Rising Storm is a realistic first person shooter. All of the core gameplay mechanics from Red Orchestra 2 are present, such as the cover system and bullet drop. Rising Storm brings in a whole new arsenal of weapons, that relate to the American and Japanese weaponry used in the Pacific Theater, such as the M1 Garand and the Type 38 rifle. Gameplay has been described by Tripwire as asymmetrical, due to the Japanese having inferior weaponry to the Americans to maintain historical accuracy. To balance the teams out, the Japanese are given the Knee Mortar, along with the ability to plant grenades as booby traps, and being able to launch Banzai charges at the Americans, which in turn deals suppression onto the Americans while the Japanese suffer less from suppression themselves. The Americans are also given the M2 flamethrower to flush the Japanese out of strongly fortified positions. They also benefit from a wide range of automatic firearms such as the M1918 BAR and the M1919 Browning. The game still features the Squad Leader who uses a sub-machine gun (Americans have the M1A1 and the Japanese the type 100)
Rising Storm features four playable factions, including the United States Marine Corps, the U.S. Army, the Imperial Japanese Army, and the Special Naval Landing Force. The game takes the player around the Pacific with maps varying from the Battle of Peleliu, with a desert-island type environment, to the Battle of Saipan at Charan Kanoa, an urban environment, to the Battle of Iwo Jima and the like.