It is inarguable that France was an important part of World War I. As one of the Allied powers, they fielded one of the biggest armies and suffered a proportionally large amount of casualties. France is dotted with important WWI battlefields. The Harlem Hellfighters, the cover subject of Battlefield 1, was attached to the French army because the United States would not let them fight. Despite the massive contribution of the French to the war, you will not be playing as the French forces in Battlefield 1 multiplayer unless you pay extra. Speaking to IGN France DICE’s Julien Wera confirmed that the French forces will be reserved for post-launch premium DLC.
“To really do justice to the French army in multiplayer and, once again, to show a side that we’re not used to seeing, we have chosen to dedicate an entire premium expansion with special treatment after the launch of the game.”
Russia will also not be available in multiplayer, but considering the game’s focus on the Western Front, that decision seems less predatory.