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Thursday, February 28, 2019

People are making a tactical RPG about World War 2... Yippee?


News by Matt S.

Long-time readers know I have issues with the way that the games industry (and entertainment industries in general - yes, you, Hollywood) present World War 2 as a vehicle for entertainment. There was nothing entertaining about a global conflict in which one side attempted actual genocide, the other side dropped nuclear bombs on civilians to prove how big its national dong was, and millions of otherwise good people died thanks to military strategy not being up to cope with the horrific weapons that were being developed.

If any of that says "fun" to you, then perhaps you need to spend less time playing video games, and more time doing something healthy, like learning about World War 2.

Anyhow, video game developers are often people that play a lot of video games but don't have a great deal of interest in history or the arts, so we get a lot of World War 2 games that are "entertaining". There's the occasional game that approaches the topic as a sombre reflection, but those are rare. In that context, I've got to express my concerns about the newly-announced Warsaw, but only because it could be so good.


Warsaw is a game that, as the name suggests, is about what happened in the Polish capital through World War 2. As the first country to feel the might of the Nazi army, what happened in Warsaw, and the subsequent resistance against overwhelming enemy forces, is a story that needs to be told. And certainly the trailer suggests that the game won't be the childish "light in the darkness" hero fantasy of a Call of Duty or Battlefield.

But it is an RPG, and I don't know how that's going to mesh with the depiction of a real-world conflict. The RPG format works for fantasy conflicts, which are more about exploring abstract ideas and philosophies about war in a nicely abstracted environment - the Valkyria Chronicles series is a great example of that. But a real war setting should be more focused on the depiction of death and the horrors of war in order to drive home the reality of what really happened, and I'm not sure a gameplay genre which is about treating your characters as abstract resources is the best format for that.

Still, we'll see. I'm certainly open to Warsaw being a great game, about a part of the war that's rarely treated well in a video game. I just hope that when the press release promises "Turn-based tactical rpg with characters of varying classes, and with skill and resource management in immersive WW2 setting," that's just marketing guff and not a sign that the developer is aiming to make this whole thing fun. 

- Matt S. 
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People are making a tactical RPG about World War 2... Yippee?
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