Who would have thought to start World War 3 would have been so time-consuming and difficult? It's been a long time coming, but the sequel to everyone's most talked about war has arrived: World War 3. Fortunately, instead of being lifted from the pages of history books, it is instead the best kind of war and the least destructive to our future: fictional.
Fictional it may be, it is still grounded in reality, but unlike the many cold war stories of destructive powers raising with threats of war between nations, World War 3 places you straight into the forefront of a war between the East and the West.
Developed by Polish studio The Farm51, World War 3 is an ambitious attempt at taking on the large-scale warfare of EA Dice’s Battlefield. With criticism of Battlefield in recent years becoming too casual or priorities going in an unfavourable direction with the latest entry. World War 3 sets its goals straight. This is all out faction war, in large-scale 64-player battles with vehicles and the main focus on objective play instead of kill/death ratios.
For the most part, it nails the feeling of Battlefield. Unfortunately, for such a tremendous task coming from a small studio, it’s not without its issues, fortunately, many of which were alleviated, but for early birds, it was an arduous task. Upon its launch on 19th of October, the servers were hammered, resulting in a slurry of hit-and-miss attempts of connecting to the WW3 servers and connecting to games leading to waiting times of well over an hour or till your patience ran out.
Thankfully The Farm51, dedicated as ever, has improved upon things and if you were to pick-up now, you'll have no trouble at all at joining a game. Whether your connection is stable is another story, as there is still some lag and interruption, but overall the servers are somewhat solid. Just keep in mind this is Early Access and improvements are expected as the game is developed.
World War 3 sees battles erupted around Europe and the maps you play on are situated around Western and Eastern Europe. These include Berlin, Warsaw, Smolensk and Moscow. As development progresses, the menu will become like a situation screen, allowing you to see allied and enemy controlled zones. Similarly to strategy games, eventually becoming a tug of war match between the two factions over control.
When you do join a game, you'll want to stay as this is not a game you can jump in and play a "few rounds" like Call of Duty or even recent Battlefield's. There is only one mode available at the moment: Warzone and it is available in large-scale or medium-scale battles. Games last 40 minutes with a score-limit of 5000 - although this expected to change in the next patch. When joining you're given the option to choose between Attacking and Defending. Now, this could cause some confusion as you'd think it relates to which side you're on. In fact, you already made that decision at the very start when deciding to fight for the West or East. Are you an Attacker? Someone who pushes on wards to capture objectives? Or are you a Defender? someone who holds back plays defensively and stops others from capturing the objectives. The choice will provide additional points in whichever you choose.
While Battlefield has a ticket-system and capture points, WW3 leaves out the tickets and has you capturing points and holding them as long as possible. Simple as that may be, success is only won by an effective team. Failure to defend, capture or try to be a one-man army will only result in seeing an overwhelming opposition lead. This is something has plagued Battlefield for many years and it’s the same here leaving you feeling bitter, especially since matches take around 40 minutes to complete. Of course, you can always leave and try another game, but with quick-match being the most optimal option to join a game, it can be very hit and miss. Don't get me wrong though, even the smallest difference can have the biggest effect, so you can still turn things around. It's just unfortunate that people's mindset can still resort to "oh we're losing, I'm going to quit".
Movement is your standard affair, you can do your usual crouch, prone, sprint and aim down sight. In addition, WW3 takes cues from multiple modern first-person shooters including: running while crouched, sliding from sprint, rolling on your back while prone (similar to R6: Siege) as well as being able to manually lean left and right using Q and E. There is some jank at times, mostly from the occasional lag, but when not, the animation is smooth and realistic, but occasionally models do clip through environments and sometimes stick, but it’s nothing that refinement wouldn’t resolve.
When it comes to combat, it’s much in the same vein as Battlefield. There is bullet drop and trajectory, with weapons feeling weighty and accurate. The downside, the same can’t be said for the weapon sounds, which are rather pitiful in comparison to astonishing realistic effects found in DICE’s franchise, still, they pack a punch and there’s enough awareness to know where shots are coming from, whether close by or at distance.
Enemies can drop quickly, depending on range and where you hit and the time to kill is adequate, being not too spongy, but neither too quick. This gives you ample time to survive a firefight and get plenty of shots into the opposition. Just be careful of your shots as friendly fire is on and is by design. When killed, you don’t see where the shot came from, but you are informed of who killed you, what weapon it was and a body outline showing where you were shot and what was the killing blow.
As you play, capturing and/or defending objectives, killing and assisting in any way you can, whether it be providing health or ammo via equipment, you earn Battle Points. You could call these your Scorestreaks - yes, just like Call of Duty. These are customisable abilities that allow you bring in UAVs, jammers, vehicles (drones, quads, APCs and tanks) and firepower in the form of missile barrages, bombing runs and more. Each requires a specific amount of Battle Points to earn, with UAV costing 700 to 3000 for Tanks and airstrikes so spend wisely.
In order to protect yourself, what WW3 does new is, and is something I’d like to see more in games, the realistic use of armour. Each soldier has body armour and a helmet for protection. These vary, from level 2 to 3 body armour made from the standard HDPE (high-density polyethylene), but can be changed to ceramic and steel. Each offers a varying amount of absorption at the cost of weight. Deciding to kit out in full will affect your movement speed greatly, and this shows on your soldiers kit as either light, medium and heavy.
Following on from this, customisation is by far one of the most extensive I’ve seen in a modern shooter. Think Battlefield and Call of Duty with their range of sights, grips and camo and crank it up to 11. It’s almost overwhelming at first, with a wide range of weapons at your disposal from assault rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns, handguns varying from different nations. You can extensively customise every aspect of your rifle: scope, canted-sights, magnified sights, barrel length, handguard, grip, sight rail, ammo clip look and size as well as a range of stocks, muzzle brakes, suppressors or a flashlight and laser; or just laser-sights, so many laser-sights, the choice is up to you. There is so much customisation it’s a game in itself. It’s all personal choice with little limitation, some parts aren’t always compatible, but aside from this, you can create a weapon so unique to you that it’s unlikely no two players will carry the same, aside from the base weapon.
This too carries onto your soldier, gadgets, vehicles and strikes. With uniforms, camo from a long list of nations available as well as choice look of the soldier’s helmet, voice (British, American, Russian, German etc.). A selection of grenades and gadgets including health packs, ammo kits and anti-tank weaponry. As for the vehicles and strikes these can be customised as well, not so much as the weapons, but you can still change UAVs to higher-grade machines with longer/wider ranges, artillery ammo types with high-explosives, anti-tank and armoured vehicles can also have different ammo types and with tanks allowing you change their barrel and chassis.
Visually, WW3 is pretty impressive. Again, don’t expect anything of likes of the DICE’s Frostbite Engine prowess, but the games use of the Unreal Engine 4 is impressive. Models, environments and the weapons themselves in the aforementioned customisation screen are highly detailed. There is some muddied texture work here and there, but this seems common among UE4 titles. Fortunately, there is nothing standing that detracts from the experience and at times you will be forgiven to stand in awe at the ruined and battle-torn remnants of each city, whether it be swept in heavy rain in Berlin or whiteout from a snowstorm in Moscow.
Is it worth jumping now during its Early Access? Well, yes and no. Despite the crushing blow the game had at launch with Steam reviewers panning it for its opening issues. The developers have pressed on and if bought now at the price of £24, you’ll be in for a good time. However, work still needs to be done and is still in Early Access after all, nonetheless, when things go right the potential is certainly there.
In recent years, very few games have been able to capitalise off of Battlefield and with the new direction that franchise is going, World War 3 stands an excellent chance and opportunity to fill the modern military shooter void, that myself and many Battlefield fans have been clamouring for. One thing is for sure, they released it too soon, strategic mind you, taking advantage of Battlefield V’s delay, but it was certainly at a cost, hurting people's impressions. Now though, give time and Farm51 patience, it is a much smaller studio after all, and it most certainly has the potential to become one of the greats.