Recently, Discordia and I attended EGX Rezzed in London, and it definitely gave me a positive first look at what conventions are like, since it was my very first. While there we did a number of things and played a number of games, including Guns of Icarus: Alliance, Q.U.B.E 2 (check out Discordia’s thoughts on that), Kenshi, and one game that particularly stood out to both of us, the WW2 FPS, Battalion 1944.
The time we spent playing Battalion 1944 was some of the most fun I’ve had in 15 minutes for quite a while, and I for one cannot wait for its public beta on Steam in the summer. From a brief talk with a member of the team, who is a big fan of FPS games, Counter-Strike in particular, he said that while all the mainstream FPS franchises are going deep into the future and using crazy abilities to enhance the basics of your character, they wanted to go back to the old school, raw online FPS.
While there’d be different unlockable weapons to use, they’d all be balanced as best as they can, with all their own strengths and weaknesses, the real factor that determines how well you do would be your mechanical skills, your aim, reaction times, special awareness and map/weapon knowledge. He feels like games such as this are lacking in the market right now, and I agree completely, it’s very refreshing to have a game where the main/only factor that helps you win is yourself, making sure your aim is on point, that you know what you’re doing, that your team is focusing on the right objectives, that you have to be better than your opponent to win. I’ve been playing FPS titles for 3 years now, including Team Fortress, Counter-Strike, Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, Overwatch and more, and while I welcome this idea of an FPS like Battalion 1944, I do feel like the massive emphasis on your skill as a player could maybe scare off those who are new to the genre however, then again the same could be said about games with lots of complex abilities and perks, in my opinion the simple nature of the game would make it easier to learn and play than a game such as Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare or Overwatch, which are very ability based, and don’t always come down to mechanical skill when beating your opponent (and vice versa).
I would also say that it’s very nice to see a game with a WW2 theme, because, with the exception of Battlefield 1, most mainstream FPS games seem to be going far into the future, which, in the case of the Call of Duty franchise, hasn’t been what most players want. However, as much as the WW2 theme is awesome, from what we gained talking about the dev team, the WW2 theme is actually irrelevant. It’s simply a look for the game, which adds different sides (e.g. Americans and Germans), selects the weapons you’ll use, the game could be set far in the future and the game mechanics would be the same, I do think this is a good idea since there isn’t too much emphasis on the setting of the game, solely the gameplay, although it is nice to see a WW2 themed game regardless.
At EGX we were lucky enough to have played the game, and it’s the most fun 15 minutes I’ve had in a long time. While we only played one game of Team Deathmatch, the game was simple, easy to get used to, easy to control, had good map design, and most importantly, was a lot of fun. Luckily, I’ve been played FPS for the past 3 years, so I was able to do much better than Discordia, but how well we did wasn’t important, it was about classic FPS kill-everything fun, you had to be alert and aware, but you didn’t have to try-hard. I do look forward to what the other game modes will hold, as other gamemodes focused more around team play were going to be implemented, we were told, which is something I’m very happy about, because while TDM is the classic FPS gamemode, seeing a strong emphasis on teamwork can mean for so much more of an enjoyable experience. We were told that right now, the game is in Alpha for the Kickstarters (who amazingly gave so much more than the developers asked for), but an open beta will be released around summer time, and the hype is already hitting me.
Battalion 1944, while being a game that intends to mimic the classic online FPS titles from the birth of the genre, really stands out today, due to how the games around now have arguably put less of a focus on solely mechanical skill. To any FPS fan, or old school player, Battalion 1944 is definitely worth a try when the open beta goes live, and I look forward to seeing what the developers add post-release.