Brilliant XCOM-like WW2 game gets a March release date

Publisher Team17 confirms its WW2 XCOM-like Classified: France '44 is coming on March 5, with two special editions - and pre-orders are up.

We’ve had our eye on turn-based tactics WW2 game Classified: France ’44 for ages – from what we’ve played, it’s a cracking, stealth-focused tactics game like XCOM – and, as of Tuesday, we finally have a Classified: France ’44 release date, along with details of pre-orders and two special editions, titled ‘Deluxe’ and ‘Overlord’.

A strong contender to join our list of the best games like XCOM, developer Absolutely Games’ Classified: France ’44 puts you in command of a ragtag special forces unit embedded in Nazi occupied France towards the end of the Second World War, conducting clandestine missions with the French resistance to help prepare the ground for the Allies’ D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.

Team17’s press release on Tuesday confirms the Classified: France ’44 release date is March 5, for PC, Xbox Series X/S, and PS5 (but not Nintendo Switch). You can pre-order it now – if you do, you’ll get a couple of bonus cosmetics, depending on your chosen platform.

The release date announcement came with a brand new trailer you can watch below:

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The standard edition costs $34.99 (£34.99), while the Deluxe – five dollars more at $39.99 (£39.99) – includes the first of four planned DLC expansions (we’ve no intel yet on what the DLC actually is, mind). The tippy-top Overlord edition, at $49.99 (£49.99) includes a season pass to all four planned DLC packs.

Team17 also reveals – handily – that each DLC pack will cost $5.99 (£5.99) on its own, when they arrive – while the season pass of all four will set you back $19.99 (£19.99).

As deluxe edition/DLC price structures go, then, it seems fairly benign to us; there’s no $80 mega-ultra-turbo-deluxe version with a laundry list of 20 questionable digital extras – you just save a few bucks by pre-buying all the expansions at once, if you fancy it. Nice.

Classified France 44 release date - Team17 screenshot showing the in-game tactical information and UI, as a character fights in a dockyard

Wargamer’s Alex Evans and Matt Bassil played a preview build of Classified: France ’44 with Team17 back when it was first announced in May 2023, and were mightily impressed with its tactical options; its neat overwatch and action-taking mechanics; its miniature wargame-like focus on positioning and fire arcs; and its satisfyingly lethal gunplay.

The signature new system here – morale – applies interesting tactical bonuses and debuffs based on how the battle is progressing, and what position each soldier is in. We didn’t get to sample this in huge detail, but what we saw suggests it will at the very least add some spice to the otherwise familiar turn-based combat missions.

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At the time we played it, France ’44’s UI was still very janky, visuals and animations were unfinished, and game-breaking bugs marred our playthroughs – but the promise was definitely there – and Absolutely Games has since had eight whole months to fix the holes and polish the edges.

Unlike the genre’s unquestioned lord and master XCOM 2, the Classified system has you recruit members of your squad from a range of pre-written, named characters with their own unique skillsets and backstories, rather than naming and customizing troopers from faceless nobodies, and training them up after your own designs.

Classified France 44 release date - Team17 screenshot showing the team campsite screen between missions, with multiple characters resting together

As such, it’s leaning away slightly from the XCOM formula’s focus on emergent storytelling, and suggests more of a ‘produced’ campaign experience – though fans of XCOM 2 and War of the Chosen ought to find a lot of familiar RPG/strategy elements here, with multiple resistance factions to court; and a dynamic storyline promising “15 different endings” that can diverge from the real history, Hearts of Iron 4 style.

We’re very much looking forward to putting Classified: France ’44 through its paces, so keep an eye out for our review later on.

In the meantime, you might enjoy a trip through our guides to the best WW2 games on PC, and the best turn based games overall. Alternatively, for tabletop choices, we also track the best WW2 board games and war board games worth playing in 2024.

In other WW2 gaming news, Warlord Games’ excellent miniatures game Bolt Action is getting a tank-versus-tank spinoff called Achtung, Panzer! in April.