Happy Sixteenth Birthday, Battleground Europe: World War II Online!

wwii-online-logoOn D-Day (June 6), 2001, a revolutionary game was released. It was “Blitzkrieg,” later to be known as Battleground Europe: World War II Online (WWIIOL), the world’s first MMOFPS. Unfortunately, the publisher (Strategy First) forced the game out the door without sufficient time to test and debug the game. In addition, there were massive server problems three days before release. With that type of start, what game would survive? Well, this one did, but barely. For years, the game had improvements and fixes done in fits and starts, as finances would allow. Bugs were patched as best as they could be, given the circumstances. Basically, the game ended up on life support. So, what ended up happening, you might ask. Go ahead, ask! :)

The game (soon to be known just as “World War II Online“) is alive and well! Matt “Xoom” Callahan (one of the players) and a couple others managed to salvage the game when almost all the Rats (the developers, aka Cornered Rat Studios) had quit. They had the game on life support for a few years, but still operational. Those days are GONE! The community came together, contributed via a couple fundraising campaigns, and the game is moving forward again. Lots of old, badly patched “spaghetti code” has been eliminated, new audits are being done on major game functions (damage models, physics (flight, ship, and ground vehicle movement), ballistics, explosives, and more.

The basic (low tier equipment) game is free to play. There is also a “Starter” (up to mid-tier equipment) subscription for $7.99(US)/month and a Standard (full) subscription for $14.99(US)/month if done on easy pay. If you sign up for a free to play account, you get two weeks of free Premium access, so you can dive in and try everything first. Get some XP and use some higher tier toys. Let me tell you, however, this game is SO worth the subscription fee. For about the price of a movie ticket, popcorn, and a soft drink you can have a full month of gaming.

World War II Online is the ONLY campaign-based combined arms WWII FPS sim in the world. A campaign starts with both sides locked in battle over western Europe. Think if the Allies had won the Battle of France and pushed the Germans back a bit so each side had 1/2 of western Europe. From there, the campaign goes, REAL TIME, until one side wins, whether that takes weeks or even months. Then, after one side is victorious, there is a short (2-5 day) intermission. Then, war breaks out again! You can fly fighters, fighter/bombers, light/medium bombers, or transport planes (to carry paratroopers). You can drive armored cars or tanks. You can pilot river patrol boats, destroyers, or cargo ships. You can be a paratrooper. OR, you can just be PBI (poor, bloody infantry).

Yes, the graphics are still primitive (but being improved). The gameplay is NOT primitive, however. The physics and damage modeling are as accurate as they can make them. This is NOT an arcade shooter. One bullet CAN (and does) kill your character, most of the time. Lower res graphics also allow you to play the game without a top end gaming computer. The campaign map is STILL the Guinness World Record holder for the largest computer game map in the world. It is ONE, non-instanced (everyone on the same map at the same time) 1/2 scale map of Europe. There can be hundreds, even thousands of players (soon, we hope), all on the same game map You can literally hop in a plane in England and fly to Germany, flying over battles and dodging flak, as live players fight for the ground beneath you. The only AI (computer controlled units) are some anti aircraft batteries and guard towers/emplacements in army bases and airfields and around towns. Other than that, EVERY enemy (and friend) ingame is a real player, just like you. This is also not a solo-player killfest. If you run in on your own, without knowing what you’re doing, you will just pad other players’ kill stats.

These videos will give you an idea (well, sort of): :)

New items are being modeled for the game (at LAST)! New weapons have been added. Now, the Rats are introducing new equipment based on existing units already ingame, SPAA (self-propelled (vehicle mounted) anti aircraft) and tankbuster aircraft. Recently, they added PPOs (player placed objects) such as individual fortifications (think foxholes only above ground), sandbags, and the like. This is all leading up to entirely new game content, vehicles and equipment not seen ingame before. The game is due for a summer 2017 release on the Steam game service, so most of the attention is going toward the netcode, servers, and such. After that, the sky is the limit. The game is even going to be ported over to the Unreal 4 engine at some point. There are quite a few day one players still playing every day. This is for a game which launched on D-Day (June 6th), 2001, SIXTEEN YEARS ago. That alone should tell you something. The playerbase is amazing, btw. It’s truly like a family…a huge, dysfunctional family. :) Just hop onto the forums and you’ll see. Seriously though, the players are all in this together and support one another with a lot of genuine affection. It’s nothing to see a huge outpouring of well wishes if a long-time player gets a serious illness or injury, or to have players meeting up for mini-conventions or lan parties at the drop of a hat. When you sign up for WWIIOL, you become part of that family.

WWIIOL Website:

WWIIOL Forums:

WWIIOL YouTube Channel:

WWIIOL Developer Roadmap (upcoming projects and features):

Come join the party…err…fighting! Don’t you know, there’s a war on?