We’ve been hard at work at Bulkhead Interactive ever since this awesome Kickstarter community of over 10,000 backers pledged your support to the Development of Battalion 1944 back in March. With the Christmas holidays coming, we’re incredibly excited with the year to come as development ramps it up an extra notch and we get closer and closer to revealing the new-look & revamped Battalion 1944.
As a small present to say thank you for all your highly vocal and dedicated support, we’re posting a development update to warm you guys up for the big reveals next year. We’re also aware that when we put out content there is a chance that our ideas and features could be stolen or plagiarized, so it’s also important for us to keep some cards close to our chest! This update is a bit text heavy but for those of you who really want to follow the game’s development there’s definitely something for you in here.
ALPHA, BETA, EARLY ACCESS AND OFFICIAL LAUNCH PLANS
So a massive thing that you guys keep asking is; "when can we get our hands on the game?" We’re totally on board with how excited you are to get your hands on the Battalion so we thought it’d be a good idea to give you guys an idea of what content to expect at each stage!
Alpha - May 2017
As you guys know, the Alpha testing phase is planned for May 2017. We’ve been having internal meetings and discussions about the best course of action for releasing and testing content alongside the community. Currently we’re planning on having ‘Alpha playtest weekends’. This means we’ll be having planned playtest weekends where we’ll all be focus testing specific features of Battalion as a community. This means you’ll be able to become a part of our development by helping us test different features of the game and providing us with live and direct feedback. We can then make an active weekly effort to implement features and improve the game for the next playtest based on your feedback.
For example of how this will work, the first week of Alpha we’ll be testing the community server browser, our user interface and 1 or 2 of our finished maps on official playtest servers to get feedback solely on the core gameplay, weapon mechanics and movement. Each week we will add and test a different and new feature of the game, testing new maps, game modes and features. Once we’ve received your feedback and we’re happy with the communities reaction to the core gameplay, we plan to move onto the Battalion 1944 Beta phase.
Alpha backers will also be able to boot up the game ‘offline’ for extra testing whilst our official weekend playtest servers are not live during the weekends. As a disclaimer, it’s worth noting all stat tracking will be wiped between every testing phase. This is so that when Battalion launches on Steam Early Access everyone will have a clean slate. However, we’ll be looking into how we can reward our Alpha and Beta testers with unique rewards for your early support.
Beta - Estimated - July 2017
The Battalion 1944 Beta will be a continuation of the Alpha playtesting weekends but will be more focused on official matchmaking and competitive play. It will also be key for us during this phase to focus test all of the ‘extra’ features of Battalion, such as XP progression with BattleRank and in our in depth stat tracking/unlock systems. These extras are to make sure that the raw and visceral gameplay is backed by an engaging system that keeps players wanting to come back for more.
The beta will also be used to test our competitive ranking system, which means the introduction of ranked 5v5 Search & Destroy. We’re also aiming to introduce our team based ranking system during the beta playtests to allow for fairer matched games based on your team’s skill rating.
Steam Early Access - We’re remaining flexible.
When we launch on early access, we plan for the majority of the game’s “base” features to be intact. At this stage the game will see it’s highest influx of new players, meaning all of the testing done through our Alpha/Beta sessions will be essential for a smooth launch of Battalion 1944.
Alongside the Early Access launch, we’re also planning to launch Season 1 of BattleRank competitive play, approximately a week after the game goes live! This will give teams and players the chance to battle it out on our official competitive servers and get that Season 1 rank and badge on your player profile.
The date of the early access isn’t yet announced as we have to be flexible with our launch. We want the game to be in the best state possible before public release, that’s where you guys come in. We’re aiming to head to Early Access in August, the more you guys play the game over those 3-4 months the more feedback we can gauge and the more balanced Battalion can be.
Console Early Access/Launch
We’re currently in talks with platform holders to secure the best possible launch for Battalion 1944 on consoles. These discussions are confidential with each platform holder, so we’ll keep you up to date with more news as and when it happens, just know Battalion’s best interests are our goal here and we need our console partners to be on board with what we’re trying to accomplish with Battalion.
Official Launch - To Be Announced
The official launch of Battalion 1944 will be a combination of our Steam launch alongside our console releases. The game will be a fully fledged product at this point in it’s life cycle, with the only content left to develop for the game being extra content such as free maps, expansions, seasonal updates, patches and more customizations.
With the official launch, we’re also planning to add a new objective based experimental gamemode. There may be chances for the community to playtest the mode before public release. We have no more info to share right now but fans of teamwork and objective based play will really love the new dynamic added to the game.
It’s important to remember that Early Access will still be a testing phase so things will change, just as with games like Overwatch and CS:GO they constantly update and fix features. Battalion will be a ‘live’ title that we continue to support for years to come, the game you see on day 1 of Early Access will come a long way over its life cycle; changes made will be made from the heart of Battalion, the community. Keep being vocal.
More release details coming next year…
We’ll be posting an update much closer to our Alpha/Beta/Early Access releases to lay out all the key details in full for our Kickstarter backers. We just thought it’d be good to lay out our intentions early for our backers to see.
BATTALION 1944’S MOVEMENT SYSTEM
Some of you have started noticing murmurs throughout our forums and our developer twitter accounts that we’re heavily focused on nailing our movement system. Our aim is to make Battalion’s movement easy to pick up but hard to master We’re doing this to allow competitive players to be able to practice their ‘flow’ when moving around maps and enable ‘trick jumps’ to heighten the game’s skill ceiling for the top levels of play. For example we’re looking at the benefits and detriments of strafe jumping, bunny hopping, crouch jumping air movement to make our game feel better to play than any competition.
A good reference point for gamers is to say we’re looking to create a blend between 3 games in terms of game feel and movement mechanics: Call of Duty 4 Promod, Call of Duty 2 and Counter Strike. Community server admins and modders in theory should be able to take advantage of these mechanics to create trick jump maps/servers which are both fun and useful for practice.
BATTALION 1944’S CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT PROGRESSION
The characters in Battalion 1944 have been coming along nicely and are going through their final visual pass ready for the implementation of the ‘war torn system’. We recently shared how easy it is for us to add texture customization to our characters as potential cosmetic rewards.
For example, here’s our hispanic male character with us switching on/off an example screaming eagles warpaint:
MAP DEVELOPMENT PROGRESSION
So one of the aspects that everyone is asking about is the core of Battalion 1944; the game’s competitive map pool. Whilst we’re still holding back on showing finalised renders of the levels, we can confirm the maps that are currently in development, which we’re working on right now as I’m typing this update!
1 - Manor House (Name not Final)
Location inspired by Brecourt Manor, players will duck and dive through trench warfare to flank the german howitzers, whilst also being able to set up sniping positions from within the map’s French barns and the manor house itself. The Manor House map is set on the evening of the D-Day landings, which is made very apparent within the map’s key areas (keeping that a surprise for the reveal!).
Manor House is currently days away from completion in terms of both art and design and will be shown to our internal and professional testers shortly, to ready the map for the Alpha release.
2 - D-Day (Name not Final)
A location inspired by the Omaha Beach D-Day landings, the aim of this map was to create the first ever truly competitive level based around the D-Day landings that actually provides a balanced arena for 5v5 Search and Destroy combat. Many other shooters have tried and failed at a creating balanced interpretation of the D-Day landings by giving the Germans the high ground advantage, shooting down onto the beaches, creating a spawn/death cycle. This is something we set out to avoid from day 1 when you helped us reach the D-Day Landings stretch goal.
In Battalion 1944’s interpretation of the D-Day landings, players jump into the fight just as the beach has been taken, fighting their way through solid the German defenses including MG bunkers and concrete trenches as players work their way to destroy the German weapon caches which are set up within a large Bunker network and a weapons stash within a local farmhouse.
The map is currently in development (aiming to be 60% completed by Christmas) and is also aimed to be shown to our internal and professional testing teams soon to ready the map for the Alpha release.
Map 3 - City Station (Name not Final)
This is our main city level which we predict to be a very popular level for competitive play. The advantage of having a level set within a city is the way that building architecture allows us to design open spaces right next to tight, well designed choke points allowing for player creativity but also competitive predictability of gameflow. All of the map warfare takes place around the central train station bridge, creating a focal point for the mid lane, long and short routes through the map to each bombsite.
The cities location and visuals are influenced by French architecture similar to the city of Montebourg. The map is currently in it’s final blockout form, with artwork commencing in January. We aim to release this map during one of our Alpha/Beta playtests.
Map 4 - Watermill (Name not Final)
This level is based on a French village in Burgundy. Our aim with this map was to create a familiar feeling basic layout for CoD2 fans with brand new routes/sightlines and visuals, creating a unique map with it’s own identity. It’s clear and distinct 3 lane routes make this map a perfect candidate for competitive play. The map is currently in it’s final blockout form, with artwork commencing in February. We can’t wait to show this one.
Map 5 - Upottery (Weapons Training Map)
Training map which is set in Upottery, UK. The air base is featured in the early episodes of Band of Brothers. In this level you’ll be able to test out all the weaponry in the game on our firing range and grasp the very basics of Battalion’s movement.
Many more maps in development!
A lot of the maps that have been already finalized have already been through several iterations and are unrecognisable from their original state. For every map we’ve made we’ve thrown another two away, purely because we’re striving for the best for competitive play. We also have many more maps currently being designed and are currently going through this iteration process, which is why more will be announced at a later date.
BATTALION 1944'S RANKING SYSTEM
We’ve recently been talking to our forum community about our ranking systems and getting you guys involved with development.
One of the massive selling points of Battalion 1944 is our ranking system, BattleRank. Alongside community owned servers, we’ll be having a matchmaking system which will enable players to track dedicated individual stats as well as team statistics from competitive play. This is probably the most advanced part of the game so far, it’s in a really good state and despite Joe and Howard discovering the real meaning of ‘elo hell’ whilst trying to design a fair and balanced ranking system; it’s looking great.
Unfortunately, our ranking system is rather special to us and is easy to steal and plagiarize so we won’t be publicising all the details until 2017. However, just know that we confer with ex-professional Call of Duty players on a regular basis.
This brings us to you guys to help us decide the names of Battalion 1944’s competitive rankings. You can still get involved in that conversation here: http://forums.battaliongame.com/topic/1691-help-us-decide-our-competitive-rank-names/
Players will be able to play competitively when we launch our matchmaking system into the game shortly after launch (currently planned for the beta phase of development). Season 1 of competitive play is planned to launch with our Steam early access release. This testing phase is vital, we guarantee there WILL be issues and we want you guys to let us know about all of them! We want this part of the game to be especially slick.
We’ve said this before, but we aren't just developers, we’re competitive players ourselves. This is why we’re focused on creating a great competitive experience with a matchmaking system and tracking stats that actually matters.
CHANGING THE PRICING MODEL
We saw a lot of fans telling us that the price for Battalion was to high. After a lot of discussions and debates with various different areas of the community, we’ve decided to implement a loot crate/weapon case system. This means we’ll be able to lower the retail price of Battalion 1944 thus lowering the barrier to entry. Multiplayer games live and die on their player bases, especially FPS games. We want to make sure Battalion is available to as many gamers as possible from a financial standpoint and a technical view. Obviously; we massively appreciate our Kickstarter community and we’ll always be looking for ways to give you something extra and make sure you’re always treated the way you should be. You can read more about loot crates/weapon cases in the next section.
BATTALION 1944’S VISUAL CUSTOMIZATION & WEAPON SKIN UNLOCKS
On the forums and in the studio we’ve also been talking a lot about the plans for visual unlocks and how skins etc can be obtained. There are tons of options for us in terms of soldier and weapon customizations. The current plan is that every time you ‘level up’ via XP you’ll be able to call in an air package (in the main menu, obviously not ingame!) which will give you 2-4 visual customization items of varying rarity.
These can include but are not limited to:
- Melee Weapons
- Equipment Loadouts (Remember: Visual Changes Only!)
- Weapon/Metal Variants
- Weapon Engravings
- Profile Poses
- Victory Poses
- War Cries (Limited to 1 usage per round)
- Team Emblems
- Player Icons
We’ve been doing the research and have been gathering references for our art team to create the customizations as well as starting to plan the systems for implementation when the game hits full release.
As we previously mentioned, something we’re also considering is giving players the option to pay a small amount for more loot crates or weapon cases etc. This is completely optional and should be seen as a donation towards further development of post release content. We’re aware of the awful stigma surrounding micro transactions as we’ve all seen great games ruined in favour of greed from developers and publishers. We’ve been having a long discussion with the community about this matter. The tradeoff of having an option to also pay for these purely cosmetic unlocks (which can all be gained for free without spending a penny!) is the option for us to financially support the game post launch with free DLC content for all players, new maps and supporting the competitive scene by sponsoring competitive community events. We want the British/Russian DLC updates as much as you do and this seems like a great option for the game’s longevity.
It’s worth mentioning DLC won’t really be DLC, we’ll just continue to update the game and add new content as regularly as possible. Just like Overwatch and CS:GO.
This is still an ongoing and open discussion with our community so feel free to get involved here: http://forums.battaliongame.com/topic/1636-loot-crates-weapon-case-drops-what-are-your-thoughts/?page=1
BATTALION 1944’S USER INTERFACE
We’ve been reading all of your feedback in our UI design thread and taking on board your notes. Whilst we aren't showing you the main menu user interface right now, we can say it’s looking AWESOME. The guys at Monolytic are doing an amazing job at creating a highly usable and efficient user experience to allow you to get into the game quickly.
We’ve nearly wrapped up conceptualising the main menu UI and are planning to move onto the ingame HUD etc. in January. We’ve been looking at all your comments and suggestions on the forums and are looking to implement the best ones into our new designs. We’ll be able to share more with you on this front during 2017.
FEEDBACK FROM EX-CALL OF DUTY 2/4 AND ESPORTS PROFESSIONALS (FORGOTTEN SOLDIERS LAN)
We’re also extremely happy to announce that we’ll be getting exclusive feedback from current and ex-Call of Duty players as well as current professional esports players before we head to Battalion 1944’s Alpha. This is to ensure we nail the feel and core gameplay of Battalion 1944 to make it a raw and truly skill based first person shooter for the modern generation.
We’ll be doing this alongside supporting the Forgotten Soldiers LAN, which is a Call of Duty 2 revival tournament in Munich, Germany. You can read more about the event here: http://forums.battaliongame.com/topic/1744-battalion-supporting-forgotten-soldiers-lan-cod2/#comment-18371
That was a long update. Whilst we won’t be releasing much in terms of videos or screenshots until our big reveal next year, we hope this was enough to satisfy your thirst for more Battalion 1944 news before the year is over.
As a final note for the year, we’d like to thank each and every one of you for helping development of Battalion 1944 become a reality. We have one more day in the studio before we break up for the winter holidays, so without further ado, from the team at Bulkhead Interactive we’d like to all wish all of our backers and loyal supporters a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!