MP40s and Kar98Ks are back in style in this fast-paced romp through the second World War.
There’s something distinct about the way the original Call of Duty and its first sequel captured the relentless chaos of war and distilled it down to reflex-based twitch shooting. Battalion 1944, for better and for worse, is pretty much exactly that.
I think I lasted maybe 10 seconds into my first match before getting headshot from across the map by someone I couldn’t see. Many of the battlegrounds feature long stretches of open space or tight corners that open up into tiny arena bunkers and courtyards. Even the forest-based maps included spots with no trees specifically to foster lining up the best shot. The layouts being designed this way certainly encourage a healthy amount of gunfire, but they sometimes funnel people towards each other so quickly I barely had time to breathe before I was waiting to respawn again.
There are no killstreaks to unlock, you won’t deck out your character with tons of gear, and you won’t find any perk trees or loot crates at all here. Instead, at the start of each match you get to choose a primary weapon, such as the fully automatic MP40 or single-shot bolt-action Kar98K rifle. You can choose a scoped version of the Kar as well to become a sniper. If you decide to play, you’ll have to get used to being sniped a lot.
Battalion 1944 is all about player skill. If you’re not used to no-scope sniping across maps and bunny hopping around corners before you 360-spin off of a balcony to get three headshots without blinking, then you might have a rough time here at first. Death comes very swiftly and frequently.
Battalion 1944 is brutally difficult in the kind of way that modern shooters are largely afraid to be. It’s still in Early Access so of course things could change, but there are zero tutorials and no single-player campaign to distract you from the action. No – this is a game that wants you to paint the streets red with the blood of fallen soldiers.
Since it’s still in Early Access, some major server issues remain. Sometimes I had to wait upwards of five minutes for a match to even load and other times I was waiting around in the pre-game lobby with random people for just as long.
There are a handful of classic shooter game modes on offer right now, split up between the Unranked mode (right now that’s only Wartide, in which one team must plant a bomb while the other team defends – basically like Counter-Strike’s bread and butter) and Arcade, which mixes up Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Capture the Flag into a single playlist.
Battalion 1944 probably isn’t the kind of game that’s going to overtake PUBG, Overwatch, Counter-Strike, or any others in terms of recurring players, but it doesn’t have to. In order for this game to be successful for Bulkhead Interactive and Square Enix (it’s part of the Square Enix Collective) it just needs to eke out a small, dedicated fanbase of regular players, and it already seems to be doing just that. As long as the developers can maintain a steady update schedule to squash bugs and introduce new maps and game modes as appropriate, then Battalion 1944 could have some serious legs for classic Wwii Shooter fans.
If this sounds up your alley, you can buy into the Early Access version of the game right now on Steam.
David Jagneaux is a contributor to IGN. Talk turkey (mmm, turkey…) with him on Twitter at @DavidJagneaux.