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World War 3 may be the next great hardcore shooter

Or it could prove to be entirely too ambitious

The Farm 51
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.

One of the games getting good buzz out of this year’s Gamescom in Germany is an ambitious modern military shooter. World War 3 is being made by the team at The Farm 51, a mid-sized independent developer out of Poland. If they can pull off what they envision, we could be looking at one of the next big franchises for hardcore fans.

The fiction of World War 3 posits a near-future global conflict with the European theater as its epicenter. The team has announced realistic maps modeled after locations such as Warsaw, Berlin and Moscow. But they’ve gone a step further, promising an unprecedented level of fidelity in the way it models arms and equipment.

From the game’s Steam page:

Armor vs. Projectile

The most authentic bullet vs. armor system in the FPS genre to date, achieved through years of research and development with military professionals. Ballistics, a weight system, full body awareness, vehicle physics, and an extensive customization system all affect the gameplay in a meaningful way.

I’ve played my fair share of Arma 3, the infantry simulation from Bohemia Interactive. I can tell you from experience that authenticity isn’t necessarily the way into every gamer’s heart. Another in-development title, Escape From Tarkov, delivers a similar level of realism. But it also has a history of technical issues that, at times, can make it more frustrating than it should be.

The Farm 51 seems to want to split the difference between simulation and arcade. Watching its most recent trailer, I’m reminded of the original Call of Duty: Modern Warfare as well as Battlefield 4.

What has really piqued my interest, however, is the metagame. The developers intend to build a strategic map into the experience. They say that players’ performance in battle will impact the resources they’re given to either hold or take territories, which will one day extend to the entire planet.

In that respect, the game reminds of the ambitious Heroes & Generals, a World War II shooter with a similar strategic layer. It’s a tremendously popular game in its own right, although still fairly niche. With its ripped-from-the-headlines theme and a seemingly nuanced take at hardcore gameplay, it feels like World War 3 has the potential to appeal to a wider audience.

Expect World War 3 to enter early access this fall via Steam.

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