It’s an interesting time for First Person Shooters, at least concerning the periods they take place in. After the rise of the modern military shooter and the foray into more futuristic settings, we’re noticing a return to the past with Battlefield 1 and Verdun looking towards World War 1 and titles such as Days of War and Battalion 1944, going back to World War 2. Recently released on Steam Early Access, Days of War aims to offer a more classic experience, in the vein of the World War 2 shooters from the early 2000s.
A multiplayer only FPS, Days of War comes with two factions, the US and the German army, and nine playable classes. Every class boasts a different main weapon, the weapons also varying between factions. You’ll see the Mauser Kar98, the M1 Garand, MP40s, Thompson SMGs, basically the arsenal you’d expect. Five of the classes have limits as to how many can be active at once, which does make me reminisce about times when I was frantically checking Call of Duty 2’s class menu, for an open sniper spot. Recoil comes into play as well. Spraying and praying rarely works, apart from maybe when you’re using a set-up machinegun. Recoil can be controlled, to a certain extent, by dragging the mouse down, but accuracy and short bursts work the best, at least when it comes to the automatic weapons.
The weapon’s lethality is also a high point of the title, as it encourages careful movement and awareness of your positioning. You’ll want to minimize the time spent in the open as much as possible. Moreso, while the game never pushes you into working as a team with things such as squads, the best results can be obtained when working together. Going down a back alley, you’ll want a teammate on each side, covering the front, or the back, from different angles. When moving, you’ll want to avoid getting in front of teammates, as friendly fire is part of Days of War. I’ve had some very tense exchanges with players wielding bolt-action rifle where we’d pop out of cover after every shot, hoping our aim will be good enough to take the other down. At this time, grenades and rockets seem to be fairly ineffective. The former, have weird trajectories and are affected by a small explosion radius and a strange tendency to bounce unpredictably. The rocket launchers are simply too weak, slow and cumbersome to justify their use. That being said, the weapons oomph is marred by flat sound effects, some of which remind of pop guns rather than actual firearms.
After removing one map due to concerns about it being too similar to a Day of Defeat map, to which it was a tribute, we are left with three others on offer. While, from a visual standpoint there isn’t much to complain about, the game making good use of the Unreal Engine 4, the maps do feel like they’re not fully fleshed out. Size is one main concern. Playing in 32 player servers, for the majority of the time, I often found myself fighting on the same street, or flanking around the same route. While sometimes you may find a sewer route you didn’t see before, this can happen only so often. Fights take place in the same areas, which may lead to unfortunate stalemates and very similar combat situations. A map like Omaha doesn’t do that good of a job in its attempt to provide a spin on the D-day landing. Initially, US players get mowed down by Germans camped comfortably up top. While, in theory, not far from the actual landings, playing on Omaha felt like a chore, especially after getting into the main base, comprised of a small trench network and a large, open field. The other two maps, both placed in urban settings, offered more enjoyment. Two modes are on offer at the moment, with more to come. We’re talking about Domination, which involves capturing all five flags on the map, Detonation, which has one team aiming to destroy key objectives.
Upon release, players did complain about optimization issues. The system requirements aren’t the lowest out there and that’s justified by the engine choice. However, Driven Arts have already released hotfixes which, in my case, did help me gain around 10 FPS on high settings. Now, my framerate stays somewhere around 50-70 FPS, making for a playable experience. These issues don’t seem to be terribly widespread and, the developers have stated that getting the game to run well on mid-range PCs is one of their priorities in the long-term. When it comes to server stability, there are no complaints to be made. I haven’t had a single disconnect or lag-related issue.
At this time, Days of War has a strong foundation. Definitely capturing what made the World War 2 shooters of the early 2000s great multiplayer titles, there’s potential here. As with every Early Access game, some things are in a rough state, so, additions and improvement will be necessary. However, if the developers play their cards right and listen to community feedback, as they have already done in the few days since launch, Days of War could easily become a shooter that’ll satisfy that World War 2 itch.