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Six Days in Fallujah Early Access Review – Promising Start

Six Days in Fallujah is a first-person tactical shooter developed by Highwire Games and published by Victura. This is based on the Second Battle of Fallujah which took place over six days in November 2004 during the Iraq War. This features some of the more realistic squad communication and tactics that I have personally played, and I have enjoyed my time in the game immensely. There are only four missions, and they are played at random, but their layouts are procedurally generated each time, so each run feels fresh.

The description of the game on Steam states this is based on true stories of Marines, Soldiers, and Iraqi civilians. Being early access, there is no campaign mode yet and we can only run multiplayer missions. There is an introductory cutscene which shows accounts from real marines and soldiers who fought in Fallujah during that time, and these really set the tone of how unpredictable and dangerous each mission was for the coalition soldiers. I hope we get to hear from the other coalition solders and Iraqi civilians by the time the campaign rolls around to also have their perspectives in player’s minds when tackling these missions.

The game was originally announced in 2009 for a 2010 release, but it was met with controversy being announced too close to the real wartime period and was consequently canceled in 2015. The game concept was recently revived by Victura and Highwire Games in 2021, and it launched on Steam early access on June 22, 2023. I have played solo with random players as well as duos with Johnny and the action is intense, reminding me of playing 2003’s Delta Force: Black Hawn Down, only much more intense close combat. Six Days runs very smooth on my PC, and I only had a handful of jolts intermittently and an occasional crash to desktop, but this is to be expected for early access.

When you create or join a lobby and get matched up with a squad of four players, you don’t know which mission you will get until a short cutscene reveals the primary objective. Launching into the mission, you will start at a safe distance next to an APC. The easiest and most predictable mission is the one where you defend your convoy. The other missions require you and your squad to clear areas, disabling IEDs, rescuing a downed soldier, securing a compound, and other objectives. Each run is therefore unpredictable and keeps things interesting even though it’s a random selection amongst the four mission types. It sounds repetitive but it really isn’t, and I had far more failed runs than successes. Successful mission extractions gains you squad rank and the higher rank you are, the more often you will take the leader position in the squad. The leader can assign roles to other players in the squad.

Six Days in Fallujah requires strong communication amongst the squad, and so has its own voice chat built in and recommends you disable third party voice programs like Discord. In the lobby, voice chat is open mic, and when you are in game, it’s open mic when you are close to soldiers but push to talk when you move away. At first, I found this confusing – “do I need to press PTT, or can you hear me?” “I can hear you.” We then crossed to both sides of a road and the volume of voice chat dropped so I could barely hear Johnny. I ran over to him and could hear him fine, then we moved to the next block where he entered a building, and I stayed outside to guard the entry and I lost comms.

We couldn’t hear each other unless we used PTT, and the voice came over as if it was on radio. It took us several missions to get used to this, but it is what I imagine real-life combat noise to reflect. When you are in earshot of your mates, you can shout to each other. But when bullets start flying or you get split up, naturally you won’t hear your voices so must rely on radio. Once we understood that it helped us communicate better as we moved through the scenarios. It feels really good when your squad has a reasonable grasp of the chaos of the battle around you and all four of you are laying down fire and communicating well.

We also loved the different effects on sound as we moved from the open outdoors, to breaching a door and going room-to-room inside a building. The sounds and voices echoed in confined spaces, and opening fire almost deafened us until the firing stopped. These effects really added to realism for us, and anytime we peaked around a corner and were shot at really put us on alert. Getting shot can drastically affect how you are able to continue playing. A glancing shot will cause your vision to blur slightly and a warning flash to take cover. Get behind cover, wait for your character to settle and get back in the fight.

If you take several body shots, you start to bleed and you must again find cover, bandage up which takes time and then get back to the fight. If you are critically wounded, you will have a short time to get healed up by a teammate before you bleed out. If you or a couple of you ultimately get killed, the surviving squad members can run back to the APC and respawn the downed soldiers back into the fight. This is where squad communication and working together becomes key in Six Days in Fallujah.

One aspect of heavy close quarters combat that was frustrating was that when you were shot hard, but you kept on firing, your weapon lowers and you end up just spraying the ground despite the fact that your crosshair is still aiming at the enemy. I would prefer to just be killed if I’m getting shot in a critical way. Similarly, if I walked up to a window ledge where my crosshair was in the window gap and I start hip firing my weapon, it was shooting the wall below and not the enemy. It wasn’t until I switched to iron sights that the bullets went where the crosshair was pointing. It took some getting used to.

Six Days in Fallujah has a solid multiplayer foundation with just these four missions on a random rotation that creates a very immersive experience. Teamwork is critical and so is communication and when one of those pillars isn’t working, you’re destined for failure. The developers have released a roadmap of updates for the rest of the year, and I am very much looking forward to night missions and weather effects coming in Q3 and an additional co-op mission and more systemic variables within missions in Q4.

Six Days in Fallujah is out now on Steam early access with plans for console releases sometime in 2024. Q1 2024 will see the first story campaign mission, civilians in co-op and campaign and an additional co-op mission. While Q2 2024 will see special operator missions, we can play as other coalition nationalities and more co-op and story campaign missions. It’s certainly going to be a game I come back to regularly as major content is added.

This early access review utilised a key provided by Victura.


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