Even in virtual reality (VR), WWII shooters remain a prominent staple, allowing gamers to be whisked back 80 years to a time where the world was literally at war. While some like Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond try to tread a careful line between honouring those that fought in that dark part of history whilst creating a realistic, playable experience, other such as Zen Apps Studios’ new Days of Heroes: D-Day purely focus on the action. Yet it isn’t quite the arcade experience you’d expect it to be, a sometimes erratic mashup that can be fun and frustrating in equal measure.
Day of Heroes: D-Day is a videogame of two halves, marketed as an experience where you can be an airborne division jumper or an infantry soldier storming Omaha beach. In fact, the linear campaign doesn’t actually give you a choice, starting as a paratrooper and then switching several levels in to find yourself in the chaos of the D-Day landings.
There’s a requisite training mission to give you a basic understanding of the mechanics, offering realism by way of manual reloads for authentic weapons of the era like the Thompson or being able to pull a grenade pin with your teeth – always an important addition. However, you’ll find few comfort options in Day of Heroes: D-Day, it’s continuous locomotion all the way, with the ability to switch between snap and smooth turning all that’s available.
Turning almost becomes irrelevant in Day of Heroes: D-Day as the gameplay is designed around room-scale interactions, ducking behind cover to reload or peeking out to take a well-placed sniper shot at a bunker. And you’ll need to, as death is certain even on the normal difficulty level. Don’t let the low-poly art style fool you into this being a cakewalk, walking around like you’re Rambo shrugging the bullets off. You can take a few hits but nothing major, so carrying first aid is essential, two if you don’t want a grenade on your chest.
You have certain spots on the front of you for guns and extras, so whilst it’s good there’s no HUD for some strange reason Day of Heroes: D-Day has floating yellow orbs to indicate where items can go. Kind of strange considering it tries so hard to offer realistic mechanics. This uneven balance continues throughout the videogame, your ammo pouch for instance provides unlimited mags so you can sit at a position for as long as you like – or until the enemies run out.
Some titles really have the reload mechanics down to a tee yet Day of Heroes: D-Day’s concern with that realism quite often means fumbling around trying to reload a gun – especially bolt action rifles – dying in the process. Respawning would mean going back to a checkpoint and if you’re lucky still retaining your weapons. Getting killed on the beach whilst trying to snipe a gun emplacement then returning to find said weapon was gone meant the mission became tougher and more frustrating.
There are 26 missions in total, each ranging from between 5 to 10 minutes. So they’re fairly small skirmishes, for the most part, generally consisting of pushing forward to claim land. This gives Day of Heroes: D-Day that arcade element previously mentioned, quickly moving through missions in fairly rapid succession. Whilst the set pieces like Omaha Beach are the grand showpieces, some of the most fun to be had is in the tightly packed bunkers and trenches, carefully exploring these mini labyrinths.
Yet there always seemed to be a mixture of either dumb or not quite so dumb enemies. Some will just stand there shooting away without a care in the world. On the other hand, some will use and move between cover, popping their heads up to open fire. As you’d expect. However, pull a flanking manoeuvre and sometimes it was easy to kill a whole group just blatantly ignoring you.
Day of Heroes: D-Day offers some nice level ideas and decent visuals that do allow you to become engrossed in the gameplay at points. But it is a very middle of the road VR shooter with mechanics which could do with some refinement and more comfort options to support player requirements. One aspect Day of Heroes: D-Day does completely miss is heart, you’re in the midst of a war yet it feels very ‘by the numbers’, a videogame you could like but never love.