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.
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?