Interview: Men Of War: Assault Squad

By Jim Rossignol on June 8th, 2010 at 7:22 pm.


DigitalMindSoft’s CEO Chris Kramer recently got in touch with us to insist that we talk to him about recently announced co-op/skirmish semi-sequel Men Of War: Assault Squad. We let out a long sigh, to pretend we weren’t puppyishly excited, and then began our questioning. You can discover the results below.

RPS: Hero units?! Isn’t that a bit out of keeping with the general rough realism of the game?

Kramer: Sounds frightening for hardcore fans, doesn’t it? What we mean with heroes, are companies or individuals that had a big impact on certain battles during the war, or equipment that was seen extremely rare on the battlefield in general. In fact, by adding this system to both skirmish and multiplayer, we will see rare tanks much less than we did in Men of War and thus increase realism. In skirmish you have one type of hero to choose from, he has better equipment and skills but no ‘special abilities’, if he’s dead, he’s dead. In multiplayer you choose out of 6 special units, of which some are less powerful than others, but they will drain less of your special unit resources (which are extremely rare) and are available earlier in the game.

So players have to choose wisely, for instance between a well-equipped infantry of sorts that will be available during early- or mid-game or a super heavy unit that could possibly come out too late to have an impact on the result of the game at all. So it’s an interesting decision between trying to defeat your enemy quickly with units like Veteran Snipers or Goliaths or trying to assure your victory close to the end of the match with a unit like a KV-2, Veteran Tiger and similar.

In Addition, our resource system has been reworked so heavy tank spam is prevented and everything beyond a Tiger or Pershing won’t be seen very often with standard game settings. So it may sound very arcade, but both features combined provide a more realistic and interesting gameplay at the same time.

None-the-less, for people who don’t like it, we integrated custom settings in multiplayer that allow to disable all such units or super heavy tanks in general. Or contrary to that, allow to set up a game with lots of super-heavies to have big slugfests.


RPS: How do you feel about the way Men Of War was received by Western audiences? I mean, previous games from Best Way seemed to gain some critical favour, but there seemed to be real excitement about Men Of War – is that true?

Kramer: We are very happy with how well Men of War has done in reviews and the general feedback of our users. Even a year after release, we have a steady increase of new players to the game, though in my opinion we are still below the potential publicity and excitement we can achieve with the series. This is something we are trying very hard to change with Men of War: Assault Squad.

RPS: Can you talk a bit about why you decided to produce Assault Squad? Do you really think there’s enough of an audience for a multiplayer-focused RTS of this kind?

Kramer: Actually I think it’s the future of the market as a whole, whether people wish to share their singleplayer achievements online with friends, play cooperative missions with them, or set up competitive matches with random players. They all can be connected through a much more online focused game without leaving anyone out. The skirmish mode with its 15 missions for 5 factions generates a lot of offline singleplayer value as well. So regarding the reason why we decided to produce Assault Squad, we have a lot of trust in this concept. We’ve seen how well the online community of Men of War is doing and we see a lot of potential to make Men of War a lot better than it is. In fact, we will push even harder into this direction in the future.


RPS: The idea of being able to set up skirmish co-op games with friends online sounds intriguing – can you talk exactly what sort of options we’ll have available? Perhaps talk through the user experience a bit?

Kramer: Our skirmish is not just random bots vs. player on the very same multiplayer maps everyone knows, for each faction we have 3 huge exclusive maps that are filled with strategic points to capture over extremely diversified landscapes. These points provide new units and resources players can use. Also of great importance is that players share their budget and spend it together to buy new troops. The options we give players is to choose between 5 nations (USA, Germany, Soviet Union, Commonwealth, Japanese Empire) and 4 difficulty modes, ranging from easy to heroic. The higher the difficulty mode the less resources players have right from the start and the more the AI will vary its forces. That means, new players may start off with easy, once they improved their skills and are up for the next challenge, they will try skirmish on normal, now the AI will use different type of units and more powerful ones, the same will happen when changing from normal to hard, those people who are up for the ultimate challenge play heroic and face a furious AI throwing the best of the best at you. So in each difficulty mode you will see different equipment used by the enemy, increasing the longevity of the game mode a lot.

RPS: How much do you value modding and user-generated materials? The editor was pretty versatile before, but do you have plans to release any more tools?

Kramer: See, we evolved out of the modding community as well, so we always feel attached to our modding community and try to support them whenever possible. Frankly speaking, we gave away most tools we are using ourselves. People are capable of exporting custom vehicles, weapons and any other objects to the gameworld, there is pretty much no scenario that can’t be added to the game, though it requires an enormous amount of dedication from our modding teams to create their very own gameworld. We are seeing a lot of mods that are focused on Vietnam, Sci-Fi, Modern Warfare etc. Mods of high quality require a generous amount of time to be developed so we expect many mods to come out for Men of War over the course of the year that were in development. With a few small tweaks they are compatible with Men of War: Assault Squad and will look even better!


RPS: Related, a few readers mentioned how much they enjoyed using the dynamic campaign generator mod. Any plans for something like that?

Kramer: Yes we do have, for quite some time actually. I will put it this way, if we succeed as we hope we do with Men of War: Assault Squad, it’s something that’s certainly a possibility for Men of War 2. Please bear with me that I can’t unveil details, I only can say that I think that online games (especially coop) and dynamic (online) campaigns are the future for the series.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

This is being tested at the minute, which you can, er, pay to join in with, for some reason. Anyway, we have a completely best hands-on preview coming up soon. Hooray!

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28 Comments »

  1. Jimbo says:

    Woah, woah, woah. Woah… no campaign?

  2. Vague-rant says:

    Hero units sound really interesting, especially given the third person control thing. Would you be able to take a hero’s equipment though? Seems like that might reduce their specialness.

    The Dynamic campaigns are brilliant, but the thing I would like to see in the next iteration would be better third person control. It just never felt comfortable to use. That might’ve been part of the control schemes fault though.

    • Chris Kramer says:

      Possibly you could use the equipment of fallen heroes, however you wouldn’t have the same skill levels using it. But yeah, possibilities over possibilities…

  3. saladin says:

    Wait, you’ve got to pay to beta test the game for them? And people are actually doing this?

    What sort of mad world have I stumbled into?

  4. Vinraith says:

    Sounds a bit too light on single player to me. I suppose if a version of the Dynamic Campaign Generatory comes along that uses it I’ll buy it for that, but otherwise this sounds like a probably pass.

    I’m pleased that they’re considering the inclusion of a dynamic campaign in future games, it’s by far my favorite type of RTS campaign (and the DCG is one of the best implementations of the idea I’ve seen since the old Close Combat titles). I’m a little concerned by the repeated insistence that everything be “online” though. Online-capable is good, online-required is very bad. Single player gaming should never require an internet connection.

    • Collic says:

      I don’t think you should be viewing this from a DRM angle; from everything I’ve read and know of best way that isn’t their style. Moreover this seems to be a multiplayer, online focused game, not one which requires an internet connection as a hump to jump through.

      As has been pointed out theyre still making far more focused, traditional single-player campaigns. I see this as them trying to really push the multiplayer aspects of their games, along with repeatable, replayable scenarios.

      Given how good Men Of War multiplayer can be with freinds, I’m very intersted in this; certainly as much as I am in the upcoming Vitenam game.

  5. Doth Messar says:

    This actually sounds really exciting. I’ve always enjoyed the single player part of Men of War, but often the most fun and intense times I’ve had was during coop. But also the possibility at a DCG online is really exciting as well!

  6. Premium User Badge

    mcnostril says:

    Arg.
    I was hoping there’d be a question about a replay system.
    VODs of men of war games are pretty cool to watch even without a proper replay system, and it would be awesome to revisit the more hilarious moments of a match from every angle. MoW is a game where crazy things happen and you can’t really share them unless you happened to be recording, and that’s a damn shame.

  7. Shadrach says:

    At least without a campaign we won’t have to sit through something like those awkwardly bad cut scenes again.

  8. Tweakd says:

    This is what i’ve been waiting for :>

  9. Afro says:

    I’ve never enjoyed RTS’ like Starcraft, C&C, etc, as I hate teh micro. Loving zer panzers, I ended up sticking with MoW multiplayer after playing through the singleplayer, and its incredibly rewarding.

    It gives you a freedom on how you want to fight that no other RTS game I’ve played have come close to delivering. Going infantry support and turtling, or fast and blitzing, or whatever you can think of can be made to work in the game.

  10. Andrew Dunn says:

    This sounds great. We’re still playing Men of War in multiplayer, it’s still endlessly varied and entertaining, but new stuff for multiplayer is always welcome.

    The implementation of hero units sounds much better than I was expecting, too.

  11. TychoCelchuuu says:

    Fixing the super tank spam alone makes this a must-buy for me, I’d say, although I’m sort of sad I have to purchase it rather than enjoy it in a patch for Men of War which I guess they’re going to abandon. Oh well, they deserve all of my money for making such a wonderful game in the first place.

  12. DarkerDark says:

    Some of my best co-op experiences have been with this game. I’m glad to hear they’re going to be focusing on it more.

  13. Wertymk says:

    To arms!

    That was the funniest cutscene in the whole game. I can’t remember which mission it was but there was some general or something standing in front of his troops like he was going to hold an epic speech. Instead he just stands there silently for a moment and then screams “To arms!”(in really bad voice acting) and runs away through his troops formation. I could imagine him whispering “oh, excuse me, sorry, sorry, coming through…”

    • Wertymk says:

      That was supposed to be a reply to Shadrach about the bad cutscenes…

  14. Flaringo says:

    I feel they’re being a bit vague when explaining the hero units. In this article, they said there would be 1 type to choose from in the skirmish mode. This type would have no special abilities, only better equipment. Does this mean that the 6 other types in the multiplayer mode will have special abilities?

    They mentioned “morale boost” and “increased fire power to the squads around him (the hero unit)” in the previous article on RPS.

    • Chris Kramer says:

      It’s not increased fire power for the squads around them, but the heroes will provide additional fire power by having extraordinary good equipment. Moral boost is rather an effect to the player than anything.

      The ones in multiplayer are special units that have special equipment.

  15. jmlop0 says:

    when will the steam demo be out???????????????

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