For a series that’s over ten years old and has gone through multiple developers, publishers and even titles, Men of War has a surprisingly solid identity of its own. For example, the upcoming(recently pushed back to a 2023 release date, sadly) somehow manages to remain quintessentially a Men of War game despite coming out so long after the original.
Developer Best Way is certainly making the most of those intervening years, though. Technology has come a long way, and so has this franchise. During a recent showcase presented by Marketing Manager Michal Černoch, we got to see some new gameplay and features added to this instalment.
It being a, Men of War 2 features three primary factions: the US army, the Third Reich, and the Soviet Union. That Best Way, a Ukrainian company, is choosing to remain faithful to the historical portrayal of the Soviets speaks volumes about their dedication to facts and realism. Men of War 2 is intended to feel like a sim, a faithful depiction of the tactics used in large-scale warfare during the Second World War.
For example, the Front Line feature will see your army push forward, gaining ground and uncovering the Fog of War as you go. The further you advance, the more of the map you’ll see on the other side of that line, allowing you to plan and strategise as you claim territory. Your infantry can advance the Front Line, allowing you to establish dug-outs and gun emplacements while offering you a free view of everything on your side. Enemies that encroach on your territory will be visible to you, and you’ll be able to set up defensive cordons and vantage points to survey the surroundings.
While the top-down viewpoint lends itself to such planning, one of the most exciting additions is the Direct Control mode. In this mode, you can assume control of any unit in order to advance and fight in the mud alongside your forces. However, this is not “free damage” mode, Michal was quick to confirm. Units you control won’t receive buffs to speed or damage, while long-range guns you use will have as much of a chance to miss even with you at the helm. It’s more about experiencing the thrills of open war as it unfolds. Sadly, you also won’t be able to control planes. Aerial units will feature in the battles as air support you can call in, but Direct Control doesn’t work on them, so no strafing the enemy for funsies.
Although missions will follow history, including conflicts such as Operation: Overlord, Desert Storm, and D-Day, Men of War 2 will also feature a 5-player mode allowing for both competitive and cooperative play. You’ll be able to play skirmishes with perimeters that you set, on maps created with the Map Editor. In this Mode, you’ll have access to all assets in the game, and an “easy-to-use” interface will allow you to make your own battlegrounds.
During the campaigns you’ll find upgrades that you can then carry forward, such as newer models of vehicles and weapons, and new gear for troops. Men of War 2 features micromanagement by design, as vehicles can run out of fuel, and troops can run out of ammunition, requiring a constant shift of tactics and priorities. You will need to find or defend supply trucks, or loot enemy soldiers and vehicles to replenish your stock.
Even with the delayed release, there really isn't much available now or upcoming for Men of War 2 to compete with. While it's not wholly unique, the attention to detail and dedication to historical accuracy sets it apart from most contemporary war games. Perhaps its closest competitor is Company of Heroes 3, the recent beta of which showed off a similar passion for history and realism. That said, the games themselves are very different beasts, and Men of War 2 leans more towards large-scale confrontation than careful tactics.
There are no microtransactions at launch, though Michal hinted at the merest possibility of future content bringing in new battlegrounds and even new factions. Finally, full mod support at launch means we can expect to see some crazy community-made content. From Roman Centurions to laser guns, this is where realism goes out the window in favour of unbridled fun. Best Way intends to add more details to the already intricately-designed environments, such as small animals and wildlife. The environments are already fully destructible, adding even more depth to every encounter.
As the new 2023 release date draws closer, we can expect to see more details emerge from Best Way. Right now, one thing is certain: World War 2 never looked this good.
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