Written by Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
When I think about playing games growing up, the majority of my childhood memories were from buying and playing the first ever Call of Duty. I have always been a huge fan of first person shooters, and Call of Duty definitely set the bar early for the genre. There were many shooters like it, but COD always had a huge following here in Europe, and from a competitive aspect it simply was the fan favorite. Because of this I have played every Call of Duty competitively until the PC community was left in the dark after Call of Duty 4. Ever since then I have felt this empty void that no other game could really fill. Battalion 1944 is a game that tries to combine both the successes of Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty 4 Promod into a heavily focused competitive game, and tries to bring back the glory days that I once knew.
When new games and products are announced or released, the quote ‘For gamers by gamers’ is always thrown around as if it grants legitimacy to the team behind the product, that they know exactly what to do and that it’ll all be fine. In reality, I always think the term is heavily misused to trick people into buying the products. For Battalion 1944, I can’t stop thinking about this term and what a great deal of competitive shooter fans have influenced the industry over the last ten years. Battalion 1944 is made by a small group of developers called Bulkhead Interactive, and just like me, they have had this empty void and no other game really scratched this itch. So they decided it was time to do something about this and worked towards their idea and finally set up a Kickstarter project back in February 2016. While I have followed the development ever since very closely, I was very hesitant to jump right in and wanted to see their progress over time, and for the past year I’ve been able to try out their game in private sessions.
Over the last 6 months I have seen a game slowly getting formed out of nothing, and I have seen a lot of creativity and love put into a game that has been launched into early access only recently. While the game took a long time to slowly be shaped into a playable form, a lot of people I know and have met in in my life that have played similar games have helped the development in slight ways. It was apparent that a lot of people share the same or somewhat similar vision of what made the early Call of Duty so glorious to the competitive community of the past. But ever since the announcement of the Early Access, I have been wondering: Was it really wise to ‘launch’ this soon?
For people who aren’t really familiar with the route that Battalion 1944 is taking, let me give you a brief bit of information of what the game is mainly inspired by and what people like me have been missing out on in the recent years, despite games like CSGO being very popular and growing by the day. The Call of Duty series has always had this faster pace of closed combat, and gameplay was a lot more focused on movement and reflexes, than straight on relying on their aim. Strafe jumping, and hopping around the map as fast as possible, is what made this game a lot more interesting and action packed than what you might be used to when watching a game such as Counter Strike. Battalion 1944 is heavily inspired by this type of play, similar to the Call of Duty 4 Promod days, but this time around its in a World War Two setting like COD2.
Bulkhead Interactive combined these very flawed but extremely fun games, added to them, and is hoping to break through in the industry with this very fun formula that many gamers once loved. As a review for the Early Access its always very difficult to give a game a fair look, especially shooters since many of them change drastically over time. Even Battalion 1944 is still very young and in its early days. The game is far from done, but let me give you a quick rundown of what the game now is heavily focused on, to build the game into more than just a competitive shooter.
During the old Call of Duty era, there wasn’t any economy or influence that Teams had to react to during a game, because there wasn’t any need for buying weapons or anything else to play with. There wasn’t for example a monetary gain like in Counter Strike when getting kills or winning the rounds. There wasn’t any impact whatsoever, and this made the game from an outside perspective, in the case of spectating and commentary, fairly narrow with not a lot of room to play with. Gameplay focused on the perfectly practiced and executed strategies of players. Instead of also playing around with currency in Battalion 1944, the developers have made up a Card System. While this sounds extremely vague, the idea of it is actually very interesting, so let me give you a quick run down of how it currently works in Battalion.
Do note that this system is definitely going to change. I’m not sure in what way and if its going to be very drastic, but the idea probably stays very much the same depending on the mode you play, be it unranked or the competitive game mode. There are currently cards that you can use for every weapon in the game. While some weapons are seen as the default class and there are pretty much an unlimited amount of cards, most weapons have a starting value of only three cards, and it is up to the player to keep as many cards as possible during the duration of a game so that they have a bigger advantage over the opponent. When someone is killed with any of these special cards, the cards are dropped on top of the body, and either side can pick these up to add this card to their ‘deck’ for later use in other rounds. So the game has had an extra element added into it that in some way looks similar to Counter Strike, and thus some rounds will have ‘eco rounds’ in the sense that perhaps not a lot of cards are used, in the hope of taking cards from the enemy, or people go all out and see where that gets them. As you can imagine, this type of system needs a lot of testing, and probably will be changed a lot to find the perfect balance of play. The foundation will hopefully always be the same, and although I am very skeptical towards this system still, I do think that it adds in an extra interesting element, and matches aren’t just a simple ‘lets execute this exact same strategy we have used already 5 times successfully in a row’ because logically speaking every scenario should be different, in one way or another.
The early access of Battalion 1944 has left me a little confused. On one hand, the void that was once empty has definitely been filled up with the pleasure of a game very similar to that I once very much enjoyed. But the game in its current state and form is still very much of that of a ‘tested behind the scenes’ or alpha phase type of game. The game is currently riddled with bugs and crashes that you have to look past, because the fun gameplay definitely makes up for it. There is also a lack of maps and game modes to currently enjoy. While the game has its many issues, I can’t seem to stay positive and hopeful. Even the Steam Reviews are fair when you look at them. While the majority of the people is still very much positive, the negative ones definitely need to be heard, and I can definitely agree with the majority of them right now. I’m just gonna say it, the game currently is a mess.
Is it a bad game? No it definitely isn’t, but it isn’t a fully functioning game either. While Square Enix has promised to throw a lot of money at the game, and hopefully will try their best to make an official E-Sports out of it, it still has long ways to go before actually being finished and I know this can throw off a lot of people. While I have a lot of fun in this game, I can definitely understand why people are left with a bitter taste in their mouths with the question ‘is this really it?’. And unfortunately, yes this is really it. While the price is low, and the developers are communicative, if you buy into this game you should definitely expect it to be very rough around its edges, though the very fun game play when it does work definitely makes up for it. If you aren’t a huge fan of shooters, it is probably best to keep an eye on it now and let it sit on the side. But if you are a huge fan of the early Call of Duty games, it might be worth to give it an eye, and for the very low price it isn’t a whole lot to commit to and you will help further development of the game. While I personally absolutely love what I have seen so far, and I already have spend many hours on this game so far, I also have my frustrations with them, and do think the game still has a long way to go.
Current Thoughts: Good (3.5/5)
The gameplay has the perfect ingredients for a very fun shooter. But the bowl where these ingredients have been put in, barely holds up and includes many cracks and holes. If you can see through the flaws it is a fun game for its low price, but right now I cannot give it a fair look since its still very much early in its development. Perhaps I am still a little too fair with my score, but I do think the game is on the right track to become a major part of the shooter genre.