World War 2 Fatigue?

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Posted by aiomon (119 posts) -

I was probably 8 years old when my friend John put Medal of Honor: Frontline into the GameCube in his basement with me. We had just “borrowed” it from his older sister and figured it would be a welcomed break from the Mario Kart we’d been playing all day. I still remember storming the beach at Normandy for the first time. My experience with FPS was basically relegated to my cousin’s house, or friend’s basement until Modern Warfare came out. Some of my friends, at the age of 11, were finally old enough to finally get shooters for themselves.

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I bring this up because I feel like I’ve heard ubiquitous boredom for the World War 2 setting amongst gaming critics and twitter alike. Something I hear almost every time the setting of Battlefield V or Call of Duty WW2 are discussed is a collective sigh as everyone says that there are dozens of WW2 shooters already, and that the cliché scenes of Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan have been played out extensively in games. And while this might be true, has there really been all that many modern WW2 shooters lately? The last WW2 Call of Duty prior to the 2017 release was in 2008. That’s 10 years ago. Battlefield 1943 came out nearly a decade ago. Brothers in Arms doesn’t really exist anymore, and even Medal of Honor took a break from the WW2 setting for the 5 years before its presumably final release. So where are all the WW2 games? Aside from niche shooters such as Red Orchestra, there really haven’t been all that many until now.

The idea that the D-Day invasion has been played out in games isn’t necessarily wrong. I can imagine that all games set in the era open with such a scene. But to me the setting is nostalgic and relatively unexplored. There aren’t all that many modern World War 2 games, and for me and most of my peers (I am 22) the WW2 games predated our ability to buy and play FPS. I grew up on Modern Combat games - Modern Warfare, Bad Company. But at the same time media like Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers were part of my upbringing. I want to visit these settings in modern games. And I think that the notion that the setting has been played out and can no longer be interesting is rooted in a fatigue that an audience slightly younger than the average games writer does not have.

What do you think about the WW2 setting in games?

Aidan (@aiomon)

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#1 Posted by Blackout62 (2195 posts) -

Honestly I think you're misreading the room. We were all tired of WWII by about CODIII so then we went modern warfare, then future warfare, but we got tired of all those things and apparently fools really had wall running for some reason, so now we're going back to try WWII again with the lessons we learned. Hope you like Garand pings.

Also please appreciate this Extra Credits video explaining that we really have not covered enough WWII. There's so much more than Omaha beach. Hell, there's Utah beach. The comparable party at Utah beach with General Teddy Roosevelt Jr.

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#2 Posted by Charongreed (111 posts) -

I'm still completely burnt out on WW2. The problem is that it was the MMO/DOTA/PUBG, so everyone made 3 and just rode the generic train straight to realizing its a boring concept played too straight too many times. Saying you want WW2 games just sounds to me like 'man I like MOBAs, but they haven't released any lately!' Added on top that it's literally the most generic setting possible, dull grey skies, dull brown grass, dull ruined cities, dull green tanks, and the M1 Garand with the PING noise and 2 sub machine guns.

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#3 Posted by pappafost (230 posts) -

I think the problem was that WW2 games did the same thing over and over: Western Europe from American perspective. D-Day over and over, American paratroopers over and over. Probably because of how popular Saving Private Ryan and COD1 was. It's a shame because everyone got burned out on WW2, when they could have done more Russian theater stuff, North Africa armored stuff, Italy, Pacific island hopping with cool naval battles, and air battles.

That's why I like BattleStations Pacific because you're in an airplane or ship the whole time.

I think it would be cool if they more Vietnam war stuff, or even the Korean war.

It will be interesting to see what BFV does with the their single player campaign because it will probably be vignettes of a-typical stories that we haven't seen done to death.

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#4 Edited by TheFlamingo352 (377 posts) -

I thought I wanted WWII games again but so far BFV's setting is maybe the least interesting part of the pitch. I think WWII has a lot of nostalgia power, but without interesting systems and a strongly stated reason to exist, nostalgia's the only thing there.

If a developer makes a WWII game and doesn't have a good pitch for leveraging the "WWII" part, then I'm not interested.

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#5 Posted by TheRealTurk (576 posts) -

I think "burned out on WWII" is a little too broad. I think there are very specific parts of WWII that have been done to death. While it might be neat to see D-Day and Stalingrad done again with more modern graphics, those were done so many times before I wouldn't want to see that more than once.

That said, there are plenty of parts of WWII that haven't gotten any attention and could be really really neat if done well. There were never very many/any levels centered around the French Resistance, which could be very cool if done correctly (although maybe not great for the COD/Battlefield treatment. Might of be more of a Deus Ex/Dishonored kind of game). If they wanted to take some of the starfighter assault stuff from Star Wars: Battlefront and make levels around the Battle of Britain or Midway, that could also be pretty cool.

So there's definitely things they could do with it. I don't know if the developers who make those kinds of games are willing to leave their industry "safe space" to do a good job of it though. They might be too tied to the idea of big Michael Bay explosions and your character being the center of the universe make a go of it.

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#6 Edited by Strangestories (424 posts) -

Personally, I find video games about real-world wars disturbing so I don’t play them. Something about human suffering that actually happened being turned into a game rubs me the wrong way.

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#7 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

@aiomon: I think you make some really good points and do a great job of acknowledging that for your own peer group, World War II as a setting can seem like a change of pace. You've played modern and near-future shooters for a decade, you want something new. That's exactly how games critics felt a decade ago when Modern Warfare came out.

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#8 Posted by Discoman (199 posts) -

It wasn't until the last Call of Duty that actually did Omaha Beach. The first COD was the paratroopers and glider regiments. The Russians meanwhile got the Stalingrad campaign, some tank battles, and the storming of the Reichstag. The only landing was Pointe Du Hoc in the 2nd game. That said, if you include the console exclusive titles they did cover alot of ground, but they never really touched the Pacific War until World at War.

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#9 Posted by FrodoBaggins (2101 posts) -

I LOVE the world war 2 setting and wish more games were doing it. So many amazing, fascinating story's can still be told.

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#10 Posted by jrodrz (234 posts) -

That said, there are plenty of parts of WWII that haven't gotten any attention and could be really really neat if done well. There were never very many/any levels centered around the French Resistance, which could be very cool if done correctly (although maybe not great for the COD/Battlefield treatment. Might of be more of a Deus Ex/Dishonored kind of game).

Have you played The Saboteur? Kind of a generic sandbox game, but it focuses on this part of WWII and I think it's the setting that makes the game attractive, besides having decent gameplay.

Actually, Battlefield 1 was kind of refreshing for me because I did miss that setting for some time. My concern is that developers might ride the WWII train again (seeing that Battlefield V will be set in that time again) and that we'll quickly get tired of it again. But I actually like playing a World War game from time to time.

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#11 Posted by Hayt (1692 posts) -

World War 2 is an interesting setting and anyone who is bored of it is a boring person. It has massive scope and variety and is a historically very interesting time. I am more bored of modern "present day" shooters than I ever was world war 2. I dont want to play any more m4 shooters.

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#12 Edited by TheRealSeaman (133 posts) -

WW2 (campaigns) are still going to be boring because no game studio will dare show the story from a German POV, which would be more interesting than "look at us the good allies" for the 121st time.

Show us a German guy going from a typical youth to indoctrinated Nazi. Or women that fought for the Soviets.

Women with bionic arms from countries that didn't have women fighting? Hard pass.

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#13 Posted by Ares42 (4366 posts) -

I don't think it's necessarily as much about it being overexposed as it's about no one being able to surpass the best. It's the same thing as we've seen with something like MOBAs or more recently battle royale. Sure, there are plenty of copycats, but the problem isn't that they're using the same idea, it's that they do it with no ingenuity or craft.

If someone managed to make a game that captured the WW2 experience better than Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers I'm sure it would get praised to heaven and above, but doing that is an absolutely monumental task. I don't wanna play another D-day scenario again for the same reason that I don't wanna play Heroes of Newerth.

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#14 Edited by Onemanarmyy (4499 posts) -

Actually, i'm ready for more WWII. It's just that i'm not necessarily interested in multiplayer shooters. I would be game for another game taking aim at that Band of Brothers throne. Like Brothers in Arms did. Or a more strategic game that gives you a peek at the thoughtprocesses behind all those military events and how it changed the situation. What kind of bottlenecks were there and how did they evolve over time? What were the major events that affected the outcome of the war? WW2 games always felt like they just wanted to get you from big fight to big fight but had a hard time telling you as a player why it made sense for you to be at all those places apart from 'following orders'. Feel free to shine a light on less known theaters of war. Different viewpoints. There have been many WW2 games , but they generally all tap from the same sources.

Or more This War Of Mine type of personal stories that are taking place with WW2 as a backdrop, instead of the war being in the foreground all the time.

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#15 Posted by CrazyBagMan (1670 posts) -

WWII is the most interesting period for a shoot right now IMO. It was played out 10 years ago, but everything old becomes new again and I'm super tired of the futuristic shooters.

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#16 Posted by aiomon (119 posts) -

@therealturk: For sure. Not saying that mechanically these games need to emulate older WW2 games. I just think that D-Day hasn't been done with modern sensibilities and design, and there is still a lot of potential to explore the setting through the lens of games.

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#17 Posted by soimadeanaccount (628 posts) -

I was bored of WWII by the time of battlefield 1942. To quote Jeff, old guns sucks. The make for decent balancing, but bad for actually having to use them.

If it is a multiplayer shooter the setting doesn't really matter. If we are talking about yet another WWII campaign there needs to be some careful thoughts going into this, and the product will probably only serve a section of the audience, which I think is a serious problem for an AAA FPS with who knows how high expectations. I liked the Russian side of COD WaW, the tie into with Black Ops makes both even better, but let's also pretend the American campaign doesn't exist...

The concept of having nostalgia for a FPS with WWII setting sounds almost crazy to me, the memory I have when playing those game is wishing for a modern setting.

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#18 Posted by nutter (2289 posts) -

I never burned out as I didn’t play most of them.

Call of Duty 1/2

Brothers in Arms 1/2

Sniper Elite 1

...I think that’s about it.

Anyhow, when they stopped making them, I wasn’t heart-broken. I played the first couple of Modern Warfares and Black Ops 1 before getting sick of the formula.

When they started up with WWII again...well, none of them sound very interesting, so I haven’t checked them out.

I liked the Battlefield 1 WWI campaign.

I think I’d need a more tactical game. Something like early Brothers in Arms or Full Spectrum Warrior to get back into war shooters...they got pretty generic pretty quickly, setting aside.

Give me a new General Chaos, but set it in the wild west.

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#20 Posted by Sweep (10608 posts) -

I remember loving the original Call Of Duty games, and Medal Of Honour, and Company Of Heroes... all that good stuff from back in the day. It definitely felt like they were running out of ideas though, towards the end of that generation of games, and I welcomed the break. That was when the WW2 fatigue started.

I was actually pretty excited about the idea of these big franchises returning to WW2. When you actually look at the games though, it's almost as though no time has passed at all. They look better, sure, but there's very little innovation or creativity when it comes down to gameplay or mission design, and that's ultimately just disappointing. The fatigue persists.

As for the multiplayer, all the dumb perks and mods and weed banners completely destroy any enthusiasm I had for any of that stuff. I want to play dawnville with scopeless kar98's - I think PUBG has proved, if little else, that people enjoy those scrappy fights where you're having to make do with the first thing available rather than always being able to rely on having a fully modded laser-accurate AR at all times.

A WW2 battle royale game would be sweet. That's a great setting/weapon set for that genre of game. I'm surprised it hasn't happened already.

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#21 Edited by Seeric (338 posts) -

I'd prefer it if the industry moved on to a new setting that they play out to death before returning to something that has already been done endlessly. Every World War 2 game that comes out eats up millions upon millions of dollars and thousands of hours of production time that could have been put towards a game about anything else. Sure, coming back to World War 2 with stronger storytelling and different settings could be fascinating, but I can't say I really expect any companies to do that, let alone do it well.

No matter how many inevitable M ratings World War 2 games get, companies know that teenagers are going to be a huge chunk of their audience and said teenagers want (or are going to be presumed to want at any rate) plenty of explosions and an excuse to shoot the bad guys and be the heroes more than they want to have anything resembling a history lesson. It's a safe bet that any graphic imagery would boil down to cheap, repugnant shock value rather than any sort of actual attempt at conveying the sheer scope and intensity of pain, terror, and suffering that went on during those years.

At the end of the day, World War 2 games have always played fast and loose with history and primarily use the setting as a way of justifying the weapon/vehicle selection, so they may as well just go crazy with the storytelling. Add time travel, supernatural elements, robots, magic, and aliens. It's an alternate universe where World War 2 is now War Worlds 2 and each planet in the galaxy is a country. Take a note from The Producers and just turn the whole war into a musical. Slap World War 2 into Kingdom Hearts 3, I'm sure Disney could make it work.

It's going to be the same handful of weapons repeated endlessly with the same shoddy, sloppy storytelling which primarily serves to let teenagers project themselves onto the blandest of protagonists so they may as well do something absurd to make the campaign amusingly terrible instead of just terribly boring.

Perhaps I'm being overly cynical, but I think it would be best if game companies stayed as far away from World War 2 as they possibly could for at least another few decades. I hope the current efforts to reignite some warped sense of nostalgia for "going back to World War 2" quickly crumble into dust.

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#22 Posted by mems1224 (2511 posts) -

I was happy when the world moved on from WW2 games the first time. Old guns suck and so do old vehicles. I much prefer modern combat or near future stuff

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#23 Posted by FrodoBaggins (2101 posts) -

@nutter: oh man General Chaos was sweet. Me and my best pal spent hours playing that together.

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#24 Posted by TheHT (15875 posts) -

Wait, what? Isn't Cowaduty and Battlefield going back to WW2 a return to form after everyone got tired of WW2 back in the old Cowaduty days? Rather than a "oh here we go, more WW2" kind of thing. Modern Warfare was 2007, and we've had like a decade of not-WW2 after what felt like a good long stretch of WW2 between your Call of Duties and Medal of Honours and what have you.

I'm not tired of WW2 as a setting, but I'm still quite tired of video-game-ass WW2. That's partly what makes my ears perk up hearing what they were tryin to do with the new Battlefield. WW2 was fucking huge and complicated and insane and back when it was a big thing in video games it felt like we got the same kind of shit over and over (hence the fatigue). But there are tons of different places to go and stories to tell. also the more pulpy stuff like Wolfenstein (not technically WW2, I know, but still) or, well, the new Battlefield, is also pretty great and definitely not played out as far as I'm concerned.