Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!
Shooters set in the world wars have fallen out of favour of later. There was a time when it was the common setting for all the big titles, but recently it has been the modern day and near future that dominates the shooter.
The first major franchise to move into the modern day was Battlefield. Released in 2005 on the PC, Battlefield 2, moved from a World War shooter to the mid 21st century. However the title that shaped the modern day shooter landscape was Call of Duty 4. The smash hit quickly had rival developers follow suit and focus on the 21st century.
Recent announcements have hinted that it could be the turn of the world war shooter once again. Battalion: 1944 has been getting a lot of attention recently. This multiplayer shooter set in the mud and blood of WWII has exceeded its Kickstarter campaign goal. The title puts more emphasis on tactical gameplay and relies on a cool head in the heat of battle. Avoiding the gimmicks that have become more common in the genre, Battalion: 1944 takes the genre back to its roots. Although it has been an enjoyable ride, I for one am looking forward to swapping Gravity Spikes for a Thompson.
Battlefield has reportedly made this U turn also. According to an online German retailer, the latest Battlefield game will be a ‘multiplayer tactical shooter set in World War 1.’ The site has subsequently dropped the ‘World War 1’ from the description but for reasons unknown. With any luck we just had a sneak peak into the latest projects direction and this was not the work of an incompetent intern.
If the genre as a whole takes a brief interlude from a future setting with the World War backdrop there could be some unexpected benefits. Mainly, with no points for to differentiate ones self using fancy gizmos or attachments, developers will have to focus on core game play and design. With that in mind revisiting the World Wars could create some incredible maps and set pieces.
After a long absence, early signs are pointing to more 20th century shooters. This change of direction, acting in stark contrast to the zanier motif of recent games, could inject fresh life into the genre. While there have been a few releases in this genre in recent times, Sniper Elite 3 for example. It would be good to see some more AAA titles from studios like Infinity Ward or Dice. The World War shooter has produced some incredible moments. Medal of Honor: Frontline for example had one of the memorable opening levels in shooter history! If the past is any indicator of the future, reliving the World Wars will be very rewarding indeed.