My Thoughts on Days of War

By Melvyn Tan on Feb 4, 2017

Deployed machine guns have almost non-existent recoil.
Deployed machine guns have almost non-existent recoil.

World War 2 FPS Days of War entered Early Access on January 26. I bought it a few minutes after it released, after seeing a couple of positive reviews, and refunded it after 40 minutes of playing. About a couple of days later I bought it again, encouraged by the removal of one of its maps (and framerate improvements).

If it sounds like Days of War and I have a slightly complicated relationship, well, things are pretty straightforward now. I don’t love it, but I find it to be a decent and fairly compelling time-waster if I’m looking for some quick FPS action. It has potential to be something more though, and I'm not saying that just because I've exceeded two hours of playtime and can no longer refund it.

Days of War is an objective-based FPS with classes. In action, I find that it often resembles a strange mix of fast-paced old school gameplay and slow-paced tactical shooting. Movement feels relatively arcadey (though not entirely as fast as I expected, and with sprinting), but deaths almost always feel like they come faster than they do in Insurgency, Day of Infamy or Counter-Strike, due in part to one-shot-killing bolt action rifles. And speaking of Counter-Strike, the recoil here can feel more hostile in comparison - “challenging recoil” certainly wasn’t a lie, with the exception of the incredibly accurate deployed machine guns.

While writing this, I was suddenly inspired to rely on hip fire and strafing/erratic movements at close-to-mid ranges. For the rest of the night, the game kind of clicked. It’s old school, but with iron sights that offer useful accuracy at long ranges and stamina-based sprinting. The following night had me thinking "weird hybrid" again though. 

It's an old school game, but you can sprint and aim down sights.
It's an old school game, but you can sprint and aim down sights.

Maps definitely feel old-school, as at least one YouTuber describes; linear, with several narrow pathways and choke points. The map that got removed, Thunder (which was apparently a near-exact copy of the Day of Defeat map, Donner). took this a bit too far in my opinion though - aside from the middle lane, I’ll I remembered were two obscenely narrow paths at the sides of the map - which is why I’m extremely glad it’s gone. The downside is that now there’re only three maps at the moment - two small and linear urban ones for Domination and the not-as-linear-feeling but more barebones-looking Omaha beach for Detonation. Detonation feels a bit like a Search-and-Destroy mode, although there's a separate SnD mode coming soon, along with Escort and Free-for-All.

The current near-future roadmap also aims to add two more maps - hopefully less linear - to the roster, as well as two more factions - the British and the Russians. If two new maps sounds like an underwhelming amount even for an Early Access game, then the map editor might soothe your worries a bit. There’ll also be cosmetic progression, stat-tracking, and various tweaks and fixes. What I’m looking forward to the most - aside from the new maps - are the improvements to visibility and shooting. Right now, I find that the urban maps are best played with the dust effect disabled, while the developers’ intention to add more “pop” and “satisfaction” to the shooting is not unfounded, although the current gunplay could be worse.

I’m just as eager to see them implement their plans for making it easier for the player to confirm assists. It’d probably just be assists appearing in the kill feed, and frankly that’s all I want. That alone would make it so much easier to tell on the spot if the blood spray my bullets caused actually meant something. I’m also slightly hoping that the blood spray and squishy sound of bullets entering flesh will be made to be more noticeable at longer ranges.

Bolt-action rifles are one-shot kill weapons.
Bolt-action rifles are one-shot kill weapons.

What I’m not sure of is whether the devs will tweak Domination mode, or how. Right now, matches commonly feel like Team Deathmatch with flags. Getting the sense that both teams are fighting over the objective isn’t the norm, and wars of attrition that often result from the map design seems to emphasize the killing even more. Plus, with victory only gained by capturing all flags, there are quite a lot of stalemates too. On the occasions that objectives do get captured fairly frequently, or one team completely steamrolls the other, there's still not much sense of flow and rhythm.

Another issue is that I don't see or feel much synergy between the classes. I'd hope to see a machine gunner laying down fire from a window, marksmen shooting from a distance and those playing the Assault class advancing, but maybe this isn't that sort of game. Perhaps communication is needed, but I don't think that basic cooperation between classes should require much communication in the first place. Whatever the case, classes feel more like they’re there to offer alternative ways of killing enemies rather than complementing or contributing to the team or objectives in some way.

That’s not to say that the game isn’t any fun, even in its skeletal Early Access state, but I can only recommend it to those who’re either really bored with their current batch of online shooters or are really itching for a World War 2 multiplayer FPS. And for the latter, Day of Infamy offers a compelling slower-paced alternative. But even so, it’s too early to rule out Days of War completely yet; we'll have to let it evolve first, and hopefully it'll evolve into something that can sufficiently please hardcore old school gamers while being decently accessible.

Oh, and the game will have occasional 100-player battle events, one of which concluded recently. It's intended for data collection and fun mayhem rather than a Battlefield-rivalling experience, but it's a cool idea. I didn't get to try it, but below's a video of the numerous Allied and Wehrmacht players clashing on Omaha.

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Melvyn Tan
About the Author
A secretly eccentric college student who mostly plays shooters on PC, although his gaming interests also extend to sneaking around in sizeable environments and slashing at things. He prefers his turn-based strategy games to involve miniatures and dice, and thinks that NieR: Automata's 2B is waifu material.
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