This weekend saw the eagerly awaited closed beta for the upcoming WWII shooter Battalion 1944. We were lucky enough to have access to the beta so thought we’d bring you our thoughts on our time with the game. All impressions in this preview are based on the games pre Early Access build so are subject to change.
Let me start by saying Battalion 1944 is as hard as fricking nails. With the game’s WWII designs it has understandably been compared to Call of Duty: WWII but is by no means a copycat of the Activision’s powerhouse shooter franchise. If you were to compare Battalion to a shooter it would have to be CS: GO. Not only does Battalion boast a real skill-based emphasis like counterstrike, it’s also very much a team game – no solo K/D killstreaks here.
The build around teamwork was the first thing I love about Battalion. The closed beta offered three different game modes, Team Deathmatch, Control and Capture the Flag. Granted, Team Deathmatch could be played a little bit more solo, and having a good player on your team did bring a sense of carrying, but I feel this is the case in just about any game that offers a TDM mode.
It was in both the Control and Capture the Flag mode where the teamwork really came to life. The only time I ever saw a team triumph was when there was a tactical approach to their gameplay, whether that be moving in smaller teams or flanking an objective. It’s was this sense of comradery that kept me playing throughout the weekend. I can only apologise to anyone who had me on their team.
This tactical approach also dripped its way into the weapon selection for each map. Much like the modes, the beta also offered three different maps; Battery, close quarters trench-based map, Derailed, A wartorn village mid-range map and Costal, a small town inspired map that offered the longest sight opportunities. Picking your weapons before a match was similar to Battlefield, where you choose a class, but unlike Battlefield the different classes didn’t really come with different responsibilities. For example, a support class didn’t require you to provide ammo for your teammates. I found to be a pretty huge hole in the gameplay, especially as the rest of the game does such good job of making you feel like part of a team. This extra responsibility approach to the classes is something we may see come in during the games time in Early Access.
Back to the weapons. I’m not going to pretend I know the exact name of the WWII weapons, but I will say they all handled exactly how I’d imagine them to handle. Linking back to the maps, your weapon selection proved key. Taking a bolt-action rifle into Battery gave you a chance when you caught a glimpse of an enemy from a distance, but if someone came around the next corner with a sub-machine gun then it was your turn to say goodnight. With me not really being a hardcore FPS player, I often go with some type of automatic weapon, but with the difference in maps, I found myself stretching my comfort zone and try new weapons, even if it was to little avail.
Through the 6 hours, I spent with the game I was able to just reach rank 3, which felt fair giving the scores I was personally offered the team. What did surprise me is that there seems to be no reward for levelling up, not yet anyway. If you headed into the training area you could not only see all the weapons the game offered, but also give them a go on the range, but I wasn’t too sure of how to unlock these? Personally, I’d like to see the ability to build/customise a loadout for matches, not to the extent of COD, but just the ability to may choose a scope or a different ironsight, nothing that gives you an advantage, but something that makes the gun feel personal to you.
Seeing Battalion 1944 grow over the past few years at press events has been a please to watch, and diving into the almost Early Access build proved to me that this is not a game for me. But that is not to say it’s a bad game if anything it’s a very good game, just a very hard good game. If your an FPS player looking for a steep learning curve and a heavy emphasis on skill rather than time spent with the game the Battalion 1944 is definitely for you. If like me, you enjoy FPS games but have no ambition to play them competitively or at least seriously then maybe skip this one, or like me, you’ll be seeing the respawn counter a lot more than actual gameplay.
Battalion 1944 enters Early Access on the 1st February and gat be purchased for £11.99, which is a cheaper price than that of the full release. At the moment, developer Bulkhead Interactive have said you can expect Battalion to be in Early Access for around a year.