As soon as we locked the World War I setting for Battlefield 1, we knew that we had to have horses in the game. Not only did horses play an important role on many fronts in the war, they are one of the many elements that made the era truly unique. World War I saw the old world violently clash with the new. What better way to show that off than pitting tanks and airplanes against fierce horses?
Horses are unique in Battlefield 1. While they might not be as sturdy as tanks, they’re still effective in close-quarters combat. Their speed and agility means they can trample enemies under their powerful hooves, and they’ll get you close enough to slash them down with a saber. If you prefer to stay back a bit, you’ll have access to powerful rifles for medium range combat that can be fired from horseback.
Horses are even effective in anti-vehicle assaults using grenades – you can run circles around the slower mechanized vehicles and harass them with explosives. Horses also have a secondary use as a mobile supply station of sorts, so in addition to these offensive capabilities, players can drop ammo and bandages from the saddlebags to assist team members and help them stay in the fight.
Since you’ll be a bigger target on a horse, getting too close can be dangerous (while horses have quite a lot of health – a lot more than the rider – they’re still vulnerable) but if you stay on the move and use speed to your advantage, they can be seriously effective.
Spawn onto a horse from the Loadout screen or jump onto any you come across you’ll and you’ll have access to a suite of weapons and gadgets to take advantage of the mount. But just like the other vehicles in the game, you’re able to jump off the horse if you’d rather do battle on-foot (though someone could sneak over and steal it). Just because they share similarities with many of the vehicles in the game doesn’t mean they feel like a vehicle. The team spent a lot of time making sure the horses feel less like motorcycles and more like… well… horses.
One fun challenge with creating and implementing the horse into Battlefield 1 is that you expect something different from a horse than a vehicle. Throttle up in a car in front of a cliff’s edge and you’re going to go right over, but head towards the same cliff on a horse, and you expect the horse to get scared and refuse to go further. It may be brave and loyal, but it will not lightly jump towards its own death.
A lot of the efforts from a code, animation, audio, art, and design standpoint has been to pinpoint the instances where you’d expect the horse to react on its own. We wanted to make sure that your horse has a sense of realism when approaching dangers in Battlefield 1. It can go into shallow water, but will not swim out to sea. If you gallop towards an obstacle, it will try to avoid or jump over it. The horse will have a lot of character and respond to what’s happening in the world. We hope it will feel like it’s communicating with you when you ride it into battle.
Hopefully you have time to try the horse and the all-new Cavalry class when you check out the Battlefield 1 Open Beta. We can’t wait for you to try full mounted charges when Battlefield 1 releases on October 21 (or October 18 if you pre-order the Early Enlister Edition*).