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SimpleSimon

Simon reviews WW2 shooters. Hates all of them.

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So I tried 3 different World War 2 shooters out right now from a variety of developers and...none of them are any good. Where to begin?

Post Scriptum - Huge empty maps of boredom. Run for 30mins and die instantly. Squad and spawn mechanics are excessively and needlessly complicated proving an obstacle to any kind of engaging gameplay. I was constantly advised to "stick with my squad" who were very good at dying and not very good at capturing or killing. Yet when I decided to just avoid them and go off on my own I not only achieved more kills but died less which was pretty crucial considering the awful and arbitrarily long respawn delays killing any sense of pace or excitement. Around every corner the game has some stupid arbitrary rule for why you can't fire something or drive anything and I don't get what exactly the game is going for by any of this but since I thought I signed up for a video game and not the actual damn Army this last bit proved the last straw for me. Refund requested after 4 hours of play.

 

Hell Let Loose - Slightly smaller maps of more focused action. Sadly uses the same kind of "no touching" rules as Post Scriptum on everything. Didn't make it past two hours, refund to be requested.

Battlefield 5 - Excessively random. Game is unable to decide if it wants to be a simulator or an action shooter which is why some guns have realistic damage and others suck for no reason. Be a sniper or a bunny hopping sub machine gunner because nothing else is any good thanks to tired damage-per-second rules. Nobody makes use of teamplay mechanics since they're not rewarded fairly which is a shame because they're good ideas. Class system is excessively restrictive to gameplay and entirely needless. (What is it with these shooters and trying to control how I play all the time? Get out of my damn seat!) On the plus side has a single player component, but it's terrible and boring linear campaign sequences with lots of pace killing cutscenes interspaced by whack-a-mole action shooter segments that rob the plot of any consequence or identity. Has the most promise of the 3 with more content...still don't find myself playing it much. The only one that i'll settle for without a refund, but still kind of difficult to recommend. 

 

If this is the state of World War 2 shooters I think i'll be sticking to CM. If I were to underline a problem running between all of them, it would definitely be an overall lack of unique or engaging gameplay mechanics since all of 3 of them are anchored on simply copying the success of past titles. Conservative design permeates all of them. Post Scriptum was originally a mod for Squad, itself the highly mediocre sequel to Project Reality and both it and Hell Let Loose are functionally not much different from Red Orchestra and this would've been fine in 2008 but now they're just reskins of games I already played in college. Battlefield 5 is of course a Battlefield game...and may well be the weakest entry in the series because of a poor sense of identity. It wants to be a high minded and complex game with original ideas but doesn't want to get too far from its 2002 action shooter basics like health bars and cone fire and this is very frustrating because what could be a very fun and engaging shooter is held back by its desire to be "safe" and service fans. 

tl:dr boring bad shooters getting creamed by Fortnite and Overwatch for obvious reasons. Go play one of those two if you want to play good shooters. 

 

 

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Thanks for sharing.

The only thing I still run in this regard is ArmA II Operation Arrowhead with Iron Front Liberation '44 as a mod, Single player. Iron Front originally being a commercial stand-alone game running with the ArmA II engine. I ported over and modified ArmA II scripts so I can select custom random war environments in East or West front, on any map. Like random missions and enemy team and vehicle patrols, together with objective areas to where these units try to advance. 

Well, it is already old and clunky for people expecting to get top notch graphics and action-packed gameplay without effort.Vehicle pathing in towns is stupid, Trying to make your AI squadmates to do anything beyond their usual behavior is often frustrating.The amount of WW2 Vehicles and outfits is limited, especially for the west front. Other then that it is perfect for me. I don't think any company other the those of ArmA will ever produce something similar in the, let's say, foreseeable future.

There is now also ArmA 3 of course, and the unofficial Ir on Front modding team has continued there. I suppose they added all content from  the "Invasion '44" mod, and then some. Which is an interesting effort, but know that model quality is all over the place because of that. I never tried it  myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Agreed with most of this, except that Fortnite and Overwatch are good shooters. As a fan of Unreal Tournament and Quake series', I felt both games were a step backwards in terms of both content and quality.

I'd recommend trying out WW1 shooters, like Tannenberg and Verdun -- I've enjoyed them more than I thought I would. Insurgency Sandstorm is also fun, especially for CMSF fans. My favourite Battlefield was actually 2142, and I think they were all good up until BF4 (which should have been a DLC for BF3).

In ye olden days, not everyone had viable internet. So, even MP shooters had to have singleplayer components. This meant they had to develop AI, varied maps and game modes (like UT 2004). Now, multiplayer shooters have no need to develop AI, or any sort of asymmetric component. All they need to do is use the same perfectly balanced scheme, and let the players entertain themselves. Until the new one comes out and/or the community dies and the game becomes essentially useless.

Balance is a double edge sword, and a requirement for a 32v32 game. Both sides become reskins of eachother, and each map is essentially mirrored. As variance approaches zero, the game's identity does too. I've had this issue with Starcraft 2, as well. Once you've played a day or two, you've seen all that there is. The only time I play this type of game is when I have a squad of friends to muck about with.

Which is something I love about CM -- there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Whenever I settle into generic tactics, I find myself in a crazy situation with AFVs burning and pixeltruppen screaming in agony. Sun Tzu said something about knowing your enemy and knowing yourself -- in modern multiplayer shooters, you're already done.

6 minutes ago, Kevin2k said:

There is now also ArmA 3 of course, and the unofficial Ir on Front modding team has continued there. I suppose they added all content from  the "Invasion '44" mod, and then some. Which is an interesting effort, but know that model quality is all over the place because of that. I never tried it  myself.

I'm a big Arma fan. It's an engine for amazing community mods, rather than a solid vanilla game. I've recently been having a blast playing Drongo's Random Displacements Campaign with the IronFront mod. The original IronFront devs allowed the modders to use their stuff, as long as they reduce the texture detail. So, the modders are introducing their own skins to beautify it. I do wish more shooters had combined arms and high command interfaces.

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I don't know if Fortnite and Overwatch are good per se, I think they both have great ideas though and it can't be denied that they're successful. My issue with multiplayer shooters is just that your experience is too tightly bound to what everyone else is doing. It makes them highly unpredictable experiences and i'm not always in the mood these days for that. Exciting, but uneven. 

Another crucial problem is that player counts for most of these games are unreliable and will definitely peter out into irrelevance as players move on. I'm not interested in investing in a game that will essentially cease to function a year or two after release because the next big hit sapped out all the players. 

Bots are more than welcome in multiplayer shooters and reading that they're in Tannenberg is encouraging me to try it. I played Operation Flashpoint back in the day too, and found the ArmA titles to be not very satisfying. So is the community releasing enough content to make ArmAIII worth my time now? I will definitely look into mods featuring campaigns and single player scenarios. 

 

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3 hours ago, DerKommissar said:

I'm a big Arma fan. It's an engine for amazing community mods, rather than a solid vanilla game. I've recently been having a blast playing Drongo's Random Displacements Campaign with the IronFront mod. The original IronFront devs allowed the modders to use their stuff, as long as they reduce the texture detail. So, the modders are introducing their own skins to beautify it. I do wish more shooters had combined arms and high command interfaces.

Yeah I know about the Iron Front story and the blessing for the "Lite" mod editions. Not sure if you understood correctely when I wrote about "Invasion '44" content. There was always a non-commercial WW2 mod for ArmA 2, unrelated to Iron Front called "Invasion '44'". If you look at youtube video's of ArmA III with Iron Front in the past years, one can see all these Invasion '44 vehicles together with the Iron Front ones. Some are great, other ones look silly to me. There are also 3D models I have not seen before. The original Iron Front 3D objects were, and still are, top notch, so the bar was very high to begin with.  I remember the Iron Front M4 sherman tank has the casting serial numbers bump-mapped on the hull and turret; very lifelike.

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I play Post Scriptum sometimes, which is descended from a game named Squad which is itself based on a mod for Battlefield 2 named Project Reality, an attempt at making a more authentic and teamwork-heavy experience. Of course if you go on expecting a fast-paced shooter where you can hop in and out of tanks guns blazing, this is not your game. What's important here is not kills, it's capturing and/or holding points. In order to do that, the squad leaders and commander must coordinate their movements and request fire support. Armor is limited to specialised squads representing tank crews, and the experience is very nice. While there are no tank interiors, you still get access to rotatable periscopes, and the sounds are top notch. There is also a "logistics" section which is tasked with building fortified forward spawn points and building defenses around capture points.

I am in contact with the IFA3 dev team, and they will be able to release their mod with full textures sometime around 2020. They also plan on replacing every vehicle 3D model, which come from the original Iron Front and the Invasion44 Arma 2 mod.

Otherwise I occasionally play Red Orchestra 2 and Rising Storm 1 when I want something less complicated. Darkest Hour, the RO1 mod is still active and pushing out patches and features, however it has gone in the same direction as Post Scriptum.

I also used to play Insurgency: Sandstorm before becoming disillusioned with its lacking optimisation and its twitchy movement system. I much prefer the last game, Insurgency 2, and its WW2 spinoff Day of Infamy.

Edited by Frenchy56

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7 hours ago, Frenchy56 said:

I also used to play Insurgency: Sandstorm before becoming disillusioned with its lacking optimisation and its twitchy movement system. I much prefer the last game, Insurgency 2, and its WW2 spinoff Day of Infamy.

Me too.....I still play it every now & again, mostly in co-op mode with a bunch of mad Russians.  ;)

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I found Insurgency Sandstorm really disappointing myself. Technical issues aside...wasn't really that original again. Basically a mod for the first game with few distinguishing or interesting new features. 

One thing that really annoys me in these games is how trivial the differences are between all the guns. Minor adjustments in DPS, recoil, etc are often the only distinguishing characteristics and since most of these games concentrate on twitch shooting w/high lethality none of it matters anyway. 

In many of these shooters only the machine guns overheat...but assault rifles and sub machine guns with their thin, tiny lightweight barrels never do for some reason. Aiming with a mouse is so easy and suppression or exhaustion so non-existent that sniper rifles reign supreme and are invariably the best guns in any of these games. Nothing ever jams or malfunctions so things like drum magazines can't be featured for reasons of balance. Grenades, explosives, and all kinds of supporting weapons are either very weak or friendly-fire enabled or both so actually using any non-gun weapons is the path to a kick vote. Every gun can have a high-zoom scope with zero penalty of any kind for using it but iron sights are featured anyway...for no reason. 

Nobody wants you to camp...but capturing objectives often requires you to do just that. Nobody wants you to stay in back and support your team...they'd prefer you rushed down the obvious street killzone with the rest of them to give enemy snipers easy kills. The games wants you to flank enemies and outmaneuver them but most of the maps are constructed with narrow and restrictive choke points and invisible walls forcing you to run right into defenders ready to shoot you down. It's really silly to me how just about all of these games have so many mechanics and rules that aren't just arbitrary but actually at odds with each other and this problem runs across the board from action shooters to realistic ones. 

Edited by SimpleSimon

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1940 France, now that would be fun.  I think a lot of folks, especially in US, think France just rolled over in 1940, which is not true.  German suffered ~27k dead and ~110k wounded.  Someone in France was certainly fighting back to cause that number of casualties.  

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Ditto Poland...

Perhaps one challenge is that the French, who had superior tanks and more inf than the Germans) were using bad (WW1 based) tactics and suffered from an inability to respond quickly enuff to fast changing situations.   When we play that era we players will know better.  May be hard to duplicate the Allied errors that caused the collapse in the small scale CM scenarios where French tanks would be superior.  

 

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1 hour ago, Erwin said:

Ditto Poland...

Perhaps one challenge is that the French, who had superior tanks and more inf than the Germans) were using bad (WW1 based) tactics and suffered from an inability to respond quickly enuff to fast changing situations.   When we play that era we players will know better.  May be hard to duplicate the Allied errors that caused the collapse in the small scale CM scenarios where French tanks would be superior.  

 

Sounds right to me, Erwin.  would be fun at CM level of fighting.  French would have good soldiers & tanks,  germans would have superior combined arms working together.  I'd sure hate to meet a french tank if I am in a pz2 w a little 20mm gun.  Stuka attacks would even the odds I suppose.

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How would one make the game simulate "superior combined arms" when the player is in charge of all of that aspect? 

The only item that comes to mind is have a greater delay on calling arty for the Allies (which may not even be historical). 

In CM2 all commands are executed immediately - unlike CM1 which had command delays depending on unit experience (and IIRC national characteristics).  The CM1 command delays simulated the "decision loop" or thinking processes of units and their commanders (based on experience/national characteristics) quite well I thought.  Given that many CM players seem to enjoy greater complexity (eg playing on Iron and hamstringing themselves by using complex C2 house rules), it surprised me that command delays was not a popular feature and was eliminated from CM2.

In CM2 one can give inf units many negative qualities that affect their performance.  But, AFAIK not so easy to hamstring Allied AFV's other than making them conscript or green.  

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2 hours ago, Erwin said:

The ads always look so great.   Hope CM3 looks a bit like that.  

They're staged. The actual game isn't nearly so exciting and really isn't all that realistic either which makes me pretty sad because I wanted some proper Battle of France too...but it won't be very worth your time from Post Scriptum. Board games on the subject proved to be more interesting. 

 

2 hours ago, Erwin said:

Ditto Poland...

Perhaps one challenge is that the French, who had superior tanks and more inf than the Germans) were using bad (WW1 based) tactics and suffered from an inability to respond quickly enuff to fast changing situations.   When we play that era we players will know better.  May be hard to duplicate the Allied errors that caused the collapse in the small scale CM scenarios where French tanks would be superior.  

 

If the French had planned to fight in 1940 like they had in 1918 they would've done much...much better. The Allies always liked to obfuscate the history by claiming that defeat in France was merely a matter of "shaking off" 1918 when if they had remembered what they learned in 1918 Germany would've been facing a much more serious opponent. Allied armies of 1940 in France were actually inferior to what they were fielding in the previous war (the BEF was a tiny fraction of its planned size) and most French units were not equipped with the assigned allotments of weapons from small arms to artillery. (Almost no one had sub machine guns. French infantry division had less artillery than equivalent German infantry divisions.) Whereas the minor problems are often overstated like the British having lots of bad tank designs...which crucially ignores that at least they had tanks and most of what they had unlike the French could defeat German armor. 

The French Air Force meanwhile was comprised of more than 50% reconnaissance aircraft...the army man's dream. It turned into a nightmare though because around 1/3 of the available aircraft had no engines. A good write up for the Air Force's problems exists here...

https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2018/07/26/french-air-force-1940-analysis/

 

All of this is why I really want to see more games set in France because most people's image of the Blitzkrieg is still heavily influenced by now outdated and problematic sources like Strange Defeat. Much for instance continues to be made of the silliness of the Maginot Line yet the Maginot Line was the only thing that worked at all as planned in the defense of 1940. While it cost around 3 billion Francs the completely useless naval base at Mers-el-Kebir cost 36 billion Francs and turned out to be a much larger white elephant...

Holding out for a Combat Mission: Case Red will be a torch we'll all be holding out for a bit longer it seems. 

Edited by SimpleSimon

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On 12/28/2019 at 6:37 PM, Erwin said:

How would one make the game simulate "superior combined arms" when the player is in charge of all of that aspect? 

The only item that comes to mind is have a greater delay on calling arty for the Allies (which may not even be historical). 

In CM2 all commands are executed immediately - unlike CM1 which had command delays depending on unit experience (and IIRC national characteristics).  The CM1 command delays simulated the "decision loop" or thinking processes of units and their commanders (based on experience/national characteristics) quite well I thought.  Given that many CM players seem to enjoy greater complexity (eg playing on Iron and hamstringing themselves by using complex C2 house rules), it surprised me that command delays was not a popular feature and was eliminated from CM2.

In CM2 one can give inf units many negative qualities that affect their performance.  But, AFAIK not so easy to hamstring Allied AFV's other than making them conscript or green.  

This is more powerful than you think - totally bottom out the leadership, training, motivation and fitness values and you end up with a force that is almost impossible to employ effectively.

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On 12/28/2019 at 6:37 PM, Erwin said:

How would one make the game simulate "superior combined arms" when the player is in charge of all of that aspect?

Scenario design is an option here.....For instance in the France 1940 scenario the designer might create setup zones or reinforcement points for the German player that would give him real opportunities to outmanoeuvre the technically superior but sluggish & poorly directed French armour.

Edited by Sgt.Squarehead

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It'd be pretty in-character to depict a French defense as being heavily armed...but badly deployed with lots of line held by nothing except rifle infantry or no one at all. Lots of cases of French infantry companies holding a hamlet or village and prepared to fight for that part of the map but not very hard anywhere else. Meanwhile when the French attack it might indeed consist of fearsome monsters such as the Char....but then their infantry don't show up for over 2 hours and not all at once and they still have 1km of map to cross on foot before they can catch up with the armor. 

A good campaign would be to depict the northern charge of the French 7th Army to rescue the Dutch. They'd be better equipped and led than the units in the south but would be facing a deteriorating situation as the front began collapsing for reasons outside the player's control. 

Edited by SimpleSimon

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12 hours ago, Combatintman said:

This is more powerful than you think - totally bottom out the leadership, training, motivation and fitness values and you end up with a force that is almost impossible to employ effectively.

Well, if the above works to simulate incompetent/obsolete tactics and poor decision cycle then that could solve the issue.

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Good original post, thank you!

It tells me that I do not miss out a lot in the online shooter department.

Which is good, because I am getting too old and lazy to invest time in PC games anyway.

If I feel like experiencing some online action without spending too much time or energy, I just play a ten minute round of "Crazy Shooters 2", which is a simple browser 3D multiplayer shooter based on the Unity engine. It has the advantage of getting boring quickly enough not to become a time drain.

Best regards,
Thomm

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