Eugen Systems has a long history with wargames and real-time strategy and so it comes as no surprise that they teamed up with publisher Paradox Interactive, who are seemingly turning from niche strategy publishers to outright strategy big boys in the industry.
Steel Division Normandy 44 is a real-time strategy that pits you in the midst of the Normandy campaign during World War 2. While labelled as an RTS the game share many elements with Eugen’s previous series Wargame.
All of Steel Divisions mechanics revolve around a line of sight system that changes as the front lines of the battlefield change. This visual Hearts of Iron style system not only shows the ongoing front line of a battlefield but it is a clear indicator of what territory and capture points are under control.
Before any battle, the squads you want to take into battle must be chosen from a selection of available forces depending on your chosen battalion type. Fielding units works off a point system that increases as the battle progresses, each unit costs a certain amount of points to field. This means that as the battle progresses you must adapt to the changing front lines and reinforce where needed with the unit type needed to counter your enemy.
This is where the game starts to show some holes, particularly in the multiplayer. The counter, anti-counter balance of Eugen’s prior Wargame series does not hold sway in Steel Division. Sadly, the meta in the current build of the title allows players to hard push with artillery, exploit the limited and simplistic morale mechanic and ensure that enemy troops are constantly falling back. This is also true with air units and the anti-air units are so underpowered currently that a hard push with a squadron of fighters can easily tackle the toughest AA unit with just a few bombs. This leaves multiplayer with players focusing on artillery and air builds leaving newer players to build roosters designed to lose before they have even begun.
Other than the clear balance issues which can no doubt be fixed with some patching; the game does provide an addictive enjoyable experience. The multiplayer and single player both have their merits but the multiplayer stands out more. The 10 versus 10 match ups can go from well executed team work to chaotic fun and the sheer scale of the multiplayer is impressive.
The single player provides a nice way to learn the basics of the game and provide a nice story driven experience. What the single player does lack however, is some decent voice acting and both the writing and voice acting for the campaign is abysmal. I certainly would argue however the single player is almost required given the fairly large learning curve this game has for newer players, it is not a game where you want to dive into multiplayer without learning a thing or two, particularly how to build an effective army rooster.
Performance & Graphics
One thing can be said for Steel Division is that it looks fantastic from top to bottom. The maps are built from actual real life air shots of world war 2 Normandy and are faithfully replicated well. The problems lie in the performance of the game, which while it can run well for higher end machines, mid-range machines can begin to struggle at certain moments in the game. The multiplayer can cause an array of issues regardless of how decked out your PC is, the multiple disconnects, desyncs and smaller connectivity issues can make an enjoyable experience frustrating.
Minimum System Requirements:
o OS:64-bit Windows 10 / 8.1 / 7 with Service Pack
o Processor: Intel Core i3-2100 (3.1 GHz) or equivalent
o Memory: 3 GB RAM
o Graphics: 1 GB AMD 5570 or nVidia 450
o Hard Drive: 32 GB HD space
o Sound: Direct X- compatible soundcard
Recommended System Requirements:
o OS: 64-bit Windows 10 / 8.1 / 7 with Service Pack 1
o Processor: Intel i5-2300 or equivalent
o Memory: 4 GB RAM
o Graphics: 2GB AMD 7970 or nVidia 770 or greater
o Hard Drive: 32 GB HD space
o Sound: Direct X-compatible soundcard
Steel Division does have some in built flaws that are going to need patched out if Eugen want this game to stick around long term. That said, the core of a fantastic game is here and the majority of the game is as addictive as it is fun. Reinforcing your front lines, sending troops to capture buildings and raining down fire on tank divisions never really gets old.
There’s certainly some frustration to be had in the multiplayer but it has a spark of ingenuity and fun that few wargames and RTS’s have over their entire lifespan. There’s some real gold to be had in Steel Division, Eugen just need to patch and refine the balance and it should please nearly every player out there eventually.
STEEL DIVISION: NORMANDY 44 VERDICT
A solidly enjoyable title that has balance issues that need patching but otherwise a good investment for fans of the genre.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Raining down artillery made hell.
Price and Purchase
Steel Division Normandy 44 can be picked up on GMG for $39.99 USD.
Good core mechanics
Large unit rooster
Systems like Morale are over simplistic and cause frustration.