Battalion 1944 makes me fondly remember that I’m an absolute nerd when it comes to military history. My early memories as a six-year-old involve an encyclopedia of the World Wars, and the Axis vs. Allies, or the Central Powers vs. The Triple Entente. Come my mid-teen years, I delved into Call of Duty and Battlefield, amazed that the scenes and battles I had only read and watched could now be played. I experienced the exhilaration, the panic, and the brutality of World War II in the confines of my living room, through a monitor.
Then, those games went from grounded depictions of the war to insane high-jumping and robot-fighting nonsense. PvP turned into an arcade bum-rush of noobtube spams or people hopping around like rabbits. I would sometimes spawn in the middle of an air strike or a pack of rabid dogs. People chained random killstreak stuff over and over. I couldn’t keep up with it any longer. In spite of the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises going back to a more realistic and historical setting recently, they just didn’t feel the same. Battalion 1944 sets out to give me that feeling back.
Battalion 1944 goes back to basics
According to the game’s Steam description, Battalion 1944 is an attempt to go back to basics. This Kickstarter-backed project emphasizes skill over everything else. That’s how I’ve always envisioned a World War II shooter. It’s more grounded. It’s more realistic. You can’t just jump around the map because anyone who did that in the Battle of the Bulge or Omaha Beach wouldn’t last long.
I’ve tried other so-called “realistic WWII shooters” such as Red Orchestra and the classic Day of Defeat, but the graphics turned me off. Watching Battalion 1944’s gameplay videos, however, definitely piqued my interest. The visuals look fairly okay. Not too polished, but not too bad either. The animations and gunplay look fairly tight. Quick kills for certain weapons due to the realism factor also made me giggle. After all, the last thing I need in a historical war game is seeing someone survive an MP-40 burst.
A dedicated community, a major update, and esports opportunities
I believe a number of gamers have gotten burned out a little bit due to the repetitive nature of shooters every year. Battalion 1944 can provide an alternative and a look back at PC shooters of old. The community is naturally smaller than other games on the market, but they are a loyal bunch who fully support the game. I like that. I recall the old Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide player base when we were only a handful of players. It was almost as if everyone knew one another and folks worked hand-in-hand with developers to improve a niche product.
The recent Major Update 2 has also been well-received by Battalion 1944’s dedicated fans. Its competitive game mode, Wartide, has been improved and revamped. A new seasonal cosmetic progression system, Battlerank, was introduced to add an extra grind and replayability. There are new maps and weapons, as well as improved stability and performance optimization. This update pretty much gets the game back on track on the road to success.
Despite being a small game with a small but supportive player base, Battalion 1944 also has its own esports events. During the Blitzkrieg Open Championship last March-April, it offered top teams a prize pool of $14,000. Not too shabby at all for a game looking to enter the market. Esports experimentation and expansion have also been discussed by its fans as well as pundits.
Starting small and growing
As you might’ve noticed, I’m someone who’s been waiting for a good, small-scale competitive shooter set in World War II. It looks like Battalion 1944 will provide that entertainment for me. Major Update 2 also shows that the developer, Bulkhead Interactive, does care about improving the game and catering to its players.
It’s not perfect; it’s still in Early Access. Even though the game’s player base has dwindled significantly in previous months — likely people trying out the Early Access version for the first couple of hours before bailing — around 350 have remained in full support of it. This has held steady for the past 30 days.
I can only wish this game more luck and continued support in the future. You can find the entire patch notes for the Major Update 2 here. Just like World War II, it’s unbelievably gigantic!