It's hard not to think that Battalion 1944 is arriving a year too late to the party. Rewind 12 months or so and you've got Battlefield 1 doing the business for EA/DICE, with Activision and Sledgehammer quietly readying Call of Duty: WWII, a return to boots-on-the-ground action and the relegation of jetpacks and the rest of the sci-fi trimmings that continued to distance newer games in the series from the origins of the franchise. There's no Medal of Honor to speak of, and none of the other major studios are looking back to historical conflicts from a first-person perspective either, leaving the shooter space very much a No Man's Land.
Look back even further and the relative absence of WW2-themed shooters was being keenly felt by the wider community, and so in reaction to that in the last few months we've started to see the response, that being a number of smaller titles released that revisit various historical conflicts. A couple of them were really good, too. The best of the bunch were Rising Storm 2 (which is not only set in Vietnam but is built on the back of Red Orchestra 2, a PC classic), and Day of Infamy from New World Interactive. There were more besides those two examples, and they spanned different wars and different theatres, however, the fact remains that these games were all born of the same desire among shooter fans to return to the battlefields of yesteryear and move away from the sci-fi games that, for a time at least, seemed to be ten-a-penny.
Which brings us neatly to early 2018, a few months after the launch of Call of Duty: WWII, a return to form for the series that pleased fans to the point that, at the time of writing, it's still sitting pretty atop the UK retail charts. There's clearly an appetite for this return to historical combat, but with such fierce opposition now that the big hitters have returned to their origins, and with capable triple-I shooters nipping at their heels, does that leave Battalion 1944 in a precarious position before any real shots have been fired?
With that burning question in mind, we're not going to lie, our first impressions weren't good. At first we struggled to get a match, and the client itself crashed on more than one occasion during our attempts to get a game. Our initial retreat took place during the first hours of its recent beta, but eventually, after coming back later on, with alarm bells still ringing in our ears, we were at least able to sample a few matches and get a feel for what it has to offer. In a nutshell, that offering is snappy combat that takes place on tightly focused maps.