Old school-style World War shooters have made a bit of a comeback in the past few years. From the triple-A indulging of the Battlefield franchise to the indie scene producing authentic titles like Tannenberg – there’s a lot on offer. Enlisted attempts to make its way into that collection, but is it worth signing up to?
I can save you the effort here – yes, Enlisted is probably worth giving a go. That being said, it could do with a little more time in the oven. This is what the Xbox Game Preview programme is all about: you can invest in a game that has promise in order to see it really grow into something special. Not only can you support projects you like financially but it gives you a voice on how the game might develop. The devs here seem to welcome any bug reports or criticism and really want to make a great game. This has me rather hopeful for how Enlisted will turn out further down the line.
Enough of that – let’s actually talk about the game. Enlisted has you take on huge battles as either a member of the Allies or the Axis. In case that information doesn’t tell you what you are a part of, Enlisted is set in WW2. As such, it has slow weapons, muddy fields, and lots of death. The TTK, for instance, is very quick, meaning the time to kill enemies or die is very fast. You can pop your head out of the trenches for just a second and get mowed down in an instant. This quick TTK has both its pros and cons: it makes the gameplay much more fast-paced and leaves way for huge killstreaks or very cool moments; a well-placed grenade or incredibly accurate shot can take out multiple enemies if you are lucky/skilled enough. This being said, it can be rather tedious when things aren’t going your way. Respawning only to be immediately taken out can be a bit disheartening.
Enlisted does small things to keep you in the action rather than leaving you cowering in an outpost covered in your own bullet shells. Every soldier has a medkit that can be used to revive yourself when you’re downed or heal you when low. This means that the wild pop shot that took you down in the trenches might not be the end of you.
And then, making your way into the battle, you will spot the squad function. Squads all share some traits like certain types of guns and equipment and, after death, you can swap to any member in your squad at will. This means sticking to one squad and upgrading them through the upgrade path is how you get the most out of each battle.
Maps are known as campaigns in Enlisted and take place over one battle with varying landscapes and ideas. It’s quite nice running from a wooded area to a small town and down to a dock – it gives a lot of change through replays. Unfortunately, there are issues with scenery and exploits. For instance, sometimes aiming down the sight with a long-range weapon will remove scenery or grass – a huge advantage as enemies usually hide in the grass. There is also an issue with aiming from the water, as occasionally you just can’t be seen – making you incredibly deadly. There are lots of little exploits like this in Enlisted but this is something to be expected in a Game Preview title.
As well as this, whilst there are plans to do so, the multiplayer is not functional yet, which means this current version of the game on Xbox is more like a test of what’s to come. The issues aren’t quite done here though, as it becomes oddly easy to “spawn trap”. A well-placed sniper can essentially stay zoomed-in on single points and keep firing for tons of kills. There are some general balancing issues that need to be addressed too.
All this being said, there are things Enlisted does that are great. The guns – for the majority of the time – feel really good; quite punchy in fact. Yes, moving may be a little slow and some actions take far too long to action, but on the whole what’s here with Enlisted is rather good. Further, sniping a running enemy or mowing down three with a machine gun is endlessly satisfying, and the heavy tank is brutal, sending enemies running like cockroaches inside a PS4. Everything in Enlisted feels incredibly dangerous and weighty, and this works well in its favour.
It has the short term satisfaction feel down to a tee, but also manages to give a few things to keep you coming back. In the campaign section, there are upgrade paths for both the Allies and Axis that unlock new divisions, classes and weapons. This is a great little addition I imagine will keep players busy as the game goes into the future. As well as this, each class type has an upgrade path with even more to unlock. You earn squad points and use them to upgrade the entirety of your squad, all while developing some attachment to your squads, adding in new named members, changing their gear and upgrading their loadout.
It seems like there’s been quite a lot of soul put into Enlisted on Xbox, even now whilst it’s in the early days of Game Preview. There are so many tiny little details that have been meticulously worked on and will improve over time. Whilst there are definitely issues, there’s an inspiring love of the craft here that is hard to ignore.
This all means that Enlisted is a game I’m looking forward to watching in the future. It is clear from playing the Founder’s Edition that the foundations are very strong, albeit with some performance issues, graphical glitches and general exploits that have obviously held it off from a full release. As far as a preview title is concerned, this is how it should be done and one glance at the social media account for the game, or the closed beta roadmap, shows this is a team willing to listen to its fanbase.
I’m not just writing to a potential buyer here; I’m writing to the team, fans and anyone else who will have a look. Enlisted on Xbox is a game with a lot of promise and I hope it achieves that.