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4 famous games that completely butchered history

History-inspired games have been around for a while and I’m pretty sure every gamer has come across one or two in their lifetime. And while they can be incredibly fun to play, their historical accuracy is often pretty shaky. Don’t get me wrong, in recent years developers have started to work harder to get facts right, but we’re still far from reality. Today we will explore 4 big games that butchered the chapters of history they are based on.

Total War: Rome II

If you read my list of upcoming games for August, you’ve probably realized that I’m a huge Total War fan. And although I love that game franchise, I can’t help but notice they often get historical facts wrong. I love everything about the history of the Roman Empire, so I can’t help but notice the mistakes made in Total War: Rome II.

What exactly is wrong about this game? Well, first of all, the game’s depiction of the Egyptian armies is incredibly inaccurate and out of date. The game takes place in 273 B.C., a time where Egypt had been conquered by the Macedonians and was then known as the Ptolemaic Empire, but the game makes no mention of it.

Rather than have the Egyptian army equipped in Macedonian gear and using up to date military units, they chose to make Egyptians look, well… Egyptian. Chariots, Desert Cavalry, it’s like the entire faction was plucked from a century back and placed randomly into Total War: Rome II. As a history enthusiast, these mistakes got under my skin.

Then again, the game is so interesting that I ended up playing it anyway. It got even more interesting when I added a realism mod developed by someone with an actual background in history.

4 famous games that butchered history

Shadow of Rome

Yes, yes, another Roman game. I mean, there are tons of those, so it’s kind of hard not to mention them.

So, where to begin? Well, I suppose you could say that Shadow of Rome is so inaccurate that even people with little historical knowledge could figure out that something was wrong. This game has some shocking depictions of how Roman gladiators fought and planned battlefield tactics. But I’m not even getting into that. I just want to focus on the game’s biggest mistake: the murder of Julius Caesar.

The game starts with the murder, and then revolves around a man trying to clear his father’s name, who had been wrongfully accused of killing the Roman dictator. In real life, the assassination of Julius Caesar was no mystery. I mean, it took place in broad daylight, in a very public place. The killers made no effort to hide their identities, as they fully meant to own their actions as tyrant slayers. That said, the entire game is wrong.

4 famous games that butchered history

Battlefield 1

Battlefield 1 is an incredible first-person shooter focused on the First World War. I can tell the developers put a lot of effort into making the game as realistic as possible, and for the most part, they achieved that quite nicely. But despite their efforts, some mistakes were made.

For starters, some of the weapons in the game are ahead of their time. The MP18 Bergmann did not have a bayonet lug at the time, as it was a feature of the weapon added only after the war. They got the design right, so it’s not all bad.

Other than that, there is one other obvious problem: the game’s weapons work perfectly when, in reality, firearms of that era were known to jam quite often.

As for costumes, I’d say they’re pretty well designed, but I have heard some players complaining that, although the German outfits were spot on, their cuffs were not. Plus, they wore gloves in the game, and in real life, gloves were worn by grenadiers and soldiers who handled barbed wire.

Last but not least: healing. In Battlefield 1, it’s quite common to see the player shoot people and then take out syringes and heal people. At the time, infantry roles were separate: if you carried a rifle, you didn’t also carry medical equipment. Soldiers had to rely on dedicated medics, who were often not far behind.

4 famous games that butchered history

Assassin’s Creed

The Assassin’s Creed franchise is one of my all-time favorites, but much like other games, it does have a more than a few historical inaccuracies.

Ubisoft got their historical references right for the most part, so kudos to them for that. But this article is about things that have gone wrong, so I can’t help but point out something very wrong about the game: Ubisoft’s glamorous depiction of the Assassins.

All of the games in this franchise portray Assassins as altruistic heroes, but the real story isn’t quite so charming. The Assassins – or Nizari Ismaili – were a group of individuals who targeted Muslim and later on Christian leaders, who they deemed enemies of the state.

They had armies in their control, but they were most famous for training fedayeen, young men trained to disguise themselves and trick people, so they’d get close to the target. Once that was achieved, they’d strike a dagger in their prey. However, instead of doing it in a stealthy way like in the Assassin’s Creed games, they did it in the most public of places and then made no efforts to escape, as they had been promised a place in paradise and no longer feared retribution in life.

So, no fancy robes, no hidden weapons, and most certainly no jumping from rooftop to rooftop. Then again, I get why they’d change it in the games, I mean, killing off characters after each successful murder doesn’t make up for a fun game.

4 famous games that butchered history

There are dozens of other games that butchered moments in history, but those are ones that stand out to me most.

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Bárbara Santos

Writer by day and gamer by night. I put all my thoughts and feelings in writing about things I like, A.K.A. Gaming!

2 Comments

  1. You’re playing a history-INSPIRED game. Why would a game inspired by history have the obligation to be historically accurate? Who would want to actually play a WW1 game based in reality? Your character would probably get trench foot and die from the flu before he could even stick his head out of a trench and get killed before firing a single round. Games are games, let them be games. Historical games should inspire you go to go out and actually read up on the event from a credible source. It’s not the game’s job to teach you nor does it have the obligation to. The only thing a video game’s goal is, is to entertain you.

    1. Hey there psyduck (cool name btw)!

      You are absolutely right, the developers have no obligation to be historically accurate! The gaming world is a creative one and I love their effort in trying to expand players’ imagination.

      This article is simply for those who are interested in seeing how their favorite games differ from reality and, as a history fan, I decided to share my knowledge on the matter. 😉

      See you later, and thanks for your feedback!

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