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Days of War is here to remind you that WWII shooters are awesome

AAA vets launch a spiritual successor to Day of Defeat

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Days of War, a WWII-themed multiplayer first-person shooter built in Unreal Engine 4, launches into Steam’s Early Access today for $24.99. It’s a throwback to games like Day of Defeat and Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and from what we’ve played so far it shows a lot of promise.

As well it should. The studio behind it, Driven Arts, contains members from teams that helped build titles in the Dead Island, Batman Arkham, and Witcher series of games.

Days of War ran a Kickstarter campaign not long ago promising a Steam release in August of 2016. Five months later, the team is finally ready to share the game with the public. They also have a surprise up their sleeve. Days of War, they say, will soon feature massive 100-player battles.

The game has two factions at launch (German and American) with two more (British and Russian) on the way. There’s eight launch maps, including classic locations such as Omaha Beach and Carentan. The team also has plans for additional French battlefields, as well as the Belgian woods at Foy, made famous during the Battle of the Bulge. There’s also an Italy map in the pipeline.

Driven Arts

During my first playthrough at Carentan, I actually had to take a minute and pull up the old overhead maps of Day of Defeat and convince myself that I wasn’t playing a direct port into Unreal 4. Sure enough, the maps were laid out very differently, but they still had that same great feel.

I was running from cover to cover, crouching and lying prone at key bottlenecks with a light machinegun, sprinting through the streets with a fast-firing SMG and lining up headshots from the shadows with a sniper rifle. The microterrain and the sightlines seemed very well planned out. The maps had a lot of environmental detail as well, with raindrops hitting realistic puddles on the ground and shadowy corners wreathed in misty fog.

With nine roles to choose from, including a shotgun and rocket class, there was a lot of variety of play with. But due to the low volume of players on the pre-launch servers I wasn’t able to get a ton of repetition in before things started to slow down for the evening.

I’ll be very curious to see how the framerate holds up under load, especially when they implement those 100-man fights. They’ll be one-off events for now, with the first scheduled to take place between Feb. 3 and Feb. 5. Other goals include dedicated server hosting and mod support.