Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
There’s some eras of warfare that seem impossible to recreate in a first-person shooter, and the idea of standing in rows and exchanging volleys with another group of gents also standing in rows seems like one of them. Yet, Napoleonic Wars [Steam page] is one of my favourite multiplayer shooter mods ever. See, while you’re free to just hop online and join in chaotic public matches, you’re much better served joining one of the many regiments that engage in historically-proper battles with loads of rules for what you can and can’t do at any given time. Raised your rifle or spoken out of turn without the captain’s orders? That’s a lashin’.
What I love about playing in a highly coordinated regiment is that Napoleonic Wars becomes more about discipline than accuracy or skill. You have little agency as a single soldier, instead, relying on your commander’s ability to position your unit properly to not get flanked by enemy maneuvers. But, for me, it’s those moments when we are flanked that are the absolute best.
If we break ranks and scatter to save our lives, we bring shame upon our regiment. Far better to charge forward into an overwhelming enemy force and die in glory than to be a coward. It’s a decision few shooters are complex enough to pose because there’s no way to really quantify bravery in multiplayer. Instead, it’s about the bonds you form with your unit and the reputation you build amongst your peers.