Classified: France ’44 Review – Vive la résistance!

Reviewed March 1, 2024 on PC


PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S


March 6, 2024


Team 17


Absolutely Games

While the setting of World War II is certainly well-trodden ground as far as video games go, Classified: France ’44 demonstrates that there are always compelling new stories to tell. The game maintains a tight focus around the real-life Operation Jedburgh, in which the Allies inserted American and British forces to bolster the French Resistance ahead of the D-Day invasion. Classified: France ’44 managed to keep me rather invested for its duration, as a fan of both historical fiction and turn-based strategy games, even if it lacks the depth of many of the games from which it has drawn inspiration.

It’s 1944, 65 days before the D-Day landings which would turn the tide of the Nazi occupation of France. To shore up the local resistance movements and destabilise the Nazi war machine to ensure the invasion’s success, small teams of allied soldiers were airdropped into France to commit acts of sabotage and other missions to aid the fight against the occupation as part of Operation Jedburgh. You play as one such squadron, starting out as a mere three-man team before steadily recruiting more members as the timer ticks ever closer to D-Day.

I found the presentation very fascinating. While each recruitable member doesn’t have the most depth in the world, you do get to learn more about them in enjoyable little interactions at base camp discussing their lives before the war and plans if they survive. The game also often provides interesting pieces of trivia about life in occupied France and the military technology of the era, which did a lot to immerse me in the setting and demonstrated that they definitely did the research for an authentic presentation of that place and time. There is a limit to the number of units you can recruit, with many recruit missions being picked at the expense of others. As such, it is certainly tempting to give the game another go at some point and recruit the characters I missed out on the first time around.

It’s easy and somewhat disingenuous to look at the combat in Classified: France ’44 and say “XCOM 2 in WWII!” and leave it at that. There are certainly a lot of parallels to Firaxis’ turn-based gem, from the cover mechanic to the metagame about taking over territory and tracking big boss characters in between missions, but that would be selling short some of the neat and unique features that Classified: France ’44 brings to the table. While the turn-based combat shares the moment-to-moment gameplay of guiding your units between pieces of cover and making shots at foes, it brings an interesting spin to the concept with the Morale system.

In addition to a health meter, each unit has a Morale meter, representing their will to carry on. Units with 50% or less of their Morale meter remaining are Suppressed and have the number of actions they can take next turn cut in half. If your Morale meter is reduced to 0, the unit is Broken and misses their next turn completely. While taking Health damage can also sap your Morale, simply getting shot at, even if the shots miss, reduces Morale as well. Although it can seem a bit unfair that enemies can essentially still damage you even when you’re in full cover, the enemy side plays by the exact same rules. Most importantly, it ensures that even if the RNG is determined to ruin your day and have your 90% to-hit shot go wide, you at least have a decent chance of Suppressing or Breaking your enemy and ensuring a better chance to hit next turn. It also kept the pacing up and ensured that neither side could simply remain in cover forever, and Morale automatically recovers by a certain amount each turn, making small reductions in Morale while in cover not a big deal.

One feature Classified: France ’44 notably lacks is permadeath. Units who lose all of their health can be revived for a limited time, or are forcibly retreated from the battlefield. While being unable to permanently lose any units did feel oddly “video gamey” in an otherwise grounded story centered around themes of sacrifice, it freed me up to take bold actions in combat without worrying too much about preserving my whole force. In the grand scheme of things, I think it was a worthwhile trade-off as far as providing a fun gameplay experience is concerned. Plus, the lingering injuries your units accumulate from being wiped out are tricky enough to treat and sufficiently disadvantageous that you definitely don’t want every brush with combat to be a suicide mission if you can help it.

Each recruitable unit has its own class, from Leaders who can buff their allies and restore Morale to Marksmen who specialise in long-ranged combat. Units have skill trees with a decent amount of flexibility to focus on different aspects, such as Morale damage, support or melee. I appreciated how the player is given agency over how they want to develop each unit around their preferred playstyle. You also have a limited ability to customise each unit’s appearance with purchasable clothing, which is segregated by your unit’s nationality for some reason.

One element of the game that I liked that I honestly wish there was more of was stealth. Again, not unlike XCOM 2, most missions start your units out in stealth, with the ability to pick off patrolling Feldgendarmerie with silent melee attacks and distraction abilities. Turn-based stealth is an interesting proposition that hasn’t been explored all that much in games, and Classified: France ’44 makes it quite engaging by making enemy sight lines, predicted next movements, and the amount of noise your actions will make, clear in the user interface.

There is always the chance of an enemy you haven’t spotted yet waltzing in and exposing you. However, the predictability of knowing the consequences of each action and what will happen on your enemy’s turn presented a fun puzzle to solve while you sneak and stab your way toward your objectives.

Unfortunately, one cannot have too much of a nice thing, and thus most missions only let you take down a small number of enemies in stealth before you are exposed and forced into open combat. Only a small number of levels allow you to sneak through the level in its entirety and slash Nazi throats with reckless abandon. I get that the gameplay focus is around the gunplay and the game needs to funnel the player towards it somehow. That said, considering how compelling the stealth was, I wish that more missions allowed more use of it, or at least enabled the player to re-enter stealth after being spotted by an enemy after taking down the witnesses.

In between missions, you must lend your aid to one of the three main resistance factions, the Gaullists, the Criminals and the Radicals. Completing missions in certain areas lets you establish that faction’s control over an area and unlock a permanent buff, such as improved recovery time from injuries or increased Morale damage. As the campaign progresses, Nazi commanders are assigned to districts and will launch reprisals after a certain number of days unless they are forced out. I liked how it added to my calculus about which missions to take, as any decision to take a mission and side with one faction could lead to costs for the other sides. The game has an impressively large number of diverse endings based on the overall strength of the resistance and which factions you favoured throughout the campaign.

What ultimately lets Classified: France ’44 down is a lack of real escalation in terms of threat level. At least on the default difficulty, while many levels were certainly challenging, individual enemies generally go down in one or two direct hits, making the game’s main way of increasing difficulty to be just sending more and more after you. There were not really any particularly memorable or unique set pieces or missions, with even the final mission set right before D-Day being a generic sabotage mission that could have taken place any time throughout the campaign. The one time a mission did have a unique and shocking outcome, the whole thing is resolved offscreen with no lasting consequences, which was rather disappointing. Furthermore, while I enjoyed the game’s soundtrack, the limited number of tracks (particularly during missions) resulted in no small amount of repetition, especially considering the campaign’s decently lengthy duration.

Classified: France ’44 also has a mission creator mode, in which players can craft entire levels, objectives, and enemy layouts and share them online. The system is still in beta at the moment, and from what I played of it, the system is a bit intimidatingly complex and somewhat buggy. A clearer tutorial walking the player through the mode’s unique controls and features may be desirable as it is further developed. All that said, the sheer depth of control that players have over tweaking every small element makes me hopeful that sufficiently creative players will be able to make some really cool stuff with it.




  • Impressively detailed historical setting
  • Decent amount of character customisation and replayability with multiple squad combinations and endings
  • Morale system presented interesting twist in familiar turn-based combat and kept the pacing up
  • Turn-based stealth was surprisingly engaging and I wish there was more of it


  • Missions lack much variety and don't escalate much in stakes or difficulty as the campaign progresses
  • Disappointingly small number of stealth-focused missions, making stealth-focused character upgrades feel a little underpowered
  • Rather repetitive soundtrack

Classified: France ’44 is rather good as both a turn-based combat experience and an exploration of one of history’s darkest periods. Whether you are sneaking around taking down Nazis from the shadows or heading in guns blazing, the game is fun and decently complex, with enough variety in terms of units to recruit and factions to side with to encourage multiple playthroughs. While the missions themselves start to blend together after a while, and the soundtrack could have stood to throw in one or two new battle themes for the sake of variety, I think any fan of history or turn-based combat is going to have a rather good time with Classified: France ’44, and I look forward to Absolutely Games hopefully building on this foundation with future games exploring different periods and settings.