Hands on with Insurgency's standalone WW2 expansion, Day of Infamy

Above, see the first Day of Infamy gameplay footage, which debuted today at the PC Gaming Show.

The metallic ping! as my M1 Garand ejects its "en bloc" magazine is a sound I haven't heard in a few years, and I can't help but smile a little as I shove another one into my rifle. It's a waste of ammo, but I squeeze off enough shots just to hear it again. Of course, in a hardcore shooter like Insurgency, wasting ammo is a sin. But as I storm up the beach of an Italian village with New World Interactive community manager Michael Tsarouhas screaming "chaaaarge" only to get cut down by a machine gun, I don't have much time to regret it.

Earlier this year, New World Interactive did something a little different when they released a total conversion mod that transformed the Middle-East setting of Insurgency into the familiar fronts of World War Two. Now that mod, Day of Infamy, is getting a full standalone release through Steam Early Access, bringing players back to a familiar era of "potato mashers", pings!, and British people calling Americans "yanks." Day of Infamy will introduce more maps, new weapons and features, and will only cost $20 when it releases in July. And after a few hours playing alongside its developers, I'm itching to storm some more beaches.

If you've never played Insurgency (which you should, it's great), Day of Infamy will likely be a slap in the face that stings as much as a Belgian winter. It's a hardcore multiplayer FPS that takes the spirit of something like Arma III and distills it into the more focused objective-based multiplayer most shooters revolve around. It's the type of shooter that emphasizes positioning over movement, and careful coordination over raw skill. In the snowy woods of Bastogne, Belgium, I barely ever glimpsed the Germans I was shooting at, and I certainly didn't see when one of them flanked my squad and sent us all to hell with a quick squeeze of the trigger on his STG-44.

Day of Infamy lays the foundation for a multiplayer shooter that, above all else, values teamwork and coordination.

But it's through that more punishing, slower-paced combat that Day of Infamy lays the foundation for a multiplayer shooter that, above all else, values teamwork and coordination. Each of the maps that we fought in had objectives that mostly resembled the kinds found in Insurgency. In Bastogne, for example, we fought for a neutral control point. If the enemy captured it, they could then push into our territory and capture a second point that would secure victory. As a team, we would need to simultaneously defend our own point while pushing to retake the neutral one and turn the tables.

Through all of this are Insurgency's reinforcement waves, which allows dead players on either side to respawn periodically and rejoin the fight. Each team only has a set number of waves, however, that they can replenish by capturing objectives. Just like in Insurgency, it's an excellent design that creates incredible moments of tension, like being the last man alive and capturing an objective, thus triggering the respawn of my entire team.

Day of Infamy isn't just a reskin of Insurgency with a greener color palette and some familiar weapons, though. There are new mechanics that have been added that make it a distinct shooter in its own right. Perhaps the most noticeable to a new player will be the constant barrage of mortar strikes that will obliterate anyone caught beneath them. Similar to Rising Storm, players can choose to play as the Officer in their squad, and with the help of another soldier—who can choose to forgo some equipment in favor of a radio—they can call in a strike.

Even though those same mortars blew me to bits on more than one occasion, I really enjoyed the way they'd interrupt the flow of combat or give rise to dramatic last stands. And they also highlight Day of Infamy's fantastic built-in voice communication. When speaking in local chat, enemies can overhear you if they're close enough, and I loved hearing them scream retreats when they heard the piercing whistle of mortars overhead.

I loved hearing [enemies] scream retreats when they heard the piercing whistle of mortars overhead.

Flamethrowers are another addition that can really sow destruction on the battlefield, but they also present some interesting targets of opportunity. If you manage to fire a high enough calibre round into the fuel pack, it explodes into flames. Lower calibre rounds can still do damage by causing the fuel to leak out, rendering the flamethrower useless. Though, I'll have to admit I was far too busy being burned alive by them to ever squeeze off an accurate enough shot.

With everything the standalone release brings to the table, Day of Infamy feels like a no-brainer to me. The emphasis on communication and squad cohesion makes for some terrific moments in the few hours that I've played, and New World Interactive has shown once again they know what makes for thrilling multiplayer combat. World War 2 might've been sucked dry by the FPS vampires of yesteryear, but Day of Infamy has me thinking there's some new blood pumping in those veins.