Victory day has passed, some countries used it as an opportunity to show off their military power and we will use it to show off our favorite World War II games.
I’ll make an effort to keep the list diverse and cover as many genres, but I am not making any promises. It's also completely okay if you don't consider this the best World War II games.
1. Medal of Honor
You can’t talk about games set in World War II without mentioning Medal of Honor. Allied Assault, Pacific Assault, and Airborne all have a very special place in my heart.
Allied Assault mirrored Saving Private Ryan almost scene by scene in the Omaha landing and it left an impression on players that no other game could replicate.
Pacific Assault also portrayed a very impactful moment in the war, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Yet again, it was done in a way that, in my opinion, no other game managed to do.
These games had some amazing moments, but they also had great gameplay, the guns were satisfying, the stories were, well pretty standard for FPS games, so they are more like short history lessons.
They also have great replay value and stood the test of time (Allied Assault didn’t age too well, but the rest did). Quite recently I replayed Airborne because you really get to enjoy it after you complete it and start experimenting with where you will drop once you know the objectives for each mission.
2. Red Orchestra 2/Rising Storm
Often called the PTSD simulator, this game has every right to hold that title. For anyone who hasn’t played it, the game tries to be as realistic as possible while keeping it fun to play. The main reason it earned this title are the horrifying screams and sounds of soldiers crying and pleading for their lives as they die.
Gameplay wise, it’s 64-player matches that keep you on the edge of your sit. You hear gunshots in the distance, you only have an idea where the enemy is, you and your allies patiently wait for someone to be stupid enough to move out of cover or peek while you hold the point.
This game can feel boring at times since it’s usually quite slow, especially if that’s not your type of game, but experiencing one of those nerve-wracking moments and emerging victorious will have you coming back for more.
3. Men of War
To my surprise, not a lot of people heard of this series and even less have played it. Men of War is a real-time strategy game that focuses on smaller squads in larger operations.
In Men of War, you have limited resources, you don’t have many units to work with at any given time and any tank you bring into battle you have to take good care of due to how much it can affect the outcome of a battle.
The learning curve isn’t that steep and you get used to difficulty fairly quickly so it’s not a punishment, it’s a challenge. All in all, it’s a really fun game and you have a sense of pride when you actually win.
4. Company of Heroes
We stay in the genre, but we raise the scale. Besides managing your units, you also have to keep your base safe, capture points to gain resources, build defenses around the map and judge where your commander's abilities are most needed.
It has a great campaign, well balanced multiplayer and skirmish modes, and a line of great expansion packs. There’s a commander for everyone, heavy tanks, infantry, airforce or long range bombardment, everything is there.
It’s a lot more welcoming and forgiving than Men of War and it’s definitely one of my favorite RTS games.
5. Hearts of Iron
Again we raise the scale, this time it’s global. Instead of commanding a few soldiers and tanks, you lead an entire country and its entire military force.
You might not be in control of individual battles, but you direct and focus your army, stage coups, convince leaders that you will protect their interests as you prepare to march on their territories.
You can play it historically or you could lead Luxembourg to total world domination, it’s completely up to you. You just have to get past the steep learning curve since the game really isn’t forgiving. It’s the Dark Souls of strategy games...I’m sorry.
Jokes aside, it does take a long time to learn how to play and even longer to actually get good at it. Getting frustrated in the begging is completely expected, but once you actually get good at it it’s a lot of fun and you can play any way you want.
Once you’re done conquering the world and nuking London as Iceland, there’s a large collection of mods to continue the fun.
Continuing with another niche game, next up is Wolfpack. Wolfpack is all about controlling a U-boat with your team. Your mission is to intercept and destroy convoys escorted by destroyers and get away unseen.
The team fills the roles of the captain, the helmsman, the dive officer, the radio man, and the navigator. Each player has his duties, but nothing is stopping you from walking over to a different part of the submarine and switching with another player.
If you know what you’re doing and are working with a competent crew it’s a very fun, yet nerve-wracking experience. If you have no idea what you’re doing and playing with less than competent friends, it’s even more fun.
7. War Thunder
If submarines aren’t your cup of tea, tanks might be, or ships, or planes. War Thunder has it all. You start with vehicles from the beginning of World War II and by the time you unlock your last vehicle you’re using late Cold War vehicles.
The game is free and it tries to accommodate everyone, there are arcade battles for casual players that prefer action, simulator battles for those who prefer realism and realistic battles as a balance between the two, there's also wacky game modes every year for April 1st.
The only problem for new players is that it’s a bit grindy and most other players you will come up against are a lot more experienced and you might feel it is a bit unfair.
I wouldn't feel right if I didn't at least mention Sniper Elite, Wolfenstein, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Hidden & Dangerous and Brothers in Arms. They're great games, but I don't enjoy them as much as the previously listed games and the more recent entries for these series have been slightly disappointing, but they still deserve to be mentioned.