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Can a World War I setting work?

Will the WWI genre ever find a place in the video game world?
Will the WWI genre ever find a place in the video game world?

With the story of Valiant Hearts fresh in my mind, I’m reminded of the complete lack of World War I and II video games available today.

For nearly all of the Playstation 2 and Original Xbox’s lifespan there was a consistent selection of World War II games. With Medal of Honor and Call of Duty leading the way, the WWII genre was the leading trend for first person shooters.

Now, over a decade later from the first Call of Duty, we have seen a notable drought for games taking place in that original setting.

For the most part, gamers today plead for the return of the World War II games, but almost all triple-A developers and most gamers as well ignore the potential of a World War I game -a nearly totally untapped videogame universe.

A World War I setting could break open the way typical first-person shooters approach gameplay. It takes outside-the-box thinking to make a game in this setting work, but that outside-the-box thinking can create a truly unique game.

So what could be the keys to making a World War I game work?

  •  Don’t focus on combat: Having combat is certainly important, some intense melee scenes, a few sniping battles, and use of poison and explosives in key moments could make the select moments of combat exciting, instead of the heavily repetitive point-and-shoot most games have today.
  • Make the world huge: The world should expand beyond straightforward missions and objectives. Make choices for who to help, where to go, and how to get there.
  • Have a cooperative multiplayer experience: Encourage working with other players to make gameplay decisions together that would change your single-player experience.
  • Don’t cherry-coat the brutality: Some of the ways soldiers persevered were absolutely gruesome and extraordinarily harsh. Create a deep emphasis on the despair and ways soldiers coped.
  • Tell the story: The stories involved with the war and the emotions that were involved are critical to making a World War I game work. If it isn’t going to be a repetitive shooter, it needs to captivate the audience differently.

What are your thoughts? How could a World War I game work? Or could it work at all?