The First Next-Gen Exclusive on Xbox That No One Is Talking About
Enlisted is a World War 2 squad-based online first-person shooter from developer Darkflow Studio, based out of Latvia. Published by Gaijin Entertainment, it released into the Game Preview program on Xbox Series X|S at launch on November 10th, 2020.
I have spent roughly a dozen hours with the game so far and my impressions can be boiled down to “I’m glad this is in Game Preview, because there is promise here – but it needs some work”.
A Silent Launch
I found myself intrigued when the game was announced for Xbox Series X|S as an exclusive at launch. It had been originally announced back at E3 in 2018 for PC. The development went dark and after two years with zero updates most assumed the title to have been canceled. There was quite the surprise then when a playtest went up on PC in mid-2020. After nearly 3 months though I have yet to see any coverage of the game on any major websites.
The studio’s only other credited title is Cuisine Royale, which has recently been renamed to CRSED: F.O.A.D. or Cuisine Royale Second Edition: Fulfilment of All Desires (what a mouthful). That game was based on the Enlisted engine and originally was just an April fool’s jokes. I wish that Enlisted used the same movement and aiming systems as that game. Graphically the game is the definition of “fine” right now. It is obviously still early-access and the sound can be legitimately great at times. Guns have a good kathunk to them, and the music is at the higher end for its generic roots.
Aiming From the Hip? I Wish I Knew How
Those controls though. They need a lot of work. While attempting to simply turn left or right I am routinely twisting a complete 90 degrees. It does not happen every time, but it happens often enough to color every movement I make in the game. Aiming is meant to be more difficult than in a game like Call of Duty but this just feels terrible. It does not occur while aiming down sites thankfully, but it really hampers any attempts at firing from the hip.
Pay 2 Win? Please, No.
Enlisted is $30 for the base edition or $50 for the deluxe right now. It will be free to play, eventually. What do these paid versions get you? Incredibly powerful squads of max-level soldiers that remove all need for grinding out the game’s many progression systems. It does not feel great, and the $50 bundle that was provided for us offered me up a max rank squad for the Germans and Russians. Those are the only two nations in now, but more have been promised.
The only mode in the game right now for MP is Squads. You play with up to 10 AI squadmates whom you can swap to after your player-controlled character dies. Having a squad so quickly leveled is a huge advantage as you only have 5 slots at first and must play many games to level them up. There is a tank and plane squad which you will earn as you progress through the experience-based leveling system. Tanks are very much a glass cannon type here. You can mow down dozens of enemies but one or two are able to take you out if they get close enough. Planes are incredibly hard to control but can lay waste to entire squads in seconds while not having much in the way to counter them yet.
Right now the only campaign in the game is the Battle for Moscow. PC had a Normandy Invasion playtest recently and the Battle for Berlin has been confirmed to be in development as well.
Game Preview Is A Good Thing
As this is a Game Preview title I hope that the microtransaction system, along with the controls, are at the top of the list for things to be adjusted as time goes on. During my short time with the game there have been multiple patches showcasing the developer’s dedication to the product.
There is promise here. While the controls and monetization need work the moment-to-moment gameplay can feel deeply satisfying (owing in part to how difficult it is at times). This seems like a prime title for the Game Preview system and I will be keeping an eye on it as it approaches full release, though I’d imagine that is quite a ways off.