Making our modern guns look sexy and playing with various high-tech toys has been the in-thing in shooters for about a decade now. Lately however, games where players get to wield simple but charming M1 Garands and MP40s seem to have been making a comeback. Today, we have two Early Access multiplayer-focused World War 2 shooters on Steam, with another two multiplayer-centric titles and a co-op one set in the same era on the way, and none of them are sequels.
While we've also had Red Orchestra 2 and its Rising Storm expansion, the recent Sniper Elite games (including last month's fourth entry) and free-to-play MMOFPS Heroes and Generals, the announcement of these five titles within the span of less than one and a half years makes them pretty notable to us, even if they don't involved companies like Activision or Ubisoft and lack single-player campaigns. Although a bit too early to say, it does seem like a promising time for those needing a break from airstrikes and assault rifles while preferring WW2 shooters over WW1 ones. With this list, we'll take a look at the new batch of World War 2 shooters and see what each title has to offer.
Developer: Bulkhead Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Release date: TBA
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Made by designers who played Medal of Honor and Call of Duty 2 while growing up, Battalion 1944 promises raw skill over grinding for unlocks, abilities and exosuits. Powered by Unreal Engine 4, the infantry-based shooter also seeks to be the spiritual shooter to "the great multiplayer shooters of the past".
But while you won't be pimping out guns like you might in most current shooters, there's still some personalization available in the form of cosmetic unlocks. Players will be able to earn visual upgrades their character as well as accessries and weapons, which will all adhere to a realistic art style to maintain the "authentic World War 2 experience".
The most notable feature in Battalion 1944 might be the Battalions (so there's a reason to the name after all). Joining one will lete you compete seasonally with BattleRank, the game's global competition system, and contributing to your Battalion's season objective (there are also shorter, hourly objectives) will earn the same type of unlocks mentioned in the previous paragraph. There's also stat-tracking, which will please competitive gamers.
Within Battalions, you can create clan-like platoons, and being renowned in your Battalion for "being the deadliest, most effective, or the most active platoon" will result in unique rewards.
The rest of Battalion 1944's features are basic-sounding but much appreciated, like LAN support, server hosting, persistent anti-cheat and community involvement in development. Modes include basics like Capture the Flag, Team Deatmatch, Search & Destroy and Domination, and the devs promise that the game "will be on the forefront of video game graphics".
Developer: Driven Arts
Publisher: Driven Arts
Release date: January 26, 2017 (Early Access), 2018 (Full Release)
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Announced the same month as Battalion 1944 (last February), Days of War ended up releasing first in Early Access. And similar to Battalion 1944, Days of War pokes fun at some modern features like wall jumps and "drone strikes ordered from iPads", saying that "bullets are what matter". Another back to basics shooter, basically, and one powered by Unreal 4 as well. So many similarities!
The game promises five things: competitive gameplay, immersion, gameplay variety, class-based combat and modding support. The game's early stage means that the map editor is currently absent (but "coming along great"), and variety is limited to four maps, each supporting a single gamemode. The last time I played there were Domination and Detonation game modes, with Escort, Search & Destroy and Free for All planned to be added next. There will also be stat tracking and cosmetic progression.
It's hard to compare this with Battalion 1944 in terms of gameplay, but Days of War definitely has an old-school feel with modern aspects like (limited) sprinting and iron sights. I had fun with the game, but some things didn't sit well with me, especially the combination of old-school and new school (aiming down sights makes automatic and semi-automatic weapons harder to use, in my experience). You can read my complete thoughts on it here.
The game supports 32-player battles (and special 100-player events), but at time of writing, SteamDB showed that there are only 9 people in-game, so don't expect to play much if you buy the game now, even if its cheaper than it will be as a full release (it's only RM47 in Malaysia, too). I do think that Days of War has potential however, and changes and improvements could shape the game into something fairly notable, hence why it's on this list.
Developer: New World Interactive
Publisher: New World Interactive
Release date: July 29, 2016 (Early Access), March 23, 2017 (Full Release)
Website: New World Interactive
Originally a mod for tactical modern shooter Insurgency, made by the developers of Insurgency, Day of Infamy evolved into a standalone release that feels very much like a unique and separate experience from the game that spawned it, despite some similarities. It was announced last June, released in July and boasts 148 players according to SteamDB at time of writing. According to some of the Steam discussion threads this is due to the current lack of marketing, but even with the low player count I could get into populated games easily enough, albeit with high but very playable pings.
Like Insurgency, Day of Infamy focuses on tactical infantry combat with different classes. Unlike Insurgency, there are less customization choices and weapon options, but there are flamethrowers and artillery strikes that bring new intensity to battles.
Artillery strikes are the result of Officers and Radiomen, who can also pair up to request supply drops, smoke screens, aircraft strafing and bombing runs, which are notable on the battlefield and add a sense of scale. The Steam page says that there are 10 maps set in Southern and Western Europe, ranging from war-torn cities (my favourite) to farm villages, fortified beachheads and snow-covered forests. There're also 9 classes and 10 objective-based game modes, but in honesty I never felt as if there were that many modes or maps available (maybe due in part to the small playerbase).
My experience involved capturing areas and destroying targets, but it seems that there are also "officers to assassinate' as well. The game's larger battles allow for mutiple reinforcement waves while smaller ones utilize special reinforcement mechanics instead. There is also co-op with "three distinct game modes" and various enemy difficulties.
In the full release, players will be able to earn cosmetic items like historic units and weapon upgrades. The game also supports mods and Steam Workshop support. I don't have a thousand words written about Day of Infamy, but I find the experience good enough (and games easy to find enough) to give the game a recommendation. It's RM35 at the moment, by the way, and is cheaper if you own Insurgency and buy the New World Collection Bundle.
Developer: Lion game Lion
Publisher: Starbreeze Studios
Release date: Summer 2017
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Website: RAID: World War 2
Unlike the other titles on this list, Raid: World War 2's emphasis is on co-op, with four players battling against the Nazi forces in Europe. In terms of its tone, "... it's not Band of Brothers, but it's like Kelly's Heroes, or it's Inglourious Basterds" said Ilija Petrusic, who designed missions and levels for Payday 2, in this gameplay demo from E3 2016.
The gameplay does remind me of Payday 2 in ways, especially with the "hold F" to grab stuff and "press G" to throw stuff controls that seem to scream "World War 2 Payday!", as well as the numbers of bodies you'll leave lying on the ground. You'll even be doing some stealing, according to the game's description:
"RAID: World War II is an action-packed four player co-op shooter set during a time when the Nazis was winning and hope was in short supply. Four players team up to fight and steal all across Europe. Anything goes, as long as one simple goal is achieved: stop the Nazis." Sabotage and assassination are also mentioned in the following paragraph, so there will be some deviation from Payday 2's objectives, at least.
According to Petrusic, there will be four classes, such as the shotgun-totting Demolition class. Skill trees, synergy and things that only specific classes can do are also mentioned, but the site currently lacks further details on the matter, and further gameplay videos are absent at this time as well. The concept and the recent cinematic trailer are certainly appealing however, and hopefully the game will be the same (and not too similar to Payday 2 in feel).
Developer: Darkflow Software
Publisher: Gaijin Entertainment
Release date: 2017
Darkflow Software's MMO squad-based shooter might make you think of Heroes and Generals, if only because of the "MMO" part. It'll be exhausting to delve into further comparisons, but Enlisted does have a distinguishing feature - Campaigns.
"Popular World War II battles will be present in the Enlisted in separate campaigns," explains the game's description. "To re-create each of these battles requires not only the creation of separate content like new locations, characters, weapons and vehicles - it also requires a huge amount of work on creating the game rules and balance in them. This is why each campaign will be developed separately from each other."
The FAQ elaborates on the matter, saying that every battle "is actually a separate game" and that Enlisted will feature "separate chapters within certain battles" rather than a “'mixture' of different WW2 (specific front) episodes". Furthermore, the developers wish to "create scenarios that have tactics similar to real combat missions" instead of merely creating arenas for multiplayer battles.
It sounds a bit confusing - or very, in my case - at first, but the message seems to be that, instead of simply representing the Battle of Moscow by having a Moscow map and letting players play Team Deathmatch there, the game aims to delve deeper into things and provide different experiences with each "campaign" that correspond with the respective setting. Hope I got that right. To summarize the rest of the details about "campaigns", expect objectives that are more in line with both "real warfare" and single-player campaigns like capturing footholds, enabling landings for the main force and guiding troops to a strategic point in time.
Aside from that, Enlisted also boasts scale with hundreds of soldiers battling on maps "up to hundreds of square kilometers", and some modes will let players lead AI squads into battle. Currently, the game has received enough funding to have three campaigns: "Invasion of Normandy", "Battle of Moscow" and a Tunisian campaign. Controllable vehicles are also planned.