Battallion 1944 is like stepping into a time machine… and going way back to May, 2017, when I reviewed Day of Infamy, except that it’s without as many different equipment options, isn’t about large scale battles, and feels more like your classic multiplayer shooter from the mid-2000s. Heck, I bet it’s gonna be SUPER popular, but I think it’s a bit formulaic.
I must remind you at this point, I’m not a huge World at War fan, or even much into the FPS genre, with a few notable exceptions, I’m not the perfect candidate for this game. I must also let you know I’m just playing an early access version of the game, and perhaps it’s unfair for me to look at it this early and explain why I think it’s “Just another WW2 shooter” instead of something worthwhile, but, that’s the very nature of a preview, I think. So, that’s what we’re going to do.
The competitive mode is your standard 5v5 scenario, with a few different pieces of equipment to choose from. You have a limited number of sniper rifles, or even standard rifles, and you collect cards to allow your teammates to continue to use weapons in subsequent rounds, or you get left with a default gun and a few grenades. These cards come from the bodies of your comrades or enemies, and are the type of equipment the character who died were using. This means that if your team loses 4-5 in a row, you’ll be out of Thompsons, and your team’s stuck with those rifles with the world’s most recognizable reload sound for a few rounds, until you run out of cards for those, and you’re stuck with something even less useful, throwing you into a world where a bad situation gets worse, something I refer to as “the snowball.” MOBAs suffer from this immensely, but, other competitive shooters like Counter-Strike have something that allows you to turn the tide, throwing you SOME money between rounds even if you lose, so, while you might not be as well equipped as your opposition if you’re losing round-after-round, you still have the opportunity to save up a bit and come back with a weapon you’re decent with. Other than that, it’s “Plant the bomb” or “Stop the enemies from planting the bomb” and now you’re basically playing Counter-Strike in WW2.
The game also has a casual mode, but that means that everything’s unlimited so you can just play with whatever gun you want and you respawn as soon as you die, so, might as well be playing Call of Duty without perks, killstreaks, a sizable equipment customization screen, or, at least during the press test, screeching 12 year olds. This mode doesn’t have a bomb to drop, or automatically swap you to the other side after a certain number of rounds, but, it’s casual mode, useful for getting the map memorized or just shooting at people.
Did I mention nostalgia? Oh, yeah, if you’re SUPER into playing World War 2, I suppose there’s that. Huge points on this game for the nostalgia factor of playing a World War 2 game if that’s something that makes you nostalgic. Otherwise, there are plenty of things you might rather be doing, like… shooting at dudes with funny hats.
The one thing I totally love about FPS games set in WW2 is finding out if the guns are well designed. The bolt-action 98K is still a 1 hit kill weapon of doom in comparison to the M1 Garand’s semi-automatic but impossible to reload 2 hit kill across most of the body, while the game’s scoped rifles seem set up to match each other perfectly. There’s less emphasis on the weapons being true to origin than I’d hope for, more than likely to keep balance for competitive game play. One of my chief complaints about this game is how tight the levels feel, which, while feeling accurate in the sense that the maps are seemingly pretty realistic, makes the sniper rifles almost useless. Not many places to scope down a nice street and wait for the enemy force to move on you. Maybe in the full game they’ll have larger maps as well as close quarters maps. That being said, the trench gun? (Or, shotgun, for the uninitiated,) absolute dogshit, and I like the pump in CS:GO, so, I’m not opposed to shotguns.
If you’re looking for another WW2 world to play with your friends in, this might be what you’re looking for, because it’s soon to be released and has pretty decent netcode, from my small bit of time running around being terrible at it. This game’s like a super hot girl who is a total idiot. It’s SUPER pretty. I mean, it’s probably the prettiest WW2 themed FPS I’ve ever seen, but, it’s got no vehicles, no artillery, and nothing that really makes me go, “Yeah, this is fun AND a breakthrough in the world of FPS games.” In short, it’s a video game that does video game things, even does most of them well, it… just doesn’t seem to do anything to push the genre, the envelope, or even my buttons. It just seems… bland. It’s Counter-Strike with a new coat of paint and an objectively worse weapon purchase system in competitive mode, and enemies can hear you from miles away. (At least, in beta.)
It’s worth a looksie, but, if you’re just grabbing it because you’re looking for the next BIG THING in FPS games? It’s not here. This is another… game, in a world where we’re still replacing games more often than we really need to. CS:GO’s detonation maps are still great, and there’s a much wider weapon variety, and you probably already own that. Nothing wrong without grabbing the latest FPS game on the market. But, if you do, and meet your friends on the fields of France, just remember that in one guy’s first opinion, from a build that isn’t even final, It’s not a bad game, but, it’s… nothing new.
Disclosure: We got into a Press/Influencer Beta, a day before the open Beta.
Developed by: Bulkhead Interactive
Published by: Square Enix