First Impressions - Six Days in Fallujah

July 4, 2023


Also on:
Xbox One
Xbox Series

Like in the old Call of Duty campaigns, almost every loading screen in Six Days in Fallujah is accompanied by a quote. Unlike the nation-spanning single players of that franchise, however, the quotes aren’t from Generals reflecting on the nature of conflict. They’re from soldiers (and marines, and interpreters) who fought in one of the deadliest urban battles since World War Two, and they generally tell you how horrifying modern warfare truly is. Like in the generic war crimes simulator/money printer that is the modern CoD series, though, these quotes seem woefully out of place, because Six Days in Fallujah is a game all about killing scores of faceless terrorists in 20-minute-long missions. The only real difference between it and the Middle East missions in Call of Duty 4, besides the specifics of its gameplay, is that Six Days in Fallujah doesn’t pretend to be set anywhere besides in an actual war.

To be clear, the specifics of Six Days in Fallujah’s gameplay are passively different from the likes of Modern Warfare. You play as a US Marine who, with the help of a few friends or randoms you meet in online matchmaking, is tasked with clearing out enemy strongholds in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Every match you play involves either methodically CQB-ing through buildings until you reach a base or setting up positions around a friendly AI convoy, after which you defend your objective until AI help arrives. To do that, you use normal-paced realistic first person shooting that encourages you to communicate with your teammates in an experience which isn’t quite as slow as Squad, but isn’t as fast as the likes of Insurgency: Sandstorm

Is it just me, or does that trash pile look suspiciously like a terrorist?

This is all well and good, but what’s strange is that even though you need to manually check how many bullets are left in your magazine and can’t suck on sand to regenerate health, Six Days in Fallujah doesn’t actually feel all that different from the oft-mentioned Call of Duty campaigns. There aren’t any cutscenes to watch, save for the ones that play when you start each match, and there also aren’t any bombastic setpieces to sit through. But you still rack up scores of kills on every mission, the AI’s accuracy is pretty forgiving as far as military simulators go, and you can make full use of a limited arsenal of very cool guns. 

Press F to pay the opposite of respects

This means that Six Days in Fallujah is in a bit of a weird place as a realistic shooter. It does have some phenomenal gameplay mechanics, like voice chat sounding different depending on your proximity to an indoor environment and a mechanic that allows you to walk away from an enemy shooting at you unscathed. However, what it doesn’t have is the mindless enjoyment popcorn of a shooter or the nail-biting atmosphere of hardcore military simulators. While the title is fun, and its core shooting is remarkably solid, it lacks any real selling point in a genre wherein most players are more devoted to their preferred title than those who play MMOs. 

Really, the only unique thing about Six Days in Fallujah is that it’s set in an actual war with actual guns wherein you play as an actual United States Marine. This may not seem like a big deal, but anyone who’s sat through the recent Modern Warfare II knows how dumb it is to fight in not-Syria with not-M4s while playing as a not-CIA Special Activities Division operator. The mini documentary that’s played when you first boot up the game hammers this home, because unlike its contemporaries, Six Days in Fallujah makes it abundantly clear that you’re playing through a video game adaptation of the experiences of people who fought in a real war.  

Or, rather, Six Days in Fallujah will be a game wherein you play through a video game that makes it abundantly clear that you’re playing through a video game adaptation of the experiences of people who fought in a real war. In itscurrent Steam Early Access build, there is not a lot to do. At the time of writing, the only way to play the game is an online co-op only attack/defend deal that can technically be played alone, which uses procedurally generated maps to add a bit more longevity to the otherwise content-lacking title. There isn’t a single-player campaign, nor are there missions where you can command AI bots à la Ready or Not, or even a simple survival mode. 

We get it, Taliban, you vape

This means that, sadly, it’s tough to recommend Six Days in Fallujah, at least right now. It has the makings of a solid game with its generally good gameplay, and its dedication to the realistic setting is absolutely worth commending. However, for its high asking price compared to its contemporaries, there are much more finished titles on the market, many of which also comment on the harsh realities of armed conflict. If you want to support the developers for ignoring a video game norm and actually advancing the industry away from its current insistence that wars only happen in made up countries, which you should, then it’s worth buying Six Days in Fallujah. If you don’t care about gaming politics, don’t want to pay money to play this Early Access game, or simply don’t enjoy the banal brutality of playing Call of Duty campaigns on veteran difficulty, however, it’s worth looking elsewhere until the title launches properly at some point in 2024. 

Six Days in Fallujah is currently in Early Access. Check back on Jump Dash Roll next year for our full review! 

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Derek Johnson

Somebody once told me the world was going to roll me, and they were right. I love games that let me take good-looking screenshots and ones that make me depressed, so long as the game doesn't overstay its welcome.