There’s a reason Second World War shooters went away: fatigue. They didn’t stop being good, they just got tired like an overused muscle. Medal Of Honor, Call Of Duty, Brothers in Arms - even things like The Saboteur - wore the material to a tissue paper thinness. Borrowing ideas, tropes and inspiration to the point where, towards the end, they started cannibalising each other as source material rather than the actual war itself.
However, all a tired muscle needs is rest, and if the recent success of Battalion 1944 is anything to go by, you lot are ready for more. Launched on Kickstarter last week, Battalion was funded in a matter of days on the promise of bringing skill-based Second World War multiplayer to consoles. But what’s got you so excited by the idea? We asked for opinions and this is what you told us.
Perhaps, most interestingly, one of the main responses has not been about a nostalgic return to old shooters of yore, but rather fatigue with current options. The exact same thing that saw WW2 shooters gently fading away seems to happening again - people are getting tired of repeated mechanics and ideas apparently liberally recycled from contemporary titles. “Sweet Baby Jesus I'm sick of power suits, cybernetics, and aliens in every goddamn shooter” says Howard J Bartreau. And Alan Joyce also says that he’s fed up with all the “exo suit bullshit and futuristic gun crap,” while Alistair Taylor concludes “No wall running, exos, invisibility, overpowered streaks and magic targeting sights? Count me in!”
On top of this weariness of the exosuits and super soldiers that were meant to replace M1 Garand, Bren guns and Stielhandgranate, there’s also a desire to return to a more skill-based setup. Stripping out all the huge power ups and even huge... erer guns. “[I] need back to basics not upgrades” says Dustin Ackley highlighting the feature creep of recent shooters. It’s something Battalion 1944 is focusing on with minimal gear and a levelling system built around cosmetic changes. For people like Dustin it’s as much about a return to “skill and teamwork” as it is heading back to Normandy Beach, although such a return would be a perfect way to reset everything and start again.
A trip back to World War Two would instantly remove robo-legs and X-ray guns, leaving players with little more than their wits instead. That seems to be something several of you are keen on. “You actually had to think your way through it, limited [by] your weapons” ponders Caleb Catlin, recalling the glory days of Call of Duty multiplayer. Modern shooters, he thinks, have “too many overpowered weapons [and] not enough tactics and strategy”.
However, while Battalion 1944 has lit a fire under some, whether for nostalgia or a new way of playing, not everyone’s convinced. “WW2 games have been done to death now” believes John TheImmortal, something Samuel Vance Joyce backs up, saying “You can't bring back something that has been over-done to the point of boredom for the past decade.”
Despite this, Battalion 1944’s rapid funding suggests that there’s a real interest in shaking up the state of play for shooters. Whether that’s just from boredom with current options, nostalgia, or a return to basics seems to be irrelevant - you want a change and a journey back could be the first step on a march to new things.