What happened to all those World War II Shooters?

Call of Duty: World at War was one of my personal favorites of all time in the Call of Duty franchise. World at War was one of the last World War II shooter’s I bought and actually enjoyed on console. We have gone from a time when you couldn’t escape setting foot in 1940’s Europe to a time now when every shooter is set in the post-modern era. It is a time in history which will never be forgotten, with so many battles and perspectives still yet to be fully realized on the big screen and in gaming.

I remember a time when I was beginning to get sick of every other game being a World War II shooter, wishing for a shooter to be set in the modern era. Shooters back then had become stale and repetitive, so it was a welcome change from World War II to modern warfare and beyond. But are modern warfare shooters now suffering the same fate and stigma which before had brought the end of games such as Call of Duty 3 and World at War, as well as the true Medal of Honor? It’s strange how there is now a role reversal between the two eras.

Surprisingly, if a World War II shooter was now to be released by a big studio, it would be a welcome and refreshing change from the predictable titles we have come to expect from Call of Duty of late, despite the welcome shift from the era a few years ago. I wouldn’t think twice about buying it ahead of games such as Call of Duty: Ghosts, so long as it was a new shooter which explores theaters of the Second World War we are yet to experience. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking like that either. Modern shooters fail to grip me in the same way World War Two shooters do. Recent Call of Duty titles put you in a small group who somehow manage to overcome overwhelming odds to save the world from utter destruction. It is unrelatable, although I guess war is unrelatable for many of us, but that’s not the point.. World War Two shooters on the other hand are set in history, these events took place. Real men took part in such battles, and so the human cost of life is more meaningful than the deaths which occurred in games such as Black Ops 2 for example.

World War II shooters however may be their own worst enemy. In a war which devastated several continents and left dozens of countries in ruins, we have only ever been shown small glimpses of the war. How many times have we landed on the beaches of Normandy? The genre suffered by too many games focusing on the select few battles. Has there ever been a game which has focused on the German perspective? Sure they were the enemy, but I would be fascinated to play through their perspective of the war. Take the Battle of Stalingrad, it would be the perfect setting to allow players to play from both perspectives. It was a battle which spanned over 5 months and was one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare. It was the turning point of the war, but I feel that even though it has been touched upon several times, a truly great campaign could be made from it. There is so much left to explore still, a great opportunity for a developer to make themselves stand out from the crowd. There is more, much much more to World War II than we have been shown and most people realize.

And with the last two noticeable World War II shooters, Call of Duty: World at War and Brothers in Arms: Hells Highway releasing around 5 years ago, we are no closer to seeing a return to the Second World War. In fact, it’s sad to say that there is hardly anything in the pipelines, with the exception of Sniper Elite V3 which will take the war to North Africa. Unfortunately Sniper Elite V3 isn’t the kind of game I am talking about making a return. Publishers are reluctant to break the mold of the modern shooters nowadays. World at War sold over 11 million copies, proving there was a market still for such a game. I can’t help but think those figures would be even higher now given the current saturated FPS market contains so many modern warfare games.

I don’t want to go back to an age when all we have is World War II shooters again though. But equally I don’t want to continue the current routine of alternating between different future battles. Why can’t World War II shooters live side by side with modern shooters? Surely there is no need to saturate the market with the same type of game? Either way, I am hoping that the next-generation brings along with it some truly amazing World War II shooters, which will tell a breathtaking and captivating story. At the moment I am enjoying playing Red Orchestra 2 and it’s expansion pack Rising Storm. It is a great game, but unfortunately applies itself mainly to multiplayer. Sure there is a “campaign”, but it is virtually multiplayer with bots.

I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of World War II shooters, but sadly I’m not holding my breath that we will see such a title in the next year or two.

Would you welcome a return to World War II just as much as I do?