The Second World War featured a lot of death. The brutality of this war is a common exploration in the world of gaming, with dozens of titles attempting their own take on World War II.
Media taking aim at this moment in history has stemmed from all over the world, from France and Germany to Russia, Japan, and the United States. Content exploring the Second World War cross genres and consoles, and has a collective tendency to sugar-coat or outright obscure many of the more controversial actions taken throughout the conflict.
As a result, there is a wide swathe of content available, and it can be hard to suss out which ones are best. Our guide of the best WWII video games leans on critical reception to guide the process, but doesn’t rely on them as our sole decider. Taste, after all, is a very subjective thing
Warning, this article may contain story spoilers.
10. Wolfenstein 3D (1992)
You simply cannot talk about first person shooters in the WWII era without mentioning the one that made it all possible. This game lacks a collective critical consensus, but a short search of reviews both contemporary and historical show Wolfenstein remains an enduringly popular title among gamers. There’s just no topping the high that comes from finally killing Hitler.
9. Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII (2006)
This production has its faults, but makes our list for its ability to pull off an epic adventure with multiplayer options more entertaining than many triple-A games. A thoroughly average sequel was released in 2007, but it doesn’t hold up to its predecessor. A modern remake would be welcome, particularly if done in VR, but as of now gamers will have to endure spotty graphics if they want to play Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII.
8. Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (2002)
Despite its age, this game has an intentionality in its cinematic feel that can’t be denied. Heavy hitters Steven Spielberg and composer Michael Giacchino — of Jurassic Park and Call of Duty fame — worked on the game, resulting in a story and score that is hard to beat. The general luster of the series has faded over time, unfortunately, but fans would welcome a return to the era through a modern release.
7. Silent Service (1985)
Games set during WWII can be more than just action shooters, as demonstrated by this early work from the legendary Sid Meier. In Silent Service, players find themselves in charge of a submarine in the Pacific Ocean. Particularly given its age, the game presents a surprising level of depth and challenge that, for some players, may make it essentially unbeatable.
6. Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001)
Another of the seminal hits of the WWII genre, Return to Castle Wolfenstein stands out as one of the best remakes to ever hit shelves. This game is chock-full of fun, familiar moments alongside a number of delightful twists that help it to stand out from its similarly-popular predecessors.
5. Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich (2005)
So long as you’re not overly concerned with realism, Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich is an excellent WWII offering. While it is set during conflict, this game combines fun design, enjoyable heroes, and an eager modding community to make a game that manages to balance amusement with its rather grim setting. The game also shares a team with the Bioshock series, guaranteeing a solid design.
4. Call of Duty (2003)
Later entries in the Call of Duty franchise turned into exploitative cash grabs, but the first entry in this series is still a stellar game. It provides perspectives beyond the typically-explored American viewpoint, a welcome change in games of this sort, and presents real historical moments through a new lens. It also feels less isolated than many of the games in this genre, which helps the first Call of Duty to stand far above its numerous sequels.
3. Velvet Assassin (2009)
This game proved divisive among reviewers, but we think it deserves recognition for its courage. Velvet Assassin attempted to try new things, and — while many gamers didn’t appreciate the risks it took — we do. The game puts a female protagonist based on a real historical figure at its core, a decision sorely lacking in this genre. Some of the best intelligence operatives during WWII were women, after all. We would love to see more of their stories told through games.
2. Battlefield 1942 (2002)
This game is fun, chaotic, and utterly addictive. It demonstrates a prime example of what multiplayer should be, and holds up well even today. Later entries in the Battlefield series proved to be divisive or outright disasters, but Battlefield 1942 is an undeniable delight. It allows gamers playing with friends to work as a team or function as individuals, based on what the situation demands, which makes for a unique and captivating experience.
1. Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014)
Wolfenstein: The New Order presents an alternate version of history, but it still technically falls into the WWII genre. It doesn’t have the highest critical rating of the games on this list, but it is an absolute favorite among staff members at We Got This Covered. It remains, in our eyes, the best WWII game to date. It beefs up its background, fleshes out its formerly under-developed hero, and provides some different viewpoints on actions taken by the United States during the war.