Monday, May 29, 2017

Steel Division: Normandy 44 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Steel Division: Normandy 44, a real-time strategy game by Eugen Systems and Paradox Interactive.

The game features three single-player campaigns of four missions each; the conflicts are large in scale, but they are presented in a linear order with no grand strategy on a large map of the region as in the later Wargame titles. Skirmish games against the AI and online contests are also available. There is a good number of detailed maps that scale according to the number of players. Before each match, you must design your battlegroup, choosing units (recon, infantry, tank, anti-tank, air, anti-air, artillery, and support) based on the division you are commanding. The two new innovations of Steel Division are compelling: three phase gameplay and the frontline. Each match is divided into three phases (A, B, and C) that determine which units in your battlegroup can be called into action (typically, more numerous and more powerful units can be brought in later). This adds another layer of strategy to battlegroup deck building. The frontline is displayed on the map (and used to determine victory points), giving a rough indication of where enemy units are. This is a much more effective mechanic for determining map control than placing a command unit in an arbitrary zone. Steel Division retains much of the game mechanics of Wargame (suppression, line of sight, supply, ballistics, units automatically attacking and finding cover), but operates at a slower overall pace and is thus more accessible. The AI is a quite capable opponent and will provide a good challenge offline. Through its approachable gameplay and various innovations, and despite a lackluster campaign mode, Steel Division: Normandy 44 improves upon the formula established by the Wargame series and is a must-play World War II real-time strategy game.