by James Toal
In a world where we have Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Destiny all vying for our attention, Bulkhead Interactive have been at work to hark back to the classic shooters that have once passed. You may recognise Bulkhead from their previous game, The Turing Test, which was a first-person puzzle game, in the vein of Valve’s Portal franchise. Here in Battalion 1944, it’s a multiplayer focused World War II shooter, and I managed to get some time with the Creative Producer of the game, Howard Philpott.
What made you want to make Battalion 1944?
We wanted to create a competitive World War II shooter, you know? We grew up on games like Call of Duty 2 and the Call of Duty 4 ProMod. These old style games where fast-paced movement and quick reactions were key to winning and overcoming your enemy. That’s kind of been lost recently with other games. I mean games have progressed in a way, but they’ve also regressed in other ways, and we wanted to go back to the way old games felt like how classic shooters felt.
Call of Duty 4 ProMod is a mod to the game’s multiplayer which limits perks and limits the number of classes that players can pick. Overall it adds a challenging experience to the game for added fun.
That comes down to things like strafe jump. Small little boosts in the game that actually made it a higher skill ceiling for players. You know strafe jumping yourself is classed as a bug? But we actually asked our programmers to put it into the game because it made it feel so much nicer to move around the level when you’re jumping around stuff like that. At its core, that’s what Battalion’s going for. It’s going for that old-school feel of competitive, five-versus-five shooting.
So, do you think bringing it back to a classic PC style will give you an edge against games like Call of Duty or Battlefield?
I mean, Call of Duty is going to do amazing things. I saw the story trailer recently and it looks gorgeous. I think they can tell a really great story. For some people, the multiplayer is still an amazing game. I don’t want to slate it at all because the animations, the sounds, it’s all really, really good. But, for some people, it’s not really what they’re looking for because, in the older games, they did things differently and that’s what we want to be able to provide, that kind of classic experience for players.
So you’re more focused on working on the gameplay, to make sure it all feels fine, rather than put loads of money into how it all looks.
We want to do both. It’s more providing that niche for the players who used to enjoy the old style of gameplay and Call of Duty 2 style of gameplay, so that’s kind of what we’re going for here.
And the level you’re presenting at EGX, the French Manor map, is actually based on a real place?
Yeah, all of our map locations are based on real locations. But, they’re only influenced by them, they’re not the actual location itself. So this is Manor House map, the layout isn’t the same as in real life. It was inspired by Forecourt Manor which is in Band of Brothers and loads of World War II films. So we actually changed the layouts to make the gameplay more competitive and more focused on multiplayer gameplay.
Another example is our Omaha Beach map. With Omaha Beach it was a very one-sided affair, everyone knows that. When it comes to our game in a five-versus-five match it wouldn’t really work, so the task for us was to modify what actually happened to fit the game. So for us, you actually start at the top of the beaches, rather than starting at the bottom, just as you’ve taken the beaches. So obviously, that all happened beforehand and you don’t have to go through that as a player, which makes it better for a competitive five-versus-five search and destroy.
Talking about the Square Enix Collective for a moment, how have they helped develop this game with you?
They’ve actually really helped us push the PC side of our game, so we worked with them on The Turing Test, our previous game which is a first-person puzzler. As you know, discoverability is getting more and more difficult for Indies. So first it was really important that we were able to let people find out about our games, they’re really helping with the marketing side on PC and really getting the game out there for us. And helping us be at places like here at EGX.
When can we expect this game to be released?
We’re looking at early access on PC at some point next year, but for now, we’re just in our alpha phase. We’re doing alpha weekends, it’ll be awhile before the next one. But we’re looking at early next year.
Are you aiming for it to be PC exclusive, or would you want to bring this to consoles as well?
We’re looking at PC first, that’s always been our focus and we will look at consoles later. It’s just we want to focus on the PC experience first.
Based in the United Kingdom
Founding date: Nov 30, 2016