his rifle at him. The German points his rifle at the American soldier in response. After a few seconds of holding each other at gunpoint while dead bodies are shown being scattered around them, both soldiers lower their rifles as they realize the pointlessness in adding themselves to the high body count of the battle. The American soldier starts narrating about the war and how everyone involved in it, regardless of when and where they fought, has their own story to tell in which this leads to the rest of the game's singleplayer campaign as a montage of scenes from the campaign and multiplayer are shown before the mission ends.
- Storm of Steel is the first mission of Battlefield 1 singleplayer to be publicly shown in its entirety, with twelve minutes of footage released at Twitchcon 2016.
- This soldier switching mechanic is very reminiscent of the hot-swap feature from Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, albeit that it only activates when the last soldier the player controlled gets killed instead of being done at will.
- The war story title may have been named after German veteran Ernst Jünger's World War I memoir, Storm of Steel, a graphic account of frontline combat on the Western Front.
- If the player survives long enough at some points, he'll be automatically killed.
- If the player survives when controlling the first soldier (machine gunner), he'll get killed by artillery.
- If the second soldier (in the church) survives long enough, he'll get killed by an invincible and invisible flamethrower.
- If during the push towards the German lines after the tank is destroyed the player soldier survives long enough before reaching the eighth soldier, artillery will kill the player and shift perspective to the unnamed African American soldier.
- The song that plays in the opening cutscene is "Dream a Little Dream of Me" by Margot Bingham.
- As the song was released in 1931, after the end of World War I, it implies that the entire story is a flashback episode experienced by a World War I veteran.
- One of the soldiers in the cutscene can be seen holding the Barbed Wire Bat.
- The name of each soldier is random per playthrough. A few examples:
- Isaac Truth
- Dean Stevenson
- James Johnson
- Paul McClatchie
- Lawrence Monroe
- Paul Brennan
- Willie Jefferson
- Morris Jefferson
- Henry Armstrong
- Wyeth Wright
- Needham Jackson
- Allen Walker
- Archie Lakeman
- Forrest Washington
- Harvey Nottoway
- Joseph Liberty
- Franklin Liberty
- Clinton Point Coupee
- Harold Perry
- Marvin Fairfield
- Ethan Claiborne
- Alfred Carlisle
- Douglas Williams
- Ronald Plaquemines
- William McCarron
- Alexander Marshall
- Adolph Simmons
- William Sumter
- Hugh Burns
- Tony Edward
- Adam Bouskill
- Julius Beaufort
- John Davidson
- Theodore Panola
- Gene Parks
- There's a chance that the soldier you're playing doesn't even get a name. In that case, he is simply referred to as "A Unknown Soldier of The Great War".
- Parts of the combat from the opening appear to be directly inspired by a battle scene from the 2008 World War I film Passchendaele.
- Although it's not given a name, the battle seems to resemble the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which fits all of the criteria of the in-game battle. The Meuse-Argonne Offensive happened in late 1918, and included American and French troops, it also specifically included the 369th infantry regiment, or the Harlem Hellfighters.
- The prologue of Battlefield V includes a flashback to the standoff in the ending, as well as a statue that represents the two soldiers.