Title: Battalion 1944
Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One (coming to consoles on a later date)
Version Tested: PC
Publisher: Square Enix Collective
Developer: Bulkhead Interactive
Genre: First-person shooter, Multiplayer
Early Access Release Date: February 1, 2018
had a certain amount of expectations to live up to after succeeding with its Kickstarter campaign. I’m talking about games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, and, although it’s not based in the same era, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Battalion 1944 uses concepts from all of these games, yet falls a bit short in its execution.
Early access means that the developers are still working on the title while using the feedback given from players to help fix any of its problems.
In the case of Battalion 1944, the agonizing wait to join a match made me question my life choices. I had time to think. Who could blame me? At some points, I’d be waiting over 30 minutes in a “skirmish” to find enough players to start a game. But it wasn’t much of skirmish. At times, when I was stuck in one of these video game hells, teams wouldn’t be scrambled beforehand. So the Allies would have five players, while the Axis would have one. We’d be sitting in this “skirmish” chatting with one another, because what else could we do? After all, it’s not like any of us could switch teams.
The same would happen during matches as well, to the point where the enemy team would have all five available players and my team would have two. Some advice for Bulkhead Interactive: Please allow team changes!
If I were to explore the biggest issue, though, it would have to be the number of users actively playing Battalion 1944. To put it into perspective, I’d be stuck in a lobby with the same players game after game after game. According to the Steam chart that shows its concurrent players, only 16,341 players have joined the fight so far, and a majority of these haven’t continued to play. At its most recent 24-hour peak, Battalion 1944 stands at 1,235 players (only 30 short of its average). It had a 52,152% gain at the time of its early access release, but has lost 48.23% of those players since then. Plain and simple: there aren’t enough players to sustain a competitive environment.
And that’s exactly the kind of game Battalion 1944 is. There’s a certain integrity because of it, too. You can’t just be a good strategist, but you also must be skilled at first-person shooters. I ran into my fair share of these gamers during my time with Battalion 1944… and, let me tell you, it was FRUSTRATING. I’d turn a corner right after spawning and be immediately sniped, as if a target was plastered on my uniform for the enemy team to aim at. No matter how hard I tried, I could never get as good as those I was pitted against. Serious amounts of skill determined your performance, and that made for a gut-wrenching experience.
No wonder so many people got VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat System) banned, because it honestly felt like they were cheating.
Bulkhead Interactive has done well to manage their community so effectively, despite there being barely any community to speak of at the moment. They’ve responded to the random, unwarranted VAC bans that players have been receiving in an excellent fashion, keeping their community informed about the nature of the issue. They tweeted:
Hey guys, we are aware of VAC ban issues for some people. We’ve made Valve aware and they’re looking into it now. As are we and Square Enix. This is not our Anti Cheat and it’s happening to people who don’t own the game. This will be fixed ASAP.
Although Bulkhead Interactive has done all it can for their game, remaining passionate about its success throughout the course of its development, the fact remains: there’s simply not enough people playing. And, although still in early access, the game is plagued by issues such as not being able to scramble teams, movement controls, and its lack of originality.
Battalion 1944 is basically the love child of Call of Duty: WWII and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. There aren’t enough innovative features to separate itself from the crowded bus of first-person shooters. I did like the usage of cards, though. These would determine the amount of one weapon your team could have. For example, if I killed an enemy, then they’d drop a card resembling the weapon they were using. Collecting that card would give my team one more of that weapon available to choose from before each round. Determining if my team needed a sniper over a utility weapon (default; didn’t need a card to use) meant strategically picking each weapon. Unique in its own little way, yet slightly mimicking the weapon load-out of CS:GO.
It sucks because, don’t get me wrong, this game has a lot of potential to be great. Although not very original, it managed to immerse me in the competitive nature which the developers force upon their players. Learn to be successful in the fast-paced gameplay or get wrecked. At least, that’s what I learned.
Unfortunately, Battalion 1944 may have a nearing expiration date for the simple reason that not enough people play, and those that did play (for how long, I wonder?)–but don’t anymore–claim it to be a “dead game.” I’m certainly hoping Bulkhead Interactive pulls out on top, because this is a game that could take the world of eSports by storm.
What do you think? Is it already dead after being in early access for litte more than a month?
Verdict: Battalion 1944 should be a great game; digressing to a style of first-person shooter that forces players to be competitive. Unfortunately, though, this title suffers from a low player base, a toxic community claiming it to be dead, and other smaller internal issues that can be easily fixed (i.e. not being able to scramble teams in skirmish or in-game). There can be success if the loyal base of players continues to help the game grow. On the other hand, new players shouldn’t get too frustrated with the learning curve; the skills required to win take time to master, but the payoff is huge.
Most of the time he spends writing, reading (anything from comics to classic literature), playing video games, and wondering when the next Elder Scrolls title will be released. Hopefully soon…