While World War 2 games have always been in the center of attention of the gamers, who had plenty of opportunities to face the Nazis in various settings, the Great War has also found its niche on the gaming market.
Granted, the First World War was quite different than the Second, with battles occurring on the no-mans-land, between the trenches of the opposing forces. This alone forces developers to think outside the box in terms of how to approach making a WWI game. The results of that you will be able to see on our list.
Take a look at the best games that dealt with the subject of “the greatest conflict of our time”.
The Last Express
|Developer/Publisher||Car Productions, Brøderbund|
Truth be told, The Last Express doesn’t have much to do with the actual WWI. There are no grand battles to be fought in this Smoking Car Productions’ adventure title. What it does share with the Great War is the year 1914 and references to the political situation of Europe on the eve of war.
The story of the game focuses on Robert Cath, a fugitive from French and British police, who boards the Orient Express from Paris to Constantinople at the behest of his friend. When the friend is found dead, Cath has to solve the mystery and find the culprit before the train reaches its destination.
As an adventure game, TLE’s gameplay features include interaction with objects and NPC’s and collecting clues to solve puzzles, pushing the plot forward to one of several endings. The real-time game mechanic causes specific actions to occur only at certain hours, e.g., an NPC visiting the restaurant. The player can also rewind and fast forward time to re-investigate for missed clues.
The Last Express was a commercial failure at the time of release, but received highly favorable reviews for its writing, score and visuals.
|Developer/Publisher||Cranberry Production, DTP Entertainment|
Mata Hari is one of the most famous spies in history, and her exploits have become the basis for various books, movies, and other media. Now, you can accompany her on a mission to discover the military secrets of nations and sow distrust between allies as World War I inevitably approaches.
The gameplay of Mata Hari focuses on the point-and-click mechanics of many other adventure games. The player can interact with the environment, examining items, and talking to NPCs to gather information. To succeed in her mission, Mata Hari will have to use a variety of gadgets, like phone taps, codebreakers, and others. The game features various minigames based around the character’s profession of a spy. These include evading capture by other spies during travel, one of which involves performing exotic dances.
Mata Hari received solid reviews, with critics praising some of the minigame mechanics, intuitive and innovative interface, as well as the music and voice-acting.
|Developer/Publisher||4X Studios, Wanadoo|
For an FPS set during World War I, Iron Storm has a lot of intriguing ideas to offer.
The game blends the themes of the Great War with elements of WWII and contemporary conflicts, such as the use of mustard gas and more advanced weaponry: machine guns, tanks, unmanned turrets, and helicopters. IS is notoriously difficult, with the player not able to take more than few shots before perishing, enemies armed to the teeth and glitches causing all sorts of problems. What makes this melting pot of good and bad work is that the game doesn’t even attempt to take itself seriously, as attested by its plot.
The story is set in the alternate reality, where World War I never ended, lasing for over 40 years. In 1964, James Anderson, a legend among the army of the United States of Western Europe, is sent on a mission to stop the Russo-Mongolian Empire, the other main force of the long-lasting conflict, from developing a new deadly weapon that would shift the balance in their favor.
Iron Storm was met with positive reviews, with critics praising the intriguing storyline among others.
|Developer/Publisher||The Farm 51, 505 Media|
NecroVisioN could be considered the Return to Castle Wolfenstein of World War I, with the game combining the FPS gameplay and supernatural story set during the Great War.
In NecroVisioN, the player takes control of Simon Bunker, a young American soldier who joins the ranks of the British Army in 1916. The plot centers around an alternate history version of the Battle of Somme, during which a mysterious plague spread across the battlefield, changing the soldiers into zombies. Trying to figure out the reason behind these occurrences, Simon is lead into different, supernatural locations ruled by monsters, including hell itself.
NecroVisioN is a first-person shooter game, so the player will spend most of the time firing at whatever walks in front of the crosshair. The game features various weapons used during WWI, such as pistols, rifles, and machine guns. Guns can be dual-wielded, with each hand carrying a different firearm. The player can also use spells to fend off demons.
NecroVisoN features multiplayer, where the players can choose one of three available classes and face each other in various modes, like solo and team deathmatches and free-for-all.
NecroVisioN received favorable reviews from the critics, who noted the combination of the supernatural and WWI elements as a very intriguing concept.
Red Baron and the Sky Pirates
|Developer/Publisher||Schism Worldwide, Plug In Digital|
|Genre:||arcade flight shooter|
Red Baron and the Sky Pirates takes the best elements of the classic flight shooters and embellishes them with its World War One setting.
The Red Baron, or Manfred von Richthofen, was a German pilot during World War I, credited with 80 victories during his air service. His legendary exploits and characteristic red triplane gave him the status of the pop-cultural star, with books movies and video games based on his character. Red Baron and the Sky Pirates is one of the.
Gameplay mechanics and visual style of RBaSP are similar to the classic games like Star Fox on N64. The player controls the plane from the third-person perspective in colorful levels evading obstacles and fighting enemies, including bosses. The aircraft can be upgraded and customized with improved weaponry and different skins. Red Baron and Sky pirates features a split-screen cooperative multiplayer mode.
The game was met with mostly favorable reviews among the players.
|Genre:||multiplayer first-person shooter|
|Release date:||2019 (Early Access)|
Grunt1914 offers a WWI multiplayer experience with various factors influencing the gameplay and the player’s chances for victory.
While Grunt1914 isn’t the Battlefield-level multiplayer game, it deserves mention on our list for the scale of the effort the developers at aligned games put into creating their title. The game offers two factions the player can choose from – the Americans and Germans. Each faction has six classes with both active and passive skills they can use. The players can fight on 16 different maps, where weather conditions affecting gameplay in various ways.
What’s more, there are 55 types of weapons to use, such as pistols, sub-machine guns and machine guns, shotguns, and grenades, all equipable with attachments.
Grunt1914 received mostly positive reviews from the fans, who noted the nostalgic feel of the game, reminding them of the classic FPS titles like the early Medal of Honor installments.
1914: Prelude to Chaos
In 1914: Prelude to Chaos, the future global conflict takes back seat to the efforts to stop an even greater threat to the world.
Amaterasu Software’s 1914: Prelude to Chaos is a turn-based role-playing game, in the vein of classic jRPGs like Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy. The player controls the character of Finley Thompson, a British archaeologist, and explorer searching for a mystical artifact from the First Crusade, hidden somewhere in the territory of the Kingdom of Serbia. When the World War I break out, Finley’s got no other option to continue his search, especially that in the artifact that makes the army who possesses it invincible could decide about the outcome of the war.
Gameplay mechanics of 1914:PtC focus on the exploration of 16-bit maps in search of items, talking with NPCs, as well as fighting enemies. The player’s team consists of four characters each with different skills. Winning battles rewards the player with experience points, which are used to level up the player’s party.
1914: Prelude to Chaos reviews were mostly positive.
First Eagles: The Great War 1918
|Developer/Publisher||Third Wire Productions, G2 Games|
Take to the skies as the air conflict of World War I intensifies and prove your skill as a fighter pilot.
First Eagles: The Great War 1918 is a flight simulation game in which the player becomes one of the pilots who fought in the aerial battles during that great conflict. The game features several modes the player can participate in. In Instant Action, the player is immediately thrown into the heat of battle. Campaign allows the player to participate in a series of adjustable missions. Single Mission is similar to the Instant action, but it gives the player more room for customization. Finally, there’s the multiplayer mode, where the players can participate in inline air battles.
The gameplay mechanics include changing weather and battle conditions – sudden storms and gusts of wind can change the course of the plane, crashing it into another one. The skies are always under fire from anti-aircraft cannons, which make maneuvering and fighting even more difficult.
World War I
|Developer/Publisher||Dark Fox, 1C Entertainment|
Take the mantle of WWI commander and lead your army to victory.
World War I is a real-time strategy game in which the player takes the reigns as one of the sides of the Great War. The available factions are the Entente, Russia, and Germany, each with their unique units and playstyles.
The gameplay mechanics vary depending on the player’s approach. The game offers a lot in terms of variety, providing units to suit the player’s needs. The ground units include infantry, cavalry, artillery, armored vehicles, and aerial units. Each of the units has its uses, and the player’s job is to find the best one.
World War I was met with positive player reception.
Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land
|Developer/Publisher||Red Wasp Design|
The world of H.P. Lovecraft meets World War I in this excellent strategic role-playing game.
H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu series has been a source of unlimited inspirations for various types of media. The works of the master of horror translate exceptionally well into the world of video games, just like in the case of Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land.
The game is set during World War I and features multiple creations from the Cthulhu Mythos. The plot follows Professor Brightmeer and Captain Hill, who are tasked with stopping a secret cult led by Docktor Kaul, who uses dark magic to raise an army of undead made of those who lost their lives in the conflict.
The developers compared the gameplay of The Wasted Land to that of the X-COM series, and it shows. During the turn-based combat, the player can choose between different approaches to combat, either overpowering the enemy with firearms or using powerful magic spells to take them out.
The game received positive reviews from the critics and players alike.
|Developer/Publisher||Signal Studios, Microsoft Game Studios|
Toy Soldiers scales down the size of the conflict but not the stakes in an interesting combination of action and strategy elements.
Signal Studio’s game is one of those that defy easy labels. On the one hand, it’s a strategy game set during World War I. On the other, it has action elements, during which the player can control a single unit on the map. Also, the combatants are plastic soldiers on a battlefield diorama. Toy Soldier’s is a mishmash of ideas, that against all expectations work pretty well with each other.
The game features two gameplay modes: a single-player campaign, based on tower-defense mechanics and survival mode, in which the player battles against continuous waves of enemies.
Toy Soldiers received positive reviews from the critics, who praised the intriguing idea behind the game and excellent production values.
Commander: The Great War
|Developer/Publisher||The Lordz Game Studio, Slitherine studio|
Victory and defeat depend on the player’s choices as a commander in this turn-based strategy title.
WWI games seem to flock to the genre of turn-based strategies. It’s understandable for a variety of reasons – the Great War was a testing field not only for weapons and equipment but also for military strategies. The player can test their leadership and planning skills in Commander: The Great War.
Throughout five campaigns, the game closely follows the events of the war, but it also offers what-if scenarios, dependable on the results of battles. Eighteen types of units available in the game can be upgraded through technological research. The player can choose historical commanders for their units; each commander possesses unique skills, useful for different battle situations.
Commander: The Great War was met with positive reviews. Critics praised the amount of strategic thinking the game required of the player, as well as the faithful representation of historical events and units.
Commands & Colors: The Great War
Commands & Colors blends board game aesthetics and strategy game mechanics, creating a unique mix of gameplay ideas.
HexWar Games and Plastic Soldier Company are well known in their respective gaming branches: strategy games and battle board games. Their cooperation gave birth to a digital reproduction of Commands & Colors: The Great War – a strategy board game based on the battles of World War I.
In C&C: TGW, the player controls an army on a hex grid battlefields, pushing them forward into battle. Gameplay mechanics are a combination of strategy game mechanics and board game rules, including rolling a digital dice to decide on the next move during combat.
The game features 15 scenarios with different army setups, with a limited number of units available in each one. Throughout the gameplay, the player can use strategy cards, which can help gain an advantage on the battlefield.
Reviews of Commands & Colors: The Great War praised repayability and faithful representation of World War I battle conditions and mechanics.
WarBirds: Dawn of Aces
|Developer/Publisher||iEntertainment Network Inc.|
|Genre:||MMO flight simulation|
The skies over the battlefields of World War I are filled with the most fearsome pilots in history, and the player is one of them in this MMO flight simulation game.
In its essence, WarBirds: Dawn of Aces is a game very similar to First Eagles, an earlier mention on our list. The gameplay mechanics involve flying one of several models of WWI fighter planes that soared into battles over the No-Man’s Land. The modes available in WarBirds are pretty standard fare for the flight simulation games. They include single-player campaign missions, instant action battles, and a multiplayer mode in which the player can fight against others online.
WarBirds: Dawn of Aces reviews were mostly positive, and praised the title’s realism and graphics.
Rise of Flight: Channel Battles
|Developer/Publisher||777 Studios, 1C-777|
|Genre:||MMO Flight Simulator|
Channel Battles Edition expands on the experience of the core F2P Rise of Flight United, adding new planes to fly and battle scenarios to participate in.
In Rise of Flight: Channel Battles, the player can realistically experience the thrill of aerial World War I combat. The gameplay mechanics take into account factors such as G-force, giving the player-controlled pilot redouts and blackouts, as well as hindering the flight controls. The game offers several modes of play, including Quick Missions and a training campaign.
Channel Battles content pack adds additional machines to pilot, a new map spanning the northern shores of France and Southern England, among others, as well as several new mission campaigns.
Rise of Flight: Channel Battles received positive reviews for its gameplay mechanics, including the realistic flight model, plenty of available planes and the new map.
Rise of Flight is free to play.
11-11: Memories Retold
|Developer/Publisher||Digixart, Aardman Animation, Bandai Namco Entertainment|
11-11: Memories Retold proves that World War I games can tell an intriguing story without relying on combat gameplay.
Harry Lambert and Kurt Waldner joined World War I for very different reasons. Harry wanted to impress the girl he likes and gain glory as a war photographer. Kurt, a German engineer, learns that his son has gone missing on the front. In order to find his child, he enlists in the German army.
Unlike other games dealing with the subject of the Great War, 11-11 attempts to show the human experience of the Great War. Throughout the gameplay, the player will have a chance to talk with NPCs, discuss their opinion on the situation, and learn about their hopes and dreams. Rarely do games set during wither of World Wars take their time to look at its participants as actual people. The effect of that is a surprisingly refreshing adventure story, told with artistically unique graphics, and featuring typical to the genre elements that elevate its message that wars aren’t only about shooting.
11-11: Memories Retold was met with critical acclaim. Reviewers praised the graphics and story, noting how refreshing the game was in a sea of similar war-based first-person shooters.
Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol
|Developer/Publisher||Firaxis Games, 2K|
With clever gameplay mechanics and cartoon-like graphics design, Ace Patrol shows that WWI strategy games can still surprise.
Ace Patrol is a turn-based strategy game from Firaxis Games, the studio responsible for such successful titles as Civilization and X-COM. This time they take the player into the World War I era of first aerial battles.
The game’s mechanics are quite interesting. The player chooses a fictional WWI pilot and their machine from four factions. The combat gameplay is similar to that of Command and Colors mentioned earlier on our list, with the exception that instead of ground units, the player moves planes on the hex grid. The game includes a system of promotions, which allow unlocking new plane equipment and pilot skills.
The reception of Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol was very positive, with both reviewers and players praising the game’s mechanics and graphics.
|Developer/Publisher||MH2, Blackmill Games|
|Genre:||multiplayer first-person shooter|
While not as expansive as other multiplayer FPS games, Verdun does the job of a compelling World War I action title.
Verdun offers a lot of variety in terms of gameplay mechanics, based around multiplayer battles of up to 64 players, divided into two sides. The players can take part in four different modes – Frontlines, Attrition Warfare, Squad Defense, and Rifle Deathmatch. The rules applied to each mode aim to resemble the actual fighting conditions of World War I.
The player’s team consists of four members. The team leader, called NCO in the game, can use different passive and active tactical skills to gain an advantage over the enemy, such as calling in mortar strikes, artillery barrage, granting buffs to their teammates, and others. The player’s team can level up by killing enemies and carrying out map objectives; leveling up allows upgrading the team’s various skills, like accuracy, the effectiveness of suppression, etc.
Verdun was praised by the critics for its realistic approach to WWI combat, which differentiated it from other, often chaotic multiplayer shooters.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War
|Developer/Publisher||Ubisoft Montpellier, Ubisoft|
Valiant Hearts: The Great War takes a look at how World War I affected not only soldiers but also civilians involved in it.
Aside from classic adventure game mechanics of collecting items and solving puzzles, Valiant Hearts offers the player another very unique feature: perspective. Told from the point of view of four characters, each in some way involved in the Great War, the story of VH encourages the player to think about what war does to people put through the hell of conflict. The game’s unique graphic design, full of desaturated colors, indicates the hopelessness of the situation when humanity takes second place to survival.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War received nearly universal acclaim. Its story and themes gained special praise, winning it the Game Awards 2014 for Best Narrative and Game For Change awards.
|Developer/Publisher||EAA DICE, Electronic Arts|
|Genre:||multiplayer first-person shooter|
One of the best multiplayer FPS series in history takes on the setting of the Great War, delivering one of the best if a bit exaggerated, WWI experiences.
Developers of Battlefield 1 had a tough nut to crack with this one – whether to give the player the intensity of previous installments of the series or remain as historically accurate as possible. In the end, they decided to compromise between the two, delivering an action-packed shooter in a WWI setting.
While Battlefield series is known mostly for its multiplayer mode, BF 1 offers a single-player campaign mode, dubbed War Stories, which presents several tales from the fronts of the Great War. These are only an aperitif to a gigantic multiplayer mode, with a variety of modes, character classes, customization options, etc. – so everything that the fans of Battlefield have grown to love over the years.
Battlefield 1 received positive reviews and opinions from the critics and the players, who praised the games intense action and variety of modes. The game was nominated to various industry awards, winning the Games Critics Awards for the Best Game of 2016.
Despite not being as prominently represented as its “sequel”, World War I boasts a decent catalogue of enjoyable video games from across all genres. Whether you’re a fan of strategic thinking and careful planning, or fast-paced action on No-Man’s Land, or even subdued narrative-driven titles, you’ll find a game that puts you in the trenches or marching across the No-Man’s Land. It’s quite a feat for developers to squeeze so much varied content from a single setting, and it proves that World Wars are so much more than intense firefights between opposing armies.