Having witnessed some of the insane queues at events like EGX and Gamescom, it always surprises me how casual EGX Rezzed can be. With nary a queue in sight, you’ll often find gaggles of gamers, some of whom have stepped outside for the first time in a few months, crowding around various booths with many upcoming indie hits.
With a mutual understanding, these gamers are often polite enough to let those who were there first jump on, with many stand-offs of people waving each other forward. However, deep in the depths of the Tobacco Dock in London I stumbled across something strange, something often unseen in among the brightly lit corridors of Rezzed. A queue.
This queue was for an upcoming title that’s been one-to-watch for many since its announcement last year. That, my friends, is Battalion 1944 a WWII multiplayer shooter by Bulkhead Interactive, a Derby-based developer who hopes to bring the classic world-war shooter to the 21st century.
Appearing for the first time ever at an event, Rezzed attendees could be among the first to get hands-on with the shooter, an opportunity I couldn’t miss out on, so like any self-important journalist I walked to the front of the queue wafting my press band skipping the queue entirely. Take that non-journalist peasants. (I’m lying, I did skip the queue, but only after coyly and politely asking the rep if I could, like a kid asking his mum for another chocolate biscuit).
Anyway, once inside we were given the choice of being either on the Nazi team or the American team. Being the patriot that I am, I opted to be ‘murican. While the team ushered everyone else to their seats I was given the opportunity to observe the map in which the battle was about to take place.
This particular map was a small to mid-size map with a few buildings littered around the edges. In the middle of the map was a trench with choke points at either end. What was most impressive about the map design was how quickly it was to learn the layout after a few minutes.
Once we were thrown into a game, we were offered two choices of weapons, the M1 Garand and the Thompson, two staple WWII weapons we’ve used many times in various WWII shooters. I of course opted for the Thompson, given the size of the map and the various little corners and corridors present. There was a tactical decision here, c’mon, I know what I’m doing…
Being thrown in the game it took me a few seconds to find my feet. About thirty-seconds in I crossed paths with another player and began to fill them with lead… only to discover that this was, in fact, one of my team mates. It’s going good so far. Once I realised what the Nazi character model looked like that’s when things began to get serious.
Once I got over this little snafu I’ll toot my own horn a little bit here and say that I was killing it. Sitting firmly in the top two of all players I was popping off the enemy left, right, and centre. That’s when I quickly found myself competing with another journo sitting next to me. Charlie versus Delta. I had 17 kills, he had 19, then I caught up with his 19 until he shot up to 25, eventually the round ended and we finished in the top two, I with 22 kills, him with 29.
My thoughts on the game? Seeing how this was an incredibly early alpha game, it’s difficult to judge. The game itself was incredibly enjoyable. It was basic, but that’s what I love about classic games like Call of Duty 1-3. There were no bells and whistles, no stupid class configurations, no stupid perks, just you and your weapon putting your shooter skills to the test.
Visually, this early build was nothing on the likes of Battlefield 1, but like I said, it’s difficult and frankly unfair to judge as this is nowhere near the final product. This is simply just a playable alpha build for this event and is nowhere near a reflection of the final game.
What I can say for sure is that Battalion 1944 has huge potential to become the next big World War II shooter. Even at this early stage it handled impressively well, gunplay felt responsive and well balanced but at the same time it was a challenge.
Although it’s far too soon to judge, Battalion 1944 is going to be a killer game, I can just feel it.