Preview

Silent Hunter Online Preview (PC)

It’s generally accepted that ‘massively’ online games, by necessity, have to have longer pacing than most other games. The more cynical browser-based products like FarmVille etc all want to keep you hooked and paying up as long as possible, but even the more 'serious' offerings realise that (much like their older MMO Cousins) they are in it from the long haul. Given then that there's only so much content you can prepare for a release, it's vital that this content lasts for the maximum amount of time possible. Oddly enough, this kind of thinking fits perfectly for a game like Silent Hunter Online.

Combining the drawn-out, patience-requiring set-pieces of submarine warfare with the need to offer gameplay segments that can span over several days, Silent Hunter Online offers as much of the core Silent Hunter experience as they can fit into a flash-based browser product. Whilst it’s very stripped down (there’s no walking around the sub like in Silent Hunter 5, for example, although you can go out to the observation deck), it’s more of a sense of going ‘back to basics’ then running on a skeleton crew. At its core, you've got the main submarine interface, which is a static 2D interface and fairly low-tech but with a periscope that gives you access to a full 3D rendered view of the outside (using the Silent Hunter 5 engine we believe).


The key thing about Silent Hunter Online is that you don’t need to have previously been a budding amateur sub-commander to actually get into the game and play it. A feature the team were keen to highlight were the 'Officers' – each section or major task in the running of your submarine has an officer assigned to it, sort of an AI-controlled posse. Everything in the game can either be done manually, or you can ask the relevant officer do it for you. Take combat for example, a core component of the game that’s done in real time: once you’ve found your target, you need to plot a course, mark it on the map, calculate torpedo trajectories… and a whole host of other technical bits and bobs that honestly went right over my head. What didn’t though was the knowledge that you can delegate most of these more fiddly tasks to the Officers.

This scale of depth will be instrumental in allowing newcomers (or even old-timers who are a little rusty) to ease themselves into the game bit by bit... plus it even gets a good sense of role-play going in your head, as a real sub-captain wouldn't do everything himself anyway. Even the planner looks authentic, and uses properly authentic tools for all of the calculations. The other important element of the game is the wider strategic campaigns and the management aspect – individual missions form part of a larger, multi-part and dynamic campaign were you slowly win the ‘initiative’ over the allies, allowing you to unlock later missions. The enemy also responds to how well you’re doing, with more and more ships and escorts working in ‘convoy’ the more active you are in an area.

Managing your submarines is the final component – you will have a main base of operations where you must return to refuel and rearm your sub, but also manage the crew and officers, and outfit your sub with various modifications. In Solo-play, you can command more than one sub, so provided you get enough resources (at the moment, we’ve only really been told about the premium currency and the in-game prestige points), you can buy a newer, better hull from headquarters and then buy components to make it better, whether it be a new rudder or a faster engine, to bigger torpedoes.


And we haven’t even begun to talk about the online or 'co-operative' component that SHO boasts, which is kind of the whole point of the product. As an individual player you can control several subs at once in your own personal flotilla, you can also join up with four other players and form 'wolfpacks', and work together to complete missions in the campaigns. All of the tactics that you can do solo, with your personal pack, apply here too, and we imagine working together to bring off a coordinated, multi-pronged attack is going to feel quite special. There’s also an incentive for veterans to help out newer players do the earlier missions, as the enemy AI can claw back the advantage if you neglect certain missions areas, and if that happens, it makes the latter missions that much harder.

This is no mere scaled down/port of Silent Hunter 5 – SHO has been specifically geared for the free-to-play online space, and is a carefully woven network of incentives, pacing and the odd-micro transaction. It’s not all about ‘waiting’ for things to happen though – there’s natural time compression built into the base game, and we think purchasing speed-ups or whatever will be part of the business model. Considering you’ll be playing this game around your life anyway, and It’s built so that it doesn’t play without you, it’d be an easy thing to just wait and schedule it in. One of the more interesting BlueByte online titles, and one worth keeping an eye on.

Most Anticipated Feature: Will be interesting to see how ‘exciting’ individual mission can get.

Comments

By lichlord (SI Core) on Aug 15, 2012
lichlord
i can't even believe they are turning every kind of game into some worthless online mmo i even wonder if they know most of the u-boats were lone wolf hunter not pack hunters ofc i can imagine theyve done a few coops but this tss...
By FoolWolf (SI Elite) on Aug 16, 2012
FoolWolf
Social gaming, mmo's, Facebook status in game, after game during game blah blah blah....

Kinda disheartening...
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Aug 16, 2012
nocutius
Well the wolfpacks were quite standard after the Americans started to use their heads, so I don't really see a problem with that. I'm sure there will be plenty of solo missions as well.

The real problem is in the monetization of the game, it all comes down to how restrictive and costly it's gonna be.
By lichlord (SI Core) on Aug 16, 2012
lichlord
i got no facebook and im serious about it try n find someone who can say that these days :/ and yes i conscenciously chosen not to start that facebook crap tbh
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Aug 16, 2012
nocutius
I have an account but I log in like 2 times a year. It was a mistake creating it but what's done is done, you can never get rid of any info you put there.
By lichlord (SI Core) on Aug 16, 2012
lichlord
exactly whatever you put their is to be seen by millions i don't like that prospect call me a hermit but those milloins does include ur teacher,coworkers,parents,bosses n sh*t they do use it to spy on you as the media does with politicians then you get that crap of their sex life on the news... i am not interested in that kind of crap all i need to know is that they are doing their promises when we voted on em.... just an example....
By FoolWolf (SI Elite) on Aug 16, 2012
FoolWolf
Well, you can pretty much decide who sees what - but for me that isn't the issue - I don't play PC games to brag - nor do I wish to share it with everyone neither.
The focus to go ├╝bersocial and having to turn off all he bells and whistles and uploads and extras - gah...
By JustCommunication (SI Core) on Aug 19, 2012
JustCommunication
Just to be clear guys, this isn't a Facebook game or anything like that. Yes, it's accessed by a browser, but it's just a flash interface and can be accessed from anywhere.
By FoolWolf (SI Elite) on Aug 21, 2012
FoolWolf
It doesn't really have to to be a social thing - now adays most games have the little "F" or the "T" symbol for Facebook and Twitter so you can upload to your status if you want. Dragon Age have the social pages where you can directly save and upload badges and save statuses to your front pages...
I don't recall how much is actually put to do that by default but I do remember having to shut down several services...