Soldier walking through forest
They're like this, but in video game version. You get it.
Soldier walking through forest
They're like this, but in video game version. You get it.

What Are Military Simulator Video Games?

Currently Drinking:

If you’re anything like me, you can’t stay playing one game for longer than 10 minutes it seems. I love most of the games I play, but I just can’t stay playing the same game. I know I promised to beat the list of games I took into this year, but… that didn’t happen. Oops.

I thought I had played nearly every genre. RPG (and its many subgenres), racing, sports, shooters, TBS, and everything else. And then I heard about Milsims. Oh boy, did I hear about them.

I’ve played many first-person shooters. In fact, it’s one of my favorite genres. I’ve played nearly every Call of Duty ever made. Some better than others. Just on Modern Warfare 2019 alone, I have 200 hours boasting a 1.1 K/D (it would be better, but probably 100 of those hours were spent very, very drunk).

But Milsims aren’t FPS. They’re like FPS, but for adults with day jobs. No Fortnite kids allowed.

Milsim is short for Military Simulator. It’s virtual LARPing for people who love weaponized combat. Like online airsoft, basically.

But dammit are they fun. They’re way more tactical than CoD. You can’t just run and gun. Well, you can, but you’ll die pretty quick. Strategy and teamwork are imperative to winning in Milsims. And communication, too.

Not all of them are the same, either. The most popular ones are Arma 3, Hell Let Loose, Insurgency: Sandstorm, and Enlisted. Many in this genre aren’t expensive, and some are even free (Enlisted being one).

Some are set with modern-day combat and weapons, and some are historic wars. I have yet to find a good one for any war older than WWII, however, I’m sure more than one is in the works.

What makes them different than typical FPS? Well, everything except the very basics of the style – first-person shooting. The weapons customization is much more in-depth, the combat is different, and the play styles couldn’t be further apart.

Your loadouts are made up of real weapons with real attachment names. No more ‘red dot’, but instead four or five different red dots, all with their real names. And in many games, your loadout affects more than just what gun you’re shooting. The more attachments, the heavier the gun, and the slower you are. And, in games like Insurgency, if you take up more slots on your primary weapon, you have fewer slots in the rest of your loadout, including armor, grenades, and secondary weapon attachments.

Combat isn’t for the weak. It’s frustrating and rewarding. You have to be precise in every action. If you don’t check one corner, you’re dead. If you give away where you’re at with your tracer rounds, you’re dead. If you pop on top of a building without ducking, you’re dead. But on that same note, kills are easier in the sense that they only take one or two taps, no shields, no ‘Halo hops’, no Fortnite building. Just you and them, the better shooter wins (or gets picked off by a sniper).

The objectives you play for aren’t the same either. In Enlisted, for example, if you’re the Allied forces storming the beach at D-Day, you have to capture specific objectives on the way through the invasion, pushing back the opposition. In Insurgency, you must capture, defend, and destroy strategic points in modern urban combat. It’s not like Call of Duty or Battlefield, where you can capture and lose multiple points at a time. It’s one objective at a time. If your team dies before the successful defense of the captured point, you lose that round and have to start all over again.

Communication is a must-have in these scenarios. With limited HUD and realistic gameplay based on sound (both of enemies’ footsteps and shots and your teammates’ voices), many of this style require a good headset in order to be fairly successful. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll still play other styles. I mean, who doesn’t love mindlessly grinding skills in RuneScape as a break from more violent, hands-on games? I have found an affinity for a new style. I’m definitely not the greatest at this new genre, so if you have any tips or tricks, please feel free to let me know!

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