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Battalion 1944 Is The Classic WW2 Shooter You Have Been Asking For

A different kind of old school.

When a developer is working on a game that they themselves like and want to play, you almost invariably end up with a better product. That simple fact feels like it can often get obscured and hindered by deadlines, by focus testing and by following the lead of whatever games are selling well at the time, but if gamers themselves are crying out for a particular kind of game, chances are there’s developers out there with the exact same thoughts.

This generation of console has aligned with a number of major studios chasing after the futuristic FPS. Player movement has been enhanced with jet packs, wall running is practically de rigeur, players soar through the sky and even on the ground, there’s overwrought, gruesomely brutal melee kill animations.

Battalion 1944 cuts the other direction, but it’s more than that, it’s not just a setting that they want to recreate, not just the essence of what games used to be like 10-15 years ago, but what they actually were. Saying this is a WW2 shooter is really just a shorthand for saying it’s a shooter heavily inspired by that era of game, and Call of Duty 2 in particular.

Playing the game on PC, it’s still fast and fluid with the mouse and keyboard controls giving this more of a twitch shooter sensibility than you might find on console. However what really stands out is how simplified everything is. There’s no mantling over walls, no level destruction, no opening doors or melee kill animations, it’s incredibly pure in that regard.

It’s also a lot of fun, tapping into a little of the nostalgia for that era of gameplay that many people have. Time to kill is very low, thanks to the Kar98 essentially being a one hit kill gun, albeit still a bolt action rifle that means that a single miss can so easily spell your demise at the hands of a spray of bullets from a Thompson or MP44. It really depends on how accurate you are, and skilled PC gamers will likely lean towards the single shot rifles for those quick kills, while the balance will swing in favour of fully automated guns for those that need a little more leniency. It’s going to be fascinating to see how this game makes the jump to console in that regard.

One thing that’s perhaps a little surprising to me is just how fast paced it is. The WW2 or modern era shooter has slowed down quite significantly or become entrenched in a particular style of movement of late. Battlefield’s heft and weight are now what I expect to see when I pick up a real world gun in a game, but Battalion 1944 reminds me just how smooth and slick all games of this era were, regardless of the setting and backdrop. Where I personally enjoy having that physicality in games, the feel that your character is really a part of the world and interacting with things, there’s something very refreshing and liberating about the slickness and the simplicity that Bulkhead are recreating here.

Right now, Bulkhead will happily admit that their game is a bit broken and unfinished. There were a couple of game crashes, grenades were woefully ineffective, and trying to melee someone was about as effective as waving a spoon at them from five meters away. Having been in development for around a year, this is still a pre-alpha build and they’re only just gearing up for a closed alpha test before looking to Early Access on PC. A final release is a long way off, but the game feels like it’s in safe hands. They’re leaning on an existing relationship with Square Enix Collective that gives them a little more time and security to develop the game that they want to make, but with the freedom to do so as well.

Whether you’re eager enough to dip a toe into the game’s earliest phases of public release or simply have idle dreams of seeing a game like this on console, Battalion 1944 is definitely one to keep an eye on.

  1. tonyyeb
    Since: Aug 2010

    I’m a Kickstarter backer for Battalion 1944 and to be honest I wish I’d held off now. BF1 is everything I wanted in a WWI shooter and from the early videos I’m a bit put off by how Battalion 1944 is heading. It is looking a bit too hardcore for the casual gamer (i.e. Me). But I’m not going to pull out, just hope it develops more in the kind of direction I was hoping for, still very early days I guess.

    Comment posted on 04/04/2017 at 15:52.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      Bear in mind that what they’re showing right now is the PC version of the game, with all the twitchiness that involves from playing on keyboard and mouse.

      Comment posted on 04/04/2017 at 17:32.
      • tonyyeb
        Since: Aug 2010

        I hope so. I watched another preview video earlier and almost felt sick with the speed of movement.

        Comment posted on 13/04/2017 at 15:45.
  2. baska
    Since: Feb 2009

    I was really excited when I first saw this back when they were asking for donations for the game. The preview looked like something really something that went back to the roots. But, so far infeelba little disappointed. It does look far to hardcore for me. It looks like the game play is not gonna attract new or past fps players back. I need a bit more glamour. In Hope the twitchiness was the pc controls. In really hope this game does live up to expectations. For a first game, so far they’ve done amazingly. Is he pretty sad for them if their expectations don’t pay off.

    Comment posted on 04/04/2017 at 21:13.
  3. JesseDeya
    Since: Jan 2010

    I think Cod WWII will actually be the classic WWII shooter we’ve been asking for. This is stuck 15 years ago, I see almost no contemporary adaptation that blends the best of the old with the best of the new. Might as well just remaster COD 2 in 4K and call it a day.

    Comment posted on 06/04/2017 at 04:09.