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Classified: France ‘44 Preview

Classified: France ‘44 Preview

You know what I always enjoy in a videogame? Dismantling the German war machine in World War II and taking the fight to Nazi scum. This dark period of history has been covered by many genres, although mainly of the first-person shooter and real-time strategy variety. Classified: France '44 gives players an opportunity to slow down the pace seen in other titles by opting for a turn-based combat approach. Developed by Absolutely Games and published by Team17, I had the chance to play a few hours of the game and write down some thoughts on my time spent with it. Let’s crack on, shall we?

The opening cinematic gives a good indication of what the game will be like. We see some still shots of hit-and-run attacks on German forces, with the narrator stating that your team are “an army of shadows, that strike when they least expect”, giving us a hint that this will be a more stealth-focused title. Bad news for the bad guys by the sounds of it! We’re then introduced to our three starting heroes: Willard “Jockey” Cassady, Tom “Crown” King, and Vincent “Rocket” Tremblay. These three men are tasked with parachuting into Nazi-controlled France in order to rally any rebels into fighting back against their occupiers.


The squad's first mission acts as a tutorial, competently guiding players as they stealthily take out a small group of German soldiers. Here you’ll learn the basics of combat, how action points (AP) affect what each member of the team can do per turn, efficient use of cover, and so much more. It never felt overwhelming, despite the robust number of mechanics, as each tutorial pop-up will be followed by a “now you try it!” portion, easing you into when you’re let loose across France later on. Controls are simple and intuitive, taking no time at all to learn. In fact, you can practically play the whole thing just using a mouse, thanks to the helpful — although slightly complex looking — user interface.

What makes Classified: France ‘44 unique is that it’s got a set time limit for you to complete as many missions as possible before D-Day to ensure the best possible chance for the Allied forces' victory at Normandy. You’ll start off with 65 days on the clock, which slowly counts down as you complete missions. What happens once this countdown reaches zero is, as of now, a mystery, as this preview was limited to the first 20 days. Time doesn’t constantly tick by, though, with each mission eating up a set number of days, you’ll need to choose carefully depending on how much time you have remaining. These missions are also tied to one of three factions, which will grant you incredibly useful upgrades should you increase their loyalty or help them out enough to be able to gain the upper hand in one of the 10 territories.

Although your squad starts off small, the roster of troops quickly expands, allowing you to bring up to four on a mission. Each team member can be outfitted with new weapons and gear, allowing not only for some stat boosts but cosmetic changes too! Combining this with in-depth skills trees (which branch off into different specialities) and you can really tailor your crew to your preferred method of play.


Speaking of which, the moment-to-moment gameplay feels solid in this early build, and though some missions place you into specific scenarios that force your team to go in loud from the get-go, or being allowed to sneak your way through entirely, you’re often free to choose how it plays out. The smartest approach is to begin a level and melee your way through enemies whilst remaining undetected. Get enough kills without being spotted and you’ll trigger an ambush, causing enemy troops to be unable to act for one turn, giving you ample time to pick them off in a full-on assault or get into better cover and regroup.

Each party member has a set number of AP, with moving (which is done using a grid-based system), using a weapon or skill, or hunkering down into overwatch all costing a certain amount. This replenishes for each character at the start of your next turn, so it’s worth using up as much as you can! Once all actions are complete, or you end your turn early, it’s time for the enemy to respond in kind. The AI puts up a good challenge, even on normal difficulty, so rushing headlong into battle was never a smart decision.

During times in which you’re not waging war, you’ll be presented with a menu screen with a number of different options. The main purpose of this menu is to select which objective to tackle next, as you’ll often have more than one mission available. In what order you tackle them is your choice, although pushing back German forces in one area may provide a more significant perk or buff than another location, allowing for more variety on subsequent playthroughs. Aside from this, you’ll also be able to listen in to conversations between the squad, which not only give you more of an insight on who they are as characters but also provide permanent stat boosts!


I didn’t want to bring it up, but Classified: France ‘44 plays very similarly to XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Hesitant as I was to compare this title with a classic of the genre, it dawned on me how much of a compliment it is, especially as the XCOM series is renowned for its fantastic, tactical gameplay. Sure, you’re not gunning down aliens here (arguably, you’re up against even bigger monsters) but the fundamentals are rather similar.

There were a few issues I came across, mainly stuttering cutscenes and the odd voice line cutting out here and there or characters talking over each other. There were also a few hard crashes, with an error screen display forcing me to close out and restart. Thankfully, this was never during a mission, so I never lost any progress! Some wonky animations were also present (bearing in mind this is an early build) with soldiers’ arms often bending at hilariously obtuse angles.

One thing I didn’t mention is the potential unlimited replay value the game has. The main menu has an option to create your own missions and share them online, meaning if the community for this game is big enough (and I certainly hope it will be) you’ll be able to tackle user-generated levels to your heart’s content! I’m certainly looking forward to playing more of Classified: France ‘44 and seeing what unfolds as the harrowing events of D-Day draws closer.

Mike Crewe

Mike Crewe

Staff Writer

Bought a PS5 and won't stop talking about it

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