Real-time strategy games come in plenty of flavors. There are some that focus on sci-fi universes such as "Halo Wars 2" and "Grey Goo." Some like Creative Assembly's "Total War: Warhammer" dabbles in a fantasy universe. And of course, there's the old Blizzard stand-bys -- "Warcraft III" and "StarCraft II."
The common thread for these RTS titles is that they all tend to be very gamelike. Although there have been historical takes on the genre such as "Company of Heroes." Few have tried to make a game that tries to be a war game simulation. That's where Eugen Systems comes in with "Steel Division Normandy 44." The makers of "RUSE" and "Act of Aggression" have done their research and created a project that creative director Alexis le Dressay said is a very "tactical game, very high expectation in terms of authenticity."
The maps are based on actual reconnaissance observations made during World War II. The team recreated the battlefield from that era and filled it with units that act like the real-life counterparts. That means when players choose their allied or axis division it has an impact on the strategy and the terrain holds tremendous importance. In a match between the 101st Airborne Division and the 21st Panzer Division, the Americans have to run out quickly on the map and set up ambush points. That's because they'll be an advantage when going face to face with the enemies armor.
They take up positions behind bushes along roads and they wait for enemy troops to move in. It's an effective tactic against armor and gives troops one of the few advantages.
The goal for each battle isn't necessarily to destroy the other team's base. In fact, that's hard to do when there aren't any established bases. Each division has a set amount of troops according to how players set them up and which group they picked. In "Steel Division," there are nine allied divisions and nine axis divisions. Over the course the match, more troops are introduced in phases going from A to B to C. In general, the weakest units start off in A and progressively, they get stronger.
That adds a layer of strategy as players weigh the number of C units to A units. Players can own the map early on with a deluge of A units but they could give all that ground up if their opponent stocked up on later phase armor. They can potentially roll through them in the late game. Territory is the ultimate decider of a game. The side with the most land at the end of the match wins. Players can easily see how they're doing through the shifting battlefield lines.
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"It's all about tactics over twitch," said producer Peter Cornelius. "It's about making the best decisions. You beat the opponents because you made smarter decisions not faster ones."
That means players should pin down opponent troops with machine gun fire or artillery blasts. Before sending in valuable tanks, it's best to send a reconnaissance aircraft because just like in real-life the armored vehicles don't have a great line of sight. Tactics like stressing a platoon and flanking them works in "Steel Division."
In addition, ammo is a factor in combat. It's especially important with artillery and requires support units like supply trucks. In most RTS games, units have unlimited ammo, and the one element they worry about is the cool down on special moves. With "Steel Division," logistics are just as important as combat maneuvers.
The developers said there will be a single-player, which features three armies -- the Americans, the British and the Germans. Eugen Systems says the multiplayer modes support up to 10 versus 10.
Expect to see "Steel Division Normandy 44" later this year.
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