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Video Game / Brothers in Arms

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"Brothers in Arms is all about authentic squad-based fire and maneuver military tactics. To be victorious, you must use your squad to suppress and flank the enemy."
Col. John Antal, historical advisor for Brothers In Arms, Brothers In Arms: Road to Hill 30 and Earned in Blood tutorial video

A First-Person Shooter series set in World War II, developed by Gearbox Software, focusing on using squad-tactics and strategy as opposed to the run-and-gun gameplay style more common to First Person Shooters. The main series includes Road to Hill 30, Earned in Blood, and Hell's Highway. It has spinoffs for handheld consoles and mobile phones titled D-Day, DS, Art of War, N-Gage, Double Time, Hour of Heroes, and Global Front.

The first title in the series, Road to Hill 30, puts you in control of Sergeant Matt Baker, a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne of the US Army during the Normandy invasion. The game depicts the midnight jump before D-Day, the fighting on the way to the French city of Carentan, its capture from the Germans and the subsequent defense against the German counter-attack at Hill 30. Baker can tell his men where to take cover and who to fire at. The game uses a suppression mechanic that requires the player to use Baker and his squad to suppress and flank the enemy.

Earned In Blood puts you in control of "Red" Hartsock, a Corporal in Baker's squad. It shows some of the events in the first game from Red's perspective, leading to his promotion to Sergeant after the Battle of Bloody Gulch. After Red's promotion, his squad clears out the remnant of the German forces from Carentan and moves towards Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte to give the 82nd Airborne some maps of the German defenses surrounding the area and decides to stay and help take the castle.

The third game, Hell's Highway, puts the player back in control of Sergeant Matt Baker during the ill-fated Operation Market Garden. The events depicted include the failure of the 101st to take the bridge at Son before the Germans could blow it up, the liberation of Eindhoven, and the evacuation after the failure of Operation Market Garden. Among all this, the game also explores the gradual deterioration of Baker's mental stability and the onset of PTSD, as Baker struggles with balancing his responsibilities to his squad, with his attempts to be "friends" with them, along with making some horrifying revelations about events from the previous games, which could destroy the trust between him and his men.

The ending of the third game hinted at a sequel taking place during The Battle of the Bulge. However, poorer than predicted sales and a surprise hit for developer Gearbox with Borderlands have likely put the title at lower priority for development. At PAX 2011 Randy Pitchford, President of Gearbox, confirmed that a continuation of Baker's story is in the works. In 2021, Pitchford confirmed a new installment of the series is in the works, but had no further information.

Three mobile platform games were made by Gameloft: Hour of Heroes, Global Front and Sons of War. The latter two were widely hated for their microtransaction contents.

A novel was also written, titled Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway, which serves as an interquel to the titular game, taking place during the early stages of Market Garden; Baker and his squad are assigned to an emergency reconnaissance mission, crossing paths with new allies and enemies alike, from courageous Dutch Resistance fighters to elite and deadly German Fallschirmjäger paratroopers, and discovering a secret German operation that could threaten the entire Western Allied front, should it succeed.

Furious 4 was originally set to be a sequel/spin-off. According to Pitchford, the game was a radical departure from the realistic and somber tone of the series and could had been best be described as Inglourious Basterds meets Borderlands. However, the game was canceled in favor of the Hero-shooter Battleborn.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: One is featured in Hell's Highway, abandoned by the doctors and nurses there, and instead occupied by squads of German infantry. It's also where Frankie and his Dutch girlfriend are killed.
  • A Father to His Men: All of the Sergeants. It's telling when each and every subordinate squadmate will make it a point to help or voice concern them when they get injured or are in trouble each time, both in cutscenes and in gameplay.
    • By Hell's Highway, however, this trope is deconstructed, when Franky doesn't like receiving this kind of treatment from Baker, and ends up in a heavily implied case of Suicide by Cop. Hartsock himself calls Baker out on it.
    Hartsock:"Maybe, if you were in control of your men, instead of trying to be their best friend...They. Wouldn't. Need. Finding."
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Used to great effect in Hell's Highway when Baker tells Red he is paralyzed from the waist down and will never walk again.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Road to Hill 30 ends this way, with Baker, the newly-promoted Red, and the rest of the 3rd squad moving out to retake the rest of Carentan. Earned in Blood shows us what happens from Red's perspective.
  • Anti-Air: The Germans have two types: the 20mm Flakvierling and later, the 88mm Flak 36. Both are shown firing on Allied aircraft during different parts of each game. And sometimes they're to be destroyed as part of your objectives.
  • Anti-Armor: Different types of anti-tank weapons are shown, ranging from the handheld Panzerfaust, Panzerschreck, and Bazooka, to the much larger Pak 36 and 88mm guns.
  • Anti-Infantry: Machine guns, particularly the MG-42, which are capable of killing soldiers in one hit. The 88mm gun is also used in this role whenever there are no tanks around to back your squad up.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Die enough times at the same checkpoint, and you'll get the option to heal and replenish your ammunition before your next attempt. This is the only healing available during missions in the first two games. It's Lampshaded by the devs:
    Heal Screen: War isn't fair, but a video game should be. Would you like to heal your squad?
    • Earned in Blood also allows you to, provided you're using American weapons, receive ammo resupplies from your squadmates, a huge step-up from running out of ammo for your Garand or Thompson in Road to Hill 30 in a level where there's no supply crates.
    • Hell's Highway adds supply crates in pretty much every level. Justified, since these containers were dropped alongside the paratroopers.
      • Hell's Highway in general is chock full of these. Some of these include increased ammunition reserves for your weapons, a revamped cover system for the player, and a less frustrating, but still punishing, health system.
  • Anyone Can Die: Quite a few named characters with personalities don't survive the Normandy invasion or Operation Market Garden, sometimes completely by pure chance.
  • Arc Words: All three games have at least one of these in one form or another.
    • Road to Hill 30: "I never asked to be squad leader"
    • Earned in Blood: "...Earned in Blood..."
    • Hell's Highway: "What is it that makes a great soldier? Is it his brain...or his heart?"
  • Artificial Brilliance: In Earned in Blood, German infantrymen are generally far better shots with both small arms and Panzerfausts even when Pinned Down, and, when the situation presents itself, can and will use squad tactics themselves to flank and finish your own squad.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: Earned in Blood introduces the German Sdkfz 251 half-track, used by mechanized infantry as a mobile machine-gun platform, as well as to deploy troops quickly.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: Hell's Highway has "Baptism of Fire" and "Hell's Highway", where the surrounding city and countryside, respectively, are in flaming ruins due to German bombing, shelling, and fuel and ammunition from knocked out tanks and vehicles going off.
  • Battle in the Rain: "Alternate Route" in Road to Hill 30 and "Black Friday" in Hell's Highway has Baker and his squad fighting in rainy weather against Elite German troops and their armor.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Baker returning to the squad at the end of Road to Hill 30, as well as in Earned in Blood, having just found a pair of tanks to steamroll the previously overwhelming attackers.
  • Big Fancy House: The Chateau Colombieres in the level of the same name from Earned in Blood is a mansion being used by German officers as a command least until it was repeatedly bombed and shelled by Allied air, artillery, and naval strikes. Hartsock, Desola, Allen, and Garnett are tasked with clearing the area in and around the chateau so that the 101st Airborne can use the place as an aid station for wounded men.
  • Bittersweet Ending: How all three games end, more or less.
    • Road to Hill 30 ends with about half of Baker's squad, as well as his best friend Sgt. Risner dead, but he and the surviving members of his squad manage to take and later successfully hold Carentan.
    • Earned in Blood ends with Doyle and Paige dead, but Red and his squad manage to capture St. Sauveur long enough to signal in reinforcements, and manage to accomplish their objectives.
    • Hell's Highway ends with Baker's squad accomplishing all their objectives and managing to hold their positions from further German assault, but Frankie and most of Second Squad are killed, and Red is left paralyzed. And Corrion takes a level in jerkass and refuses to associate with Baker any further. Worse, Operation Market-Garden fails.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Hell's Highway, thanks to being on a newer graphics engine. Headshots are now depicted realistically, and enemy limbs are now blown off when hit by either high-powered firearms or explosives.
  • Break Meter: Shoot at or near an enemy repeatedly, and they'll be Pinned Down and won't be able to attack as effectively.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": In the third game, instead of "health," hit points are represented by "luck"; when taking enemy fire, a red tint will fill the edges of the screen, representing bullets flying close to the player as they're being shot at. If you don't get out of the fire soon enough, a bullet will hit you for an instant game over... Taking cover allows your "luck" to recover so you can get back in the fight, oddly this isn't regenerating health, as Baker's "luck" will drain from being exposed at all, not actually being shot at. (Such as if exposed to an enemy with a bolt action rifle, Baker's "luck" will keep draining even when the enemy is cycling the bolt.)
  • Camera Perspective Switch: In Hell's Highway, taking cover switches the view to a Third-Person Shooter, as do the tank driving sections. The former leads to Fake Difficulty on Authentic difficulty where you have no crosshair, which wouldn't be so bad except that taking cover takes away your ability to use iron sights, turning every firefight into spray and pray.
  • The Cavalry: Often takes the form of tanks, such as during the Battle of Bloody Gulch, where the 2nd Armored Division plows through the German forces attacking the 101st.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The Road to Hill 30 version of Authentic difficutly boosts enemy damage and accuracy to absurd levels, notably certain levels such as Cole's Charge become outright luck-based, as the smoke that's supposed to stop the enemy shooting you as you charge doesn't work as well on Authentic, mean it's possible for the player or a squadmate to die before you have a chance to reach cover.
  • Child Soldiers: Baker's squad suspects that Franky lied about his age to join the Army.
  • Chromosome Casting: Justified Trope, on account that the story of all three games is about American Paratroopers in Europe during World War II.
  • Concept Art Gallery:
    • The Road to Hill 30 has a rather thick one, which also includes reproductions of historical documents related to war.
    • Earned in Blood is no slouch either, which includes topics on the weapons and vehicles appearing in-game.
    • Hell's Highway adds "Recon Points", which are basically this trope built into the level itself.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Baker, way too much. Even lampshaded by several squad members in Earned in Blood, while under fire.
    Back in England, we'd be playing baseball or something, but not Baker! He'd always be off staring at the sky or some shit!
  • Darker and Edgier: Hell's Highway. While Road to Hill 30 and Earned in Blood weren't exactly the brightest games either, this game manages to show the horrors of war in even greater detail. Examples include: Dutch civilians being killed in the crossfire or being executed by German soldiers for being suspected of collaborating with the Allies, and depicting PTSD in a very horrifying manner.
  • Dead Person Conversation: In Hell's Highway, Baker occasionally converses with a hallucination/ghost of Leggett. It may be a ghost because Leggett hints at the location of the next battle, something a hallucination is unlikely to do.
  • Death from Above: The Paratroopers' purpose. In addition aircraft from both sides are shown attacking each other's respective ground forces during certain parts of the story.
  • Deconstruction: Hell's Highway is this for the A Father to His Men trope. Baker's efforts to be a friend and mentor to his squad rather than instilling discipline in them as a leader causes one of his men to go AWOL during a battle to search for a local girl he fell in love with, which ends up getting both him and the girl killed, and causes his squadmates' trust in him to begin eroding. It gets even worse when it turns out that he hid the circumstances of Allen and Garnet's deaths to protect Leggett, who himself goaded a German tank into killing him due to Survivor's Guilt and the pressure of keeping the secret from the rest of the squad.
  • Destroy the Product Placement: Two separate instances in Hell's Highway. Both cases are justified due to being actual locations destroyed during the fighting that took place there during the actual battle.
    • The first is when fighting breaks out in the Philips headquarters in Eindhoven during "Operation Garden". Specifically, the iconic Philips logo on the roof of the building is damaged by gunfire, with Baker also providing sniper support just behind the sign.
    • The second takes place around a Shell gas station. Should the gas pumps be hit by a stray bullet, the "S" on the roof of the gas station falls off, leaving behind "hell", appropriately enough.
  • Elite Mooks: Two of them; the Fallschirmjager and the Waffen-SS. The former are essentially German Paratroopers who, like their American counterparts, are all volunteers. The latter are mechanized infantry armed with the latest and most advanced weapons Nazi Germany has to offer, often supported by Panzers or Tank Destroyers. Both of them are notorious for packing more deadly automatic weapons than regular German infantry units.
  • The Enemy Weapons Are Better: Played straight in Road to Hill 30, where, due to a shortage of resupply crates, your weapons can easily run out of ammunition, and you'll eventually be forced to switch out for a Kar 98 or MP-40 at some point. Also applies to some of the weapons themselves, as the MP-40 and STG-44 have higher capacity than their American counterparts, the Kar 98 in particular is the only high-accuracy weapon that isn't a sniper rifle and is even a consistent one-shot kill in Hell's Highway, while other weapons in the first two games are very hard to hit long distance targets with.
  • Epic Tank-on-Tank Action: Happens frequently throughout all three games, but the most notable example would be the Shermans of the 2nd Armored Division taking on Panzers of the 17th SS late in "No Better Spot to Die".
  • Excuse Plot: The Gameloft spinoffs, especially Global Front. Unlike the main series games, which rely heavily on story, they forego any storytelling whatsoever, and what's left of any semblance of a plot is put aside in favor of casual gameplay.
  • Fackler Scale of FPS Realism: This series falls toward the realism end of the scale with authentic weaponry and squad tactics. Levels are based on actual locations in Normandy and Holland and after-action reports from battles.
  • Fingore: Red gets part of his ring finger blown off in Baupte. He keeps fighting anyway.
    Red: The only married man in the entire squad gets his ringfinger blown off.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Hell's Highway. If you've read the history of Operation Market-Garden, you know that the Airborne soldiers will fail the operation, and suffer heavy casualties in the process.
  • Fragile Speedster: The M5 Stuart light tank. While it is much faster than contemporary German tanks like the Stug it comes up against, it also comes at the price of having far less armor. This is demonstrated tragically when Sgt. Risner's own M5 is destroyed in one hit by a Panzerfaust-wielding soldier, presumably killing the rest of his crew in the process.
  • Game-Breaker: While the series tries to nerf the player's aim, a patient player with a rifle can still pick off enemies when they lean up from cover, even in the first two games, the maps clearly aren't designed around this for the most part and MG 42 gunners outright have some sort of damage immunity to bullets until you flank them to counter this.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • Minor example but the Pew Pew/Saw Gun Easter egg in Hell's Highway will actually crash the game at least most of the time on 360 for some reason, rendering the Easter egg unobtainable to 360 players.
    • A more serious example can happen in the titular level of Hell's Highway, where it's possibly both of the teams in your squad not to lay down suppressing fire at all. Fortunately, this bug can be resolved by simply restarting the game.
  • Gallows Humor:
    Garnett: What do you think killed him?
    Allen: I don't know, but it wasn't old age.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In Road to Hill 30 and Earned in Blood, poor tactical decisions can get your squad mates killed, but they always reappear in the next mission, unless they get Killed Off for Real. Subverted in Hell's Highway, which introduces mid-level cutscenes to the series: if a squad mate is lost, instead of being killed he is merely wounded and can be seen writhing on the ground, and are then conveniently healed for the next cutscene.
    • Despite being trained soldiers, Baker in Hill 30 and Hartsock in Earned in Blood can't hit the broad side of a barn without mods, this is to encourage the player to use the squad mechanics, this also means Hartsock/Baker are better shots when not controlled by the player in the other game.
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns:
    • Played straight with the main titles, where the Allies will use Allied weapons like the Garand, Carbine, and Thompson, while the Germans use German weapons like the Kar 98, MP 40, MG 42, and STG 44.
    • Somewhat averted in Global Front, where German/Japanese troops will occasionally be encountered using captured Allied Weapons.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic:
    • Dawson doesn't wear a helmet since it interferes with his aim, apparently. Averted by everybody else, given the setting, unless they get shot off in combat without somehow also killing them.
    • In Road to Hill 30, Red throws his helmet in the river after Desola is killed. In Earned in Blood, he mentions to Colonel Marshall he swam back into the river and recovered it, because he felt it his responsibility to his wife and young child to try and stay alive.
    • In the third game at least, Baker starts most missions with his helmet on. It CAN be shot off, the remainder of the mission is then fought without the helmet.
  • Heroic BSoD: Private First Class Kevin Leggett. Having gotten two of the most popular squad members killed earlier in the game, he becomes notably traumatized. At the end, frustratedly getting no response on the radio for support in the Battle of Bloody Gulch with tanks oncoming without any anti-tank weaponry among the squad themselves, he pulls out a pistol, jumps on top of their trench, and shoots at the enemy tanks screaming for them to shoot him. He gets his wish.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • Sergeant Hassey and Leggett in Road to Hill 30. They're usually not with you, but they certainly aren't sitting around until next you meet.
    • In Earned in Blood, which is from Red's POV, Baker and his squad. Also, Doyle, an 82nd Airborne trooper who Red meets on D-Day and keeps running into him afterwards. Also, the entire 82nd Airborne.
    • Red and his 2nd Squad in Hell's Highway.
  • Historical Domain Character: Lt Col. Cole in all three games, Lt Col. Cassidy and Col. Johnson in Earned in Blood and Lt. Col Sink in Hell's Highway. The well-known World War II historian Col. S.L.A Marshall interviews Red about the events in Earned in Blood. Dwight D. Eisenhower, World War II hero and future president, appears in a (deleted) cutscene, as well as in the background of the main menu of Earned in Blood in a recreation of the famous photograph of him giving the orders of the day to members of the 502nd PIR.
  • How We Got Here:
    • In Road to Hill 30, the first level starts at the battle at the eponymous Hill 30 and we witness the death of Leggett whom we haven't got to know yet. After the player character is knocked out by a tank, the story flashes back to the jump over Normandy.
    • Earned in Blood opens with Red telling his story thus far to an army recorder. As they mention certain conflicts, the camera fades into that situation as the gameplay begins.
    • The third game, Hell's Highway, starts at about the midpoint story-wise and flashes back to the glider landings at the beginning of Operation Market Garden.
  • Hypothetical Fight Debate: Allen, Garnett and Leggett have a Superman vs. Batman argument.
  • It's Raining Men: Naturally, considering these games focus on the 101st Airborne division, as well as the 82nd Airborne Division in Earned in Blood. Exaggerated in Hell's Highway, which is about the largest airborne operation during World War II, Operation Market Garden.
  • It's Up to You: While you'll usually have an Assault squad to risk flanking the Germans, there's plenty of times the terrain won't fit the squad to let them be in cover effectively while flanking the enemy, which guessed it, you're gonna have to put the rounds into Jerry there.
    • If you don't have a tank in Road to Hill 30, that means you personally are going to have to handle enemy tanks...and it kind of might be easier for you to anyway.
  • Insert Grenade Here: In Road to Hill 30 and Earned in Blood, you can destroy tanks by throwing a grenade down the hatch though you'll need to damage the hatch by hitting the tank with a Panzerfaust shot already in Earned in Blood to be able to open it.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Doyle is blown up by a Panzer shell in Earned in Blood, leaving only a shitload of blood smeared on the ground and an 82nd Airborne patch.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence:
    Garnett: Guys, get the fu-
  • Limited Loadout: The first two games use the standard console two-weapon limit, Hell's Highway gives you 3 slots similar to the original Call of Duty, with two slots for any regular weapon and Baker's 1911 being your third weapon.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Any chapter with Artillery in the first two games is this, Artillery is random and impossible to dodge, so you just have to hope you and your squad don't get blown up, this combined with Authentic Difficulty's no checkpoints is even worse.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In Hell's Highway, Baker is haunted by hallucinations of Leggett, that interact with him in the final levels. Their final conversation suggests that Leggett may be a ghost, as he hints towards the location of the next battle. It's left ambiguous.
  • Mighty Glacier: German tanks and tank destroyers in comparison to their American counterparts. They have heavier frontal armor and harder-hitting main guns, but this comes at the cost of them being less maneuverable and slower.
  • Mind Screw: Baker starts seeing hallucinations in Hell's Highway. They're rare, but just often enough to make the player doubt what they may be seeing in solo sections.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: Earned In Blood. Pretty much the same graphics and gameplay as the first game but played from Red's perspective with new levels and enhanced AI. Fans of the original enjoyed the difficulty spike however.
  • Mood Whiplash: Surprisingly common.
    Friar: Paddock, you are not shooting the jeep!
    Jasper: Looks like Dawson had to piss... on a... British guy? note 
    • In the first game, Leggett, Allen and Garnett are discussing which superhero is cooler, Batman or Superman, when mortars start going off around you. They are having a similar conversation at the beginning of The Reveal scene in Hell's Highway showing how Allen and Garnett died.
  • Nerf:
    • Panzer IV tanks in Hell's Highway no longer fire their co-axial machine guns at you and your squad, and can now be suppressed by small arms fire.
    • Panzergrenadiers in Hell's Highway now carry fewer STG 44 assault rifles, and are somewhat less accurate when shooting at the player and squadmates.
    • Inverted with the 88mm guns in Hell's Highway, where they can now only be destroyed by either firing rocket launchers at their sides and rear, or by planting a satchel charge on them. The gun's shield now protects against anti-tank rockets from your bazooka team. This is in contrast to their previous appearances, where a single anti-tank rocket could destroy them regardless of angle.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • Earned in Blood can be this at points, especially whenever the game pits you against multiple tanks at once with little to no cover.
    • Road to Hill 30 itself, especially a lot of the later levels, as well.
    • While Hell's Highway downplays the difficulty somewhat, it still has portions that can be really punishing towards the player.
    • Authentic Difficulty in the first two games, no checkpoints and enemy accuracy is boosted to cheating levels, the game gets alot harder and a little bit of luck is required to win at all, ironically while Earned in Blood is normally harder than ''Road to Hill 30', it's version of Authentic difficulty is actually easier as enemy damage and accuracy isn't massively boosted.
  • Not Enough to Bury: In Earned in Blood, Doyle when he gets shot by a German tank. The only remains Hartsock finds of him is his 82nd Airborne patch, which he is seen wearing in Hell's Highway.
  • One-Hit Kill: Quite a few examples.
    • Sniper rifles in all three games will kill enemies in one hit regardless of where they're hit.
    • Headshots can now one-hit kill enemies in Hell's Highway, provided the enemy soldiers' helmets don't deflect the bullet beforehand.
  • Pinned Down: One of the cornerstones of gameplay to suppress enemies with sustained gunfire, then flank them. Suppressing them reduces both their accuracy and rate of fire. Not doing so often leads to someone getting shot if they're out of cover.
  • Plot Armor: The members of your squad can die in missions, but they will magically come back to life (with no injuries) at the end of the level. They can only be permanently killed in scripted storyline events.
  • Plunger Detonator: One is used to destroy a bridge in the mission "Alternate Route" in Hill 30, in order to prevent German tanks from using it.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Averted in Hell's Highway. Enemies shot in the head regardless of caliber will have their skulls caved in, and it's in no way pretty.
  • Promoted to Playable: In Earned in Blood, you play as Hartsock, who was an NPC in the first game.
  • Purposely Overpowered: The sniper rifles in all three games. They always kill in one shot, barely have any aim sway unlike every other weapon in the game meaning you don't really have to flank to expect to hit the enemy unlike usual and in the handful times you are given one or find one, you are going to need it with all the Germans that will be swarming you.
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: Unlike other World War II FPS games, this series has no background music whatsoever during the levels themselves. Instead, all the listed soundtracks for all three games are only played during cutscenes and main menu portions.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: In the level Objective XYZ, you're tasked with clearing a small french village of German troops with one soldier as backup. This is based on an actual event.
  • Regenerating Health: Third game only, accomplished by representing health as luck — if too many shots are fired at you in quick succession, one will eventually hit you for an instant kill.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Second Squad from Earned in Blood simply didn't exist in Hill 30, but missions feature them around with First Squad during the events of Hill 30 as well as them being present explicitly in the battle for Hill 30, where they didn't exist in Road to Hill 30.
  • The Reveal:
    • Turns out that the reason why Baker has been hallucinating/haunted by Legget is because he ordered Leggett to tell no one how Allen and Garnett died, and the stress of keeping the secret, coupled with a critical injury on the battlefield, led Leggett to effectively commit suicide by shooting at an enemy tank with a pistol.
    • It is revealed in the same scene that Leggett was partly responsible for Allen's and Garnett's deaths, because he started a fight with Allen that attracted a German patrol, which is why Baker wanted Leggett to keep the circumstances of the death's a secret in the first place, for fear that the rest of the squad would kill Leggett.
  • Satchel Charge: Baker and Hartsock use Satchel Charges to destroy German artillery gun emplacements such as Pak 36 Anti-tank guns, 88mm guns, and the occasional 20mm flakvierling. In Hell's Highway, Satchel Charges can now be used to destroy German panzers as well.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Gearbox hired a US Army LT. Col. and military historian to teach them real-world tactics and to help write the story with authenticity. They also fired every weapon that is in the game to accurately model them. Gearbox also took a massive road trip to France to photograph the locations of battles. Using these photos as well as old maps and photos from the war they designed the levels.
    • Also applies on a literal level: content unlocked by winning missions on various difficulties includes the aforementioned photos of the real locations the mission maps are based on, information about the equipment used by soldiers on both sides of the war, and biographical data on the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions.
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few to other works set in Normandy around the time of the D-Day invasion.
    • In "No Better Spot to Die" and "Bloody Gulch", one will notice that, after Baker wakes up and/or Red manages to return back to their own lines just after most of Mac's men are killed, there's a knocked out Panzer IV stuck near part of the hill the paratroopers are defending from, an obvious nod to a similar scene in the same battle from Band of Brothers, with the only difference being that in that series it was instead a Stug Assault gun.
    • The German counterattack in "Tom and Jerry" heavily resembles the similar German attack from the Final Battle in Saving Private Ryan, with SS soldiers attacking through an urban area supported by tanks, and Baker providing sniper support from a church tower with a Springfield not unlike Pvt. Jackson, concluding with him grabbing a Bazooka and knocking out German tanks similar to how Sgt. Horvath did, only this time Baker is far more successful.
  • Silence of Sadness: While McConnell is normally The Quiet One in Red's squad, he's still pretty chatty whenever he's with his friend Paige. When Paige is killed during the assault on St. Sauveur, he stops speaking entirely. This continues on into the next game, where he never talks to anyone else in his squad, and only Baker acknowledges his presence.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Downplayed. The only times German troops will suicidally charge at your position is when they're cornered and/or you and your squadmates are out in the open.
  • Sniping Mission: Several of the levels in all 3 games.
    • Road to Hill 30 has "Purple Heart Lane" and "Tom and Jerry", where Baker is provided a Springfield sniper rifle to support the rest of his squad as well as take out enemy snipers.
    • Earned in Blood has "Hell's Corners", where Red is provided a Kar 98 sniper rifle to pick off German snipers across a dam, as well as across a field.
    • Hell's Highway has the third portion of "Operation Garden", where Baker has to snipe SS soldiers with a captured Gewehr 43 sniper rifle in order to help Peter.
  • Story to Gameplay Ratio: Closer to the story end on the scale than most other WWII shooters.
  • Take Cover!: The other cornerstone of gameplay is taking cover to avoid getting shot. Anyone in cover is much harder to hit (especially in the first two games), unless they're flanked.
  • Tank Goodness: Several tanks from both sides appear in the game, and are usually part of your squad in certain missions, starting with the M5 Stuart and later the M4 Sherman for the Americans, the Stug III A/F and Panzer IV F1 for the Germans. Earned in Blood adds the long-barreled Panzer IV G which replaces the F1 in the single-player campaign, as well as adding the M10 Wolverine Tank Destroyer for the Americans. Hell's Highway brings in the Sherman Firefly, a british variant of the Sherman designed specifically for tank-killing, and the Panzer IV H/J for the Germans.
  • There Are No Therapists: A Justified Trope in Hell's Highway - you're a paratrooper who's deep in enemy territory. Plus, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder was not understood in modern contexts until after the Vietnam War. You're in World War II here.
  • Those Two Guys: Allen and Garnett. They even die together. Lampshaded in a Road to Hill 30 cutscene:
    Baker: Eventually we started saying Allen'n'Garnett like it was one name.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Red carries Doyle's 82nd Airborne patch on his helmet.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The end of Road to Hill 30's final mission, "No Better Spot To Die" largely abandons the suppressing-and-flanking mechanics you use for the rest of the game, because you have to reach the allied tanks alone and there are three enemy tanks between you and them (and you have absolutely no anti-tank weaponry or grenades). If you waste time trying to suppress the Germans on foot in your way, an enemy tank is going to drive up to you.
    • In Hell's Highway, you occasionally take control of a British tank commander in a Sherman Firefly.
  • Unique Enemy:
    • "Action at Vierville" is the only time in the game where the Sturmgeschutz III Ausf. A, the short-barreled variant of the Assault Gun, appears. Every subsequently encountered StuG is the Ausf. F variant with the long-barreled gun.
    • Only one Sturmgeschutz III Assault Gun is fought in Earned in Blood, during the "Chateau Colombieres" level. Every other German tank encountered is a Panzer IV.
    • In Hell's Highway only two Heer Infanterie soldiers are seen wielding the STG 44 assault rifle, with every other Heer Infanterie soldier wielding either a Kar 98 rifle or MP 40 submachine gun.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Of a sort as while the game isn't sadistic as long as you aren't on Authentic Difficulty, continuing a mission with one squad taken out is very difficult, late-game missions especially can easily be rendered practically unwinnable by losing your entire team since Baker/Hartsock aren't very capable of taking on entire groups of enemies by themselves while generally losing your entire squad is only salvagable if you're very close to the end of a mission and only have to deal with a handful of enemy troops.
  • Urban Warfare: Constantly.
    • Road to Hill 30 has a few "smaller" villages, hamlets, towns, and finally, the city of Carentan. The latter is ridiculously hard because of the tight corners, tanks and the assault-rifle-carrying Germans.
    • Saint-Sauveur in Earned in Blood takes this up to eleven. Apart from narrow corridors, machine gun nests, assault-rifle armed stormtroopers and a ridiculous amount of tanks, what could make it harder? Why, 88s of course.
    • Hell's Highway has damn near every level centered around urban warfare.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Allen and Garnett from Road to Hill 30. They're always seen together but bicker with each other quite a bit.
  • War Is Hell: One of the few war games to actually depict PTSD, and in a distressing way.
  • You All Look Familiar:
    • Let's face it, it's not exactly easy to tell a lot of these characters apart at a glance, due to the identical uniforms. Their faces aren't identical, but first-timers may still be grasping to try to remember who's who.
    • The third game does a little better by fleshing the individual characters out and making them more unique, but it's still sometimes difficult to figure out who from who.


The Right Man

In this cutscene from Brothers in Arms Hell's Highway, Cpl. Corrion is passed over for promotion a fourth time, with Baker promptly answering exactly why he isn't ready to lead a squad of men.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / YouAreNotReady

Media sources: