EGX has been taking place these past few days and there has been so much going on that it’s been completely impossible to see it all. Luckily we did manage to find time to get to the Square Enix Collective stand where we had a chance to chat with one of the developers working on Battalion 1944, Bulkhead Interactive’s upcoming online shooter.
Gaming Respawn: What would you say makes Battalion 1944 different from other World War 2 period shooters?
Developers: “I guess it depends what you mean by different, or other period shooters because you’ve got a new one like COD World War 2 coming out which is looking really cool on console, I’m probably about 10 hours into that now, it’s really good. Then you look at the older ones and what makes us different to Call of Duty 2 and Enemy territory? The answer is not a lot, in gameplay, not a lot. When you look at what those games are missing it’s all in matchmaking, friend systems, online play, the rankings, the competitive game-modes, the competitive focus, [we want to] bring the Counter-Strike feel to those games.
So gameplay? Not a ton, but I think that’s better. In terms of game-mode and competitive side? A lot. We’re bringing Counter-Strike to old school shooters. That’s what’s different really.”
GR: Do you think the fact that you haven’t included a token single-player game mode has meant that you can have a much tighter focus on the competitive gameplay?
Dev: “It doesn’t really work like that. We didn’t feel like we could do single-player better than other people, but I think we can do multiplayer Battalion a lot better than other people could. So we just focused on that, gave it our time of day, and put a lot of effort behind that. When people think about Call of Duty 2 back in the day, they think about their multiplayer experience, so team death match, CTF. They don’t think about that single-player campaign where you’re just shooting James Bond baddies and Robin Hood baddies and that kind of thing. So I’m really excited for Call of Duty’s single-player campaign and then for us, I think we’re just multiplayer and we’re really looking forward to it.”
GR: The single-player is fun but when you’re playing shooters you want to be online. People get done with the single-player in a few hours and then it’s hundreds of hours into the online so it’s clearly a good place to focus on, people will be playing for a long time…
Dev: “The way we look at it is sort of penny per minute, or penny per hour. So if a game costs X amount of money then how much of your life is it worth? That’s what we’re competing for, ultimately it’s peoples’ lives and time. For us, £10.99 for a good multiplayer shooter is really good value.”
GR: How important was it for you to get everything right for the time period and make it historically accurate?
Dev: “World War 2 weapons lend themselves nicely to a really good games design balance just because the Germans would make a weapon, then the Americans would have to counter it, and then the Americans made a weapon, so the Germans countered it. They kind of have these natural organic offsets, so the weapons line up nicely.
In terms of staying true to the time period; things like uniforms, they were made to be camouflaged. That’s kind of annoying in a competitive shooter, in Counter-Strike they make them black and dark and you can see them everywhere. So we kind of modified the uniforms to make it work better. We haven’t found the exact formula for that yet, but I think we’re not tied by reality. Gameplay [comes] first because ultimately those things can ground you too much, they can tie you down. Games that last for ever, and anything World War 2, is stuck in ‘this is the way it is’ and it just looks real, making it feel real I think makes sense to me.”
GR: So you’re not constrained by trying to be too close to how things would have worked necessarily. It’s better to make the game better?
Dev: “No, for instance the iron sights on the weapons. The Thompson, the sub-machine gun, was actually designed in World War 2 to be fired from the hip, you never actually would have aimed it, so it doesn’t have great iron sights. We kind of tweak it a little bit so it’s nice and easy to shoot through. We have the re-enactment guys on our forum saying ‘Oh this is wrong!’ we’re like ‘We know but it’s kinda also right’.”
GR: It’s wrong historically but it’s right for the game?
As you can probably tell, Battalion 1944 is shaping up to be one hell of a competitive shooter, if you’re interesting in staying updated on the game’s progress you can go to the website, or even follow the game on twitter.
Thanks to the development team for taking the time out of their busy schedule to talk to us at EGX. Be sure to stay glued to gamingrespawn.com for even more EGX 2017 Coverage.