Battalion 1944 Beta Impressions: A Standard WWII Multiplayer Shooter Experience
We started following Battalion 1944 back in February 2016 with the game's Kickstarter campaign, which, of course, was a smashing success. Although we were a little premature on the release date, Battalion 1944 was named among our most anticipated FPS games of 2017.
Fast forward more than a year, and it's incredibly satisfying to watch the World War II shooter finally nearing completion. A limited beta arrived this weekend (for those lucky enough to get a beta key), and now we finally get to dive in to the Second World War action -- and see what Bulkhead Interactive can do with this very familiar shooter setting.
Battalion 1944 Beta Impressions
Unfortunately, I couldn't ever get Arcade mode to connect to a server, which is where the classics like team death match, capture the flag, and domination reside. Curse the luck! (If we can get in, we'll update here accordingly).
But based on the Twitter comments, it seems like that was a recurring theme for many beta players who were able to snag a key. Many 44 players could only try out the competitive ranked matches, featuring a team-based battle to 13 wins.
Battalion 1944 Ranked Matches
Once you enter a Battalion 1944 match, you've got your basics like selecting a loadout and choosing between a standard rifle, SMG, machine gun, shotgun, and sniper. The general consensus so far is that the shotgun is pretty insane, although, of course, you have to be fairly close to your enemy to be effective. There's also lots of wide open space and plenty of elevated areas where you can get gunned down before closing the distance to use that shotty -- which I suppose is pretty realistic to the WWII setting.
The ranked map is bigger than I expected, with lots of nooks and crannies to discover and different paths by which to flank the enemy. Battalion's multiple routes mean that sometimes you'll engage the enemy nearly immediately (and popping smoke down the first hallway is essentially a requirement once the other team figures out where to set their sniper) and sometimes it takes a while for a big confrontation to boil up if everyone went different routes at the onset.
Match Objectives in Battalion 1944's Multiplayer
Since there's not much in the way of a tutorial in the 44's beta, it wasn't until about 10 rounds into the match that our team discovered there's an objective beyond "kill everyone not on you team."
Apparently, the main objective of the map we were able to play was to plant bombs if you are the Allies or defuse them if you are the Axis. But honestly, in most matches, everyone will be dead before that happens anyway.
There is a legitimate win path to plant the bomb, then wait and snipe when the other players rush in to try to defuse it, but it's more likely the three members of your team will already be dead by that time.
Having played quite a few rounds and explored the layout thoroughly, it's clear a lot of thought went into the Battalion's map design. For instance, there's a counter to the bomb/sniper win combo tucked away just out of sight. In a building across the street with a single window, the opposing team can setup their own sniper ahead of time to take out anyone entering the church to plant the bomb in the first place.
Of course this might change once Battalion 1944 releases in just a few weeks -- and other maps will undoubtedly provide other avenues for strategic planning -- but it was nice to see the map set up this way.
Some Issues To Address With The Battalion 1944 Beta
Overall, Battalion 1944's game mechanics feel solid and in working order, but there are a few odd design choices that could be stripped out upon its February release.
After selecting the option to join a competitive ranked game and the matchmaking process finds a group, for some reason, you have to also then click Accept within a very limited time frame. If anyone isn't paying attention and doesn't click Accept in that time, the whole match gets booted and you have to start over. I'm not entirely sure what the point of this "feature" is, since obviously, you want to accept the match or you wouldn't have tried to join it in the first place.
As for actually playing Battalion 1944, I mostly felt like I deserved my kills or deaths, but in a few instances, the hit detection seemed a little off. One time that sticks out most was when -- at best -- I grazed an opponent's leg as he was running out the door, but he went down dead immediately anyway.
Another time, I had a machine gun and was actively filling a small area with lead -- one where I knew an opponent was about to pop out and had no cover. He came out, all my bullets somehow missed him, and he took me down with one shot despite not being able to see me as well as I could see him from my position. That one didn't make any sense.
Graphically, Battalion 1944 gets the look and feel of the era spot on most of the time. For the most part, those crashed trains, broken walls, and cover tanks look excellent, although some of the basic textures like metal floors are a little lackluster.
The Bottom Line About Battalion 1944 -- So Far
As a closed beta, obviously, there's room for improvement, and it was disappointing not to be able to try out all the game modes. But on the whole, Battalion 1944 delivers on what it set out to achieve.
Matches have a lot in common with CS:GO and the game is sure to attract a dedicated following on launch. If you weren't able to get a beta key, Battalion 1944's early access release hits Steam on February 1.
While there's nothing revolutionary or radical here, Battalion's gameplay is satisfying and offers up pretty standard multiplayer shooter fare that will appeal to you if you've moved on from Rising Storm 2 already -- or just want to get back into WWII mode.
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