Battalion: 1944 is the best thing you’ll get for 100 bucks this year

Do you long for simpler times? Everything is so complicated now with bitcoins and blu-rays and heat-sensing holographic eyepieces.

Do you yearn for the feel of oiled metal in your hands, clanking rudely as you mow down Nazi scum like your douchebag neighbour Roger’s petunias?

After years of feeling like nobody had heard our collective cry for the antique and elegant, an indie studio called Bulkhead Interactive has taken up the mantle with Battalion 1944 – the best damn 100 bucks you’ll ever spend.

The team at Bulkhead set out with a simple goal – they wanted to play Call of Duty 2 with good graphics. Not quite, but that’s also not all that far from the truth.

Battalion 1944 takes the best of classic WWII multiplayer shooters like United Offensive, Call of Duty 2 and Enemy Territory and rolls them into a polished package that has all the trappings of 2018 alongside the things from 2005 you wish you still had – like a dedicated server browser.

It’s an Early Access game that released just two days ago, so expect a few niggles. For R105 though, it may be the best purchase you make this year.

Battalion is aiming to be a proper esport from the beginning as well, with ranked play launching on 8 February. The ranked mode borrows a lot from CS:GO and its predecessors, playing out essentially as a 5v5 Search and Destroy, the likes of which you’ve no doubt seen before if you’re into competitive shooters.

They add an interesting twist, however – every player that’s killed drops a role card on the ground (Marksman, Heavy Gunner, SMG dude, etc.). Which cards you pick up dictate which roles you’ll have access to the next round. For example, if your team collects two SMG cards, you’ll have two SMG roles available in the next round.

Roles then are a limited resource and have their own sort of economy. Each side does also have a default role which is always accessible, so you’ll never be at a major disadvantage. Other “features” are nowhere to be seen. There’s no killstreak rewards, no unlocking of weapons, no custom loadouts. It’s stripped down and fiercely competitive, and that’s just the way Bulkhead wants it.

“Bring a shotgun next time, Yankee scum, maybe then you’ll hit something.”

Graphically it’s not going to melt anyone’s PC, and the team seem to have done a good job of treading the line between making it accessible to many (as all good esports are) while simultaneously giving the whole thing a decent coat of paint that makes it pleasant to look at – especially with the settings dialed up.

It runs on the Unreal Engine and so far my experience has been smooth as butter, with excellent gunplay and no glaring issues with hit registration – a good first outing for a game that’s just launched via Early Access.

Silly bugs do emerge, however – an enemy breakdancing behind a box, a mouse sensitivity scroller that shits the bed if you choose anything that isn’t a round number, the occasional unexpected crash to desktop.

Still, it’s clear that Bulkhead wanted to make a good first impression, and while the game may have a few oddities and issues, the core gameplay feels well put together and the gunplay is excellent.

It’s the kind of game that makes you want to get better at it, and just like CS:GO it’s clear some time is going to need to be spent learning the nuances of the maps in order to play competitively.

This has all the ingredients necessary to stage a comeback for the competitive wargame, and me and my clanking carbine can’t bloody wait.

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