Battalion 1944 has been on my radar since I played it briefly at EGX Rezzed last year, although in the past week it has exploded into Early Access and appears to be all that everyone is talking about. Catching the attention of tens of thousands of players already, Battalion 1944 has taken the classic WW2 FPS style and has brought it into 2018. Its early doors and there’s still a lot of work to be done, but if you happen to be a fan of the classic Call of Duty series (before Modern Warfare 2), this may be worth checking out.
Currently sporting two modes, developer, Bulkhead Interactive, has given players a few options to get a handle on the Battalion experience. The ‘Wartide’ mode - essentially the familiar bomb defusal mode that you’ll see in games like Counter-Strike - is currently only available to play unranked. However, a ranked version will be available from February 8th onwards to players that have achieved Level 10. As someone that loves playing CS:GO, I enjoyed the unranked matches. The gameplay feels somewhat similar to a casual Counter-Strike game although I was surprised by how serious the other players were. I haven’t personally had any bad experiences with the community in these matches, but I have read a number of posts on Reddit and Steam where new players have been kicked by popular vote very early on, simply because they hadn’t had the chance to get to grips with the game yet. There are no prompts to inform players how to plant/defuse bombs (you use the ‘F’ key, by the way) and there is no explanation as to how the cards system works so you have to find your feet quickly when playing these matches.
There are six different cards to choose from, with each relating to a specific weapon and a couple of grenades. Players will be able to choose from these simplified loadouts at the beginning of each round in unranked, or between deaths in Arcade mode. However, these loadouts are limited (in Wartide), meaning that you may not be able to pick the one you want all the time. Replenishing the loadouts is simple: just kill members of the enemy team and pick up the tokens that they leave behind on the ground. The more you kill, the more you earn and the better off your team will be for the following round. It’s also worth mentioning that anyone can pick up these tokens, so if you see one, retrieve it quickly!
The Arcade mode currently offers Team Deathmatch, Domination and Capture the Flag maps, which players are placed in at random. These maps are probably the best ones to cut your teeth on as it’ll give you a good opportunity to test out each of the weapons and familiarise yourself with each of the maps. While these maps serve as a great introduction to Battalion 1944, it’s here that I’ve experienced the most issues with regards to crashes, team balancing and more.
The last few days have seen Bulkhead rolling out a number of fixes and, while its clear that they’re doing everything they can to improve players’ experiences, there’s still a long way for them to go. Of course, the game did just launch into Steam Early Access on February 1st so I’m not looking to be too harsh, but I’ve encountered a number of problems that I’m sure many players are waiting to be fixed before they jump back into the game. On launch, many players were unable to get games as the servers were unable to cope with the sheer number of people trying to play. A few days on, it’s far easier to get into the game, although there are still several problems that have disrupted my sessions over the weekend. Losing connection with the server and having the game randomly crash were common occurrences and, on the occasions where I was able to remain in a match, I found that the team balancing was pretty bad. Most of my games consisted of unfair teams such as 5v2 or 4v1 which resulted in more people just quitting and looking for another match. In a recent patch, Bulkhead have stated that they may have found a “potential fix” to solve the backfilling issues so hopefully that won’t be as much of a problem for those picking up the game from now on. Bulkhead have also posted updates on Steam everyday since the game entered Early Access and are keen to keep communications open with the community to iron out ongoing bugs.
Battalion 1944 entered Steam Early Access on February 1st. If you would like to play the game during the Early Access period, you can now purchase it on Steam.
Battalion 1944 has attracted a lot of attention but only time will tell whether its offering enough to rival the other dominant FPSes on the market. As I keep mentioning, it’s very early on and the game is nowhere near reaching its full potential just yet, but it’s certainly off to a good start, minus the server issues. There are a few features that I’m not too keen on such as the soldiers’ awkwardly small amount of stamina when running and the delay that I’ve experienced when trying to scope with some of the weapons. However, the fast-paced gameplay and high-standard of play amongst some of the playerbase keeps enticing me to jump in for another match. It’s also nice to see a diverse map pool this early on which appear to be easy to learn if you’re new, with some added depth in the form of good hiding spots and shortcuts once you’re more versed. If you need a break from Counter-Strike or PUBG, this is worth checking out for a tenner.