Preview

WarGame: European Escalation Preview (PC)

Eugen Systems - the guys who did R.U.S.E. last year - probably deserve an apology from me. The WW2 RTS was a decent stab at making a strategy game interesting on the console, and the technology behind it was superb. I was perhaps a little harsh with it though when it came to the review - I won't make that same mistake again. Those loveable Frenchman are back, this time partnering with Focus Home Interactive to bring you a new war-game called... Wargame.
 

Ahhh yeah, you know what time it is
Wargame: European Escalation is an alternative history scenario set during the escalation era of the cold war - 1975 - 1985, so this time it's NATO vs. the Warsaw Pact, set in and around Europe. Gone are the Sherman tanks, the rifles and the crude mortars, and in come the Apache's, the M1A1's and the MRLS's. Not quite the modern-setting that you typically get when not doing WW2 or post-WW2 conflicts (like Vietnam) but the toys you get will be pretty flashy.

Eugen see Wargame as the 'RPG' of strategy game. There's a lot more depth and detail here, from ammo, morale and localised armour/health zones, to the details on the weapons, and vehicles themselves in terms of optical systems, aiming, field of view... and there's even a logistics system in place for resupply troops that last a long time.

The technology behind Wargame is the same that powered R.U.S.E, only this time it's far more improved. The engine can render more objects, the maps can be bigger, and even the zoom function can get more up-close and personal. One of the (legitimate) drawbacks we had with R.U.S.E's engine was that it wasn't much to look at really zoomed in, but now that's changed. Environments look really well done, the vehicles are more realistic and highly detailed, and it looks like this game is going to be the perfect blend of top-down and up-close 'tactical' strategy.
 
The new engine really lets you get up close and personal...
The basic gameplay is going to be objective based, with each map split into territories which you can capture for bonuses and resources. Only command units can capture resources, and from what we can tell any unit can be designated as a command unit, but it will mean they will cost more to deploy. There's no limit on the amount of command units you can field either. There's going to be wide variety of different troops types, from airborne infantry and helicopters, to logistic vehicles to re-supply your units, to the standard variety of combat and artillery. The potential tactical flexibility of this game is probably going to be a key selling point.

Like R.U.S.E, there is no 'Fog of War' as is traditionally known in strategy games. The whole map is visible and open to you, but line of sight principles based on terrain means that you won't actually 'see' enemy units until you're closer to them (unless you have aerial recon or other similar devices). Even if a unit is within your line of site, if it's behind a thick bush, or other tall object, you still won't be able to see it, so there's an added tactical element there.

This is both a single-player and multiplayer offering - with 16 offline missions in two fully realised campaigns seen from both points of view (NATO and Warsaw Pact). We're told the campaign takes no moral "we're good, they're bad" stance, so no need to worry about another Americanised interpretation of the cold war. More than that we don't know, but so long as it's not as painfully obvious as R.U.S.E's campaign (sorry guys) then we'll be happy. The campaign will also be persistent as well, so you can build up the same troops over the course of the whole thing, Close Combat style.

We managed to get some details about the multiplayer portion of the game as well. We're told it's going to be deck based, with over 320 units to choose from, and you can field up to 25 of them on the map, and you're not locked by nationalities either. Initially, most of the units will be locked, but the more you play, the more points you get, and the more units you can unlock. They'll be clans and leaderboard support, upgrades and more. The devs also want to make sure there's a lot of mod support for this game as well, so PC fans rejoice!
 
It's about time someone did airborne infantry decently...

It's still early days for this game - what we saw was merely a tech demo with some small demonstrative engagements. The real test for this game will be in the larger battles, and in what else the game has to offer in terms of secondary features. In a way, it's a shame they seem to have gotten rid of the R.U.S.E system entirely, as that at least made that game stand out from other WW2 strategy games. The new engine looks great though. Wargame: European Escalation is due out on PC in Q4 2011.

Most Anticipated Feature: The newer weapon and vehicles - we've been waiting for a game that uses helicopters decently in combat situations.

Comments

By nocutius (SI Elite) on Sep 16, 2011
nocutius
Looks very nice. Will definitely try this one out when they have a beta or a free weekend on steam.

I'm a bit worried about decks. Can someone with a poor deck beat a fully decked player? I'm sure after a while everyone will have the best unit for the position and style of gameplay in their decks, so what is a noob supposed to do? I hope this is well balanced or some restrictions are in play, like low level players only get to play with other low level
players unless they specifically choose to play with everyone, or something like that.

I didn't really like R.U.S.E cause most online matches i played ended up being about who has more heavy artillery. The tactics might have changed in the meantime but it's too late for me. I played the beta.
By bosnian_dragon (SI Core) on Sep 18, 2011
bosnian_dragon
Interesting looking. I just hope they won't require those multiplayer "decks" to be bought as DLC.
By paelleon (SI Veteran Member) on Sep 22, 2011
paelleon
deck based? What a weird choice. So I'll be able to field BMPs and Leopard 2 togheter?
By paelleon (SI Veteran Member) on Sep 22, 2011
paelleon
deck based? What a weird choice. So I'll be able to field BMPs and Leopard 2 togheter?
By zach55552222 (I just got here) on Oct 02, 2011
zach55552222
awesome game