First Impressions — World War 3
It’s mind-boggling to me that Battlefield 4 is almost a decade old. When the game first came out, Obama was the president in the USA, the UK was part of the EU and people actually cared about what games journalists had to say about things. For better or worse, none of those things are true anymore, but what’s even better/worse is that no first-person shooter has come close to being as good as DICE’s 2013 title. The four latest Battlefield games have all flopped (and no, you can’t change my mind about this), Call of Duty has gone in an entirely forgettable direction and there’s rarely an indie darling that’s worth anything. Thankfully, the folks at The Farm 51 realised this and decided to just re-make Battlefield 4 in the form of World War 3, a Steam Early Access game that’s soon to go free-to-play, and honestly it’s almost as good as the crowning jewel of EA’s collection.
If you aren’t familiar with World War 3, and nobody can blame you for that, it launched in 2018 as a spiritual successor to the ill-fated Battlefield franchise. It had (and, well, still has) the same-styled setting/guns/maps/gameplay as Battlefield 4, but the catch was that it suffered from serious server issues and had some now-forgotten controversies originally. The developers ultimately pulled the game from Steam to address those things, and now that it’s for sale again, the game is pretty great.
Like in Battlefield 4, each match throws you into a 20v20 conquest on a decently-sized map that’s full of usable vehicles, angry 13-year-olds and flags that need to be captured. You kill enemies in the first person with customisable weapons, use gadgets to heal yourself and resupply ammo, and can earn scorestreaks throughout the match by playing the objective. Then, at the end of each 20-ish minute long round, you level up to unlock even more weapons/gadgets/scorestreaks and repeat the process ad infinitum.
And all this is, simply put, fun. The gunplay has the perfect amount of jank to make it slightly more realistic than Call of Duty, vehicles handle well, movement is fluid and the time to kill is almost perfect. There are tons of customisation options to keep you playing, including a Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2019-esque gunsmith and a soon-to-be-added in-depth character creator, the maps all flow well and it’s technically a perfectly acceptable game.
And, honestly, there isn’t much more to say about the title than that. It does lack some of Battlefield 4’s features, mind. Chief among them is the fact that there’s no environmental destruction, and there also aren’t any planes/helicopters/boats to make use of. The current map selection is, in addition, a bit lacking compared to the 30-odd maps that were added to Battlefield 4 over its life cycle, and there aren’t any strange weapons to shoot your foes with right now.
But, at the end of the day, none of these things affect the overall experience. What does, however, is that the game is still in Steam Early Access, which unfortunately is noteworthy. While the developers have long-since refined World War 3’s core gameplay to an impressive degree, the process of getting the game to its full release hasn’t exactly been free of problems. Right now, the game is scheduled to go free-to-play at some point in the near-ish future, and what that will mean isn’t exactly clear. The title also requires you to install an external launcher to play it even if you buy it on Steam, which has no real effect on gameplay but is certainly strange.
If you’re willing to overlook those two things though, and you should be, World War 3 is what Battlefield 2042 should’ve been. It’s quasi-realistic, the shooting feels great, and most importantly, it doesn’t try to re-invent a wheel that’s almost as old as gaming itself. The result is something that’s fun, not overly taxing on your brain and will definitely take you back to the early 2010s for better and worse. In other words, if you’ve been stuck trying to find a populated server on the now-abandoned Battlefield 4, this is how you do that. And by that, I mean that you should pick up World War 3 on Steam for the price of a few beers, or just wait until it goes free to play soon, either way works.
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