By Joseph Luster

If you’re looking for a historically-accurate World War II shooter, the team at Pathfinder Games has your back with Vanguard: Normandy 1944. This squad-based outing has been kicking it in Early Access since 2019, and all that time in the oven continues to pay off on a regular basis. The CRYENGINE underneath the hood does a spectacular job of meticulously recreating the weapons, equipment, and uniforms of the period, resulting in a grim but unforgettable window into the horrors of D-Day.

Vanguard: Normandy 1944 offers a couple key options: You can tackle objectives as members of the elite Airborne Division or step into the boots of the German Wehrmacht. Either way you’ll be engaging in up-close-and-personal infantry combat in the main game mode, Raid, which has you either playing the role of defender or attacking and advancing as the aggressor. Rounds of Raid mode are typically short and intense, making it ideal for fitting in a bunch of play sessions and finding new ways to hold your own no matter what side you may fall on in any given match.

While a single bullet could easily put an end to your time on the battlefield, that makes it all the more exciting whenever you manage to properly coordinate with your online squadmates and emerge victorious. This is a true team-based affair, but the bite-sized sessions make it much more palatable as something you can hop into at your leisure without having to commit an obscene amount of time at once. Sure, you can connect with friends for the aforementioned lengthy sessions, but you can also easily fit it into even the busiest of schedules, which is good news for folks that might find it increasingly difficult to budget the appropriate amount of time for online wargaming.

One of the most promising aspects of Vanguard: Normandy 1944—especially considering the fact that we’re dealing with an Early Access game that remains technically unfinished—is the amount of community support. The devs regularly run Sunday Skirmish community play events, giving players a chance to jump on at the same time and offer focused feedback on the ever-evolving experience. It’s a show of good faith and the developer’s belief in what is by most indications a very promising title, so stay tuned to see what happens next with this one.

Publisher: Pathfinder Games
Genre: Shooter
System: PC

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