BySimon Rune Knudsen, writer at Creators.co
A tryhard person enthusiastic about dad rock and weird beers.
Simon Rune Knudsen

World War II is a familiar backdrop for the world of video games and for good reason. If you're planning to create a game somewhat rooted in modern reality, no conflict, war or time period in general comes close to being as crucial, sinister and world-defining as humanity's last Great War.

As a player, you know the stakes are extremely high when landing on Omaha Beach, participating in the siege of Berlin or fruitlessly defending Pearl Harbor. This is the fight for the world as we know it today and failure will result in something like the setting in the confusing TV-series The Man In High Castle.

Ranking The 8 Best D-Day Video Game Levels

[Credit: Activision]
[Credit: Activision]

These games remind us how things can get out of hand if good people do nothing when evil blooms. Perhaps that's why the Call of Duty Franchise is returning to the setting.

Though every single day of World War II was filled with plenty of horror and despair, a particular set of hours are depicted in video games more often than any other. June 6 a.k.a. D-Day initiated Operation Overlord, the invasion of the European mainland by landing on the beaches of Normandy with some 130,000 soldiers and dropping more than 20,000 airborne troops behind enemy lines.

It is the largest seaborne invasion in history. The sheer scale of the conflict is perfect material for countless amazing and terrifying video game levels. And boy have we seen some gripping depictions of these historical hours, even though we kind of got fed up with World War II shooters for a while.

Below, we've compiled a list ranking the 8 best D-Day levels in video games.

8. Company Of Heroes Mission Albany

[Credit: Sega]
[Credit: Sega]
  • Release year: 2006
  • Platform: PC and Mac
  • Controlled Unit: Fox Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

The U.S. 101st Airborne Division's Parachute Regiment, famously depicted in Band of Brothers, was dropped behind enemy lines late at night before the main landings on the beaches of Normandy. Their goal was to disrupt the anti-air equipment on the ground and secure the roads leading to Omaha Beach, preventing German reinforcements.

This level in Company of Heroes captures that crucial night mission, codenamed Albany, splendidly. The RTS combat style is perfect for the complex goals of the mission, as it lets your troops guard the roads and destroy Nazi anti-air weaponry at the same time.

7. Call Of Duty — Securing Pegasus Bridge

  • Release year: 2003
  • Platform: PC and Mac initially, later remade for PS3 and Xbox 360
  • Controlled Unit: 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, 6th Airborne Brigade

The members of the 6th Airborne were the very first units to arrive in France as part of Operation Overlord, landing 15 minutes past midnight on June 6, 1944. Their objective was to secure Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal, which prevented German forces approaching the beach where Allied troops would land just a few hours later.

7 minutes after landing, the bridge was secured by the British forces. The swiftness and effectiveness of the mission is depicted with precision in Call of Duty’s first British-led mission.

6. Conker's Bad Fur Day — Slaughtered On "Omaha Beach"

[Credit: Rare]
[Credit: Rare]
  • Release year: 2001
  • Platform: Nintendo 64 (with a remake called Conker: Live & Reloaded on Xbox from 2005)
  • Controlled Unit: Conker himself

In the vulgar and surprisingly violent Conker's Bad Fur Day your main character is drafted into a war between grey squirrels and a Nazi-like group of teddy bears known as the Tediz. You find yourself on a landing craft much like those seen in Saving Private Ryan, and soon your grey squirrel comrades start dying left and right as you exit the boats to storm the beach.

At the end of the game, Conker succeeds in destroying the Tediz Empire, single-handedly ending the war between grey squirrels and teddy bears. This isn't really World War II, but the references are obvious and the gory detail is so realistic we couldn't leave out this gem.

5. Call Of Duty 2 — Battle Of Point Du Hoc

  • Release year: 2005
  • Platform: PC and Mac, later made for Xbox 360
  • Controlled Unit: Dog Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion

The goal of D, E and F company on D-Day was to scale the cliffs between Omaha and Utah Beach in order to destroy the gun emplacements there. This meant using ladders and grappling hooks while taking heavy German fire, resulting in some really bloody fighting.

The level in Call of Duty 2 exemplifies this perfectly. It even details the fact that the gun emplacements had been moved, making the entire mission somewhat fruitless when you take into account the many Allied losses. Luckily, two small patrols sent inland were able to find the hidden cannons and destroy them with thermite, while the rest of the Rangers held Pointe Du Hoc from counterattacks throughout the rest of the day.

4. Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 — Jump Off Over Normandy

[Credit: Ubisoft]
[Credit: Ubisoft]
  • Release year: 2005
  • Platform: PS 2, Xbox, PC and Mac
  • Controlled Unit: 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

This mission captures the confusion of war and showcases that even a grand plan conceived by the greatest military and strategic minds of the Western World can go bottoms up thanks to bad weather.

The mission opens with your plane being ripped to shreds by anti-aircraft fire. Parachuting down way off target with your equipment lost, the first mission is a lonely few minutes spent creeping through the fields of France. Gunfire, screams and explosions are heard far off in the distance as you attempt to find your squad from Nazi soldiers.

3. Company Of Heroes — Assault On Omaha Beach

  • Release year: 2006
  • Platform: PC and Mac
  • Controlled Unit: 116th Infantry, 29th Infantry Division

While many games have depicted the terrors of the landing on Omaha Beach, few have been able to capture the scale of it all as well as Company of Heroes. Thanks to the game being an RTS, it could fit a lot more characters on screen than Medal of Honor or Call of Duty and the game's cover mechanics were essential for the brutal mission.

Company of Heroes depicts A Company working their way up to the bunker defences of the Atlantic Wall under heavy machine gun fire. Bursting through the defences thanks to engineer demolition work, A Company secures the the beach for the Allies. In real life, things didn't go that smoothly. A Company was almost decimated, and it would take the combined strength of both A, B, C and D Company to win the beach after five hours of non-stop fighting.

2. Call Of Duty — Dropping Down In Sainte-Mère-Église

[Credit: Activision]
[Credit: Activision]
  • Release year: 2003
  • Platform: PC and Mac initially, later remade for PS3 and Xbox 360
  • Controlled Unit: Pathfinder team 1, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

Once again featuring the legendary 506th Parachute Regiment, the very first mission of Call of Duty was something else. It's a silent, thoughtful opener to a game that would be all fire and death from that point on. As a part of the Pathfinder team, your goal was to set up Eureka radar beacons to help the rest of the 506th land somewhat safely.

And though the game doesn't really touch on the fact that all parachute drop coordination went out the window thanks to bad weather, the subsequent house-to-house clearing action is depicted with terrifying precision. The 506th spent six hours battling the German 1058th Grenadier Regiment, trying to gain control of the lands leading down to the beaches of Normandy.

1. Metal Of Honor: Allied Assault — Landing On Omaha Beach

[Credit: EA Games]
[Credit: EA Games]
  • Release year: 2002
  • Platform: PC, Mac and Linux
  • Controlled Unit: C Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion

This was the first time that the horror of D-Day was taken from the pages of history books and put into startling video game form. Even though the beach would only be filled by a handful of soldiers, the roaring sounds of war, the random death happening all around and the constant machine gun fire would immerse the player way more than any game before it.

It's no secret that Medal of Honor: Allied Assault borrowed heavily from the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, but it didn't really matter with action this intense. Playing as a soldier from C Company, some of the first guys in the water and on the ground of Omaha Beach, the game truly captured the terror of frontline war. Though it all went a bit faster (the mission would be over in 15 minutes) than in real life, where the it took the Allied Forces 5 hours to secure the beach.

What is the greatest D-Day level you ever played in a video game?

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