The World War 2 genre of gaming is one of the most revisited and beloved settings in gaming. Much the same as revisiting the past, Enlisted reminded me of a simpler time, back when I would devote an entire night to conquest on Battlefield 1942. Developed by Darkflow Software and Published by Gajin Distribution Kft, we can once again storm the beach of Normandy in Enlisted with MMO progression and that sweet, euphoric M1 ping.
There are a few things that need to be covered upfront so that when you enter Enlisted you will have the right mindset. This game is a squad-based MMO shooter, except your squad is a group of NPC players. Yes, that’s right, they are bots, but before you pick up the pitchforks, let me elaborate a little. Each campaign has you progress through historical battles, earning credits to enlist more soldiers and gain better equipment for them.
The rewards are handed out in a battle pass style system, and earning experience unlocks preset rewards and tokens at the end of the game that are used to buy soldiers or weapons. Between each game, you can micro-manage multiple squads to specialize in a selected category. Think of it as an expanded “pick your class” system, except when you are in-game you can pick an entire squad instead of just picking another weapon to use.
A handy little feature you have with your three NPC’s followers is that if you happen to perish on the battlefield, you can quickly take over a living squadmate and continue from exactly where you bit the dust. There is an extremely limited feature that lets you issue commands to defend certain spots or move to a certain location.
This is still early days for Enlisted, but they are sitting on a golden opportunity to lean into the MMO mindset and flesh out the squad-based commands. Despite the limited control you have over your squad, there is still a strategic mindset to be had in each match. Placing your squad on one hill to draw focus and then successfully flanking around and wiping out an opposing squad is simply poetic at times.
It’s not just infantry warfare you have to worried about, you can also recruit a squad to man a tank or pilot some air support. I was probably as talented at driving the tanks in this as if I was driving an actual tank, but the advantage was I wasn’t so easily fell by a stray bullet. Having a squad fully kitted to take down vehicles readily available after I was obliterated has a nice reassuring feeling to comfort the loss of my last squad.
While this game is technically in the early stages, my experience wasn’t without faults. I came across some random clipping issues while trying to mount my rifle on a sandbag. Reload animations sometimes made the gun stick at a strange angle, which was hilarious yes, but not very practical. The fluidity of the player movements felt a little sluggish, but in a way, it felt like I was actually handling a rifle, gun sway, and all.
I must say though, the hit detection is superb! I never felt robbed or pointed furiously at the TV proclaiming it was the game’s fault if I missed. Well-sculpted landscapes presented a balanced experience for both teams to navigate the landscape, and I never felt like one side was significantly disadvantaged. It made the game flow with plenty of giving and taking.
I did have a good laugh each time I spawned in at the main respawn point. A chorus of soldiers yelling excitedly to rush into combat like they are at a football match seems odd, but whatever they need to get you through I guess. I find this game is a happy mix between an arcade shooter and a realistic simulator, borrowing from both baskets to keep it fun and serious at the same time.
Consistent updates have Enlisted set to expand on its foundation as a large-scale WW2 shooter and I’m excited to see how they evolve.