Death From Below: Silent Hunter Online

By Adam Smith on April 26th, 2012 at 8:00 pm.

Let's hope it's not sub standard, eh?

It’s only a matter of time before every game is released for free and not long after that, people will realise that in many cases that ‘free to play’ aspect is a little like a shop not charging admittance. There may still be a bouncer on the door, his fists like cans of spam, checking that you have a stable internet connection before he lets you inside. Silent Hunter Online is free to play and the title suggests it has a preference for the connected consumer. Despite that, I’m intrigued because I’ve spent some of the most deliciously tense hours of my gaming life pretending to be the Atlantean captain of a submersible murder machine. Radar detects an irrelevant cinematic and more details in the depths below.

That really doesn’t tell us a huge deal, other than drawing attention to the murderous bastardly nature of submarines. Surely there’s a way that such a trailer could be improved.

That’s the ticket.

Developed by Blue Byte, the game will be browser-based, although with full 3D explodeffects as well as the (probably) far more useful maps. My interest is held by the promise of a dynamic campaign, covering the ‘Battle of the Atlantic’, in which the actions of each player contribute to the strategic shape of the seas.

Beta registrations are open now.

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49 Comments »

  1. Dances to Podcasts says:

    I think you’ll find that sonar works better than radar for detecting goings on in the depths below.

  2. genosse says:

    Unless surface ships are player controlled too, I can’t quite imagine how you can turn Silent Hunter into an online game. Driving a U-Boot seems like a pretty solitary experience to me, so I am really interested in how they plan to pull off the multiplayer aspect without ruining the immersion.

    I am pretty amazed that Blue Byte still exists, though – haven’t heard of them since Battle Isle for the Amiga (Settlers don’t interest me much). They even kept the old logo!

    • Brun says:

      It would make more sense if you were fighting other submarines. But if I remember correctly the submarines of WWII didn’t usually attack each other due to the primitive torpedo technology of the time – usually they attacked surface ships only.

      • TheWhippetLord says:

        The rather specialised uboat.net lists 22 u-boats lost to allied subs. All but one were sunk on the surface, with the exception being HMS Venturer sinking U864 while both were submerged. Pretty sure there were a few firendly firee sinkings between subs too.

        http://www.uboat.net/fates/sub-sunk.htm

        Apologies for info-dump. :)

        Hmm, multi-nation subs in the Med would be great in an MMO – Brit, Italian etc.

        • Brun says:

          I was thinking more of the kind of Hunt for Red October style of underwater sub vs. sub combat.

          • TheWhippetLord says:

            Yeah. Other than the one-off above that’d be a cold war era thing I guess. Pity there doesn’t seem much of a supply of that kind of thing nowadays, other than the command level strategy game type of thing.

        • Rusty says:

          There was actually a decent amount of multinational sub action in the South Pacific early in the war: the old ABDA command (American, British, Dutch, Australian) vs a fair number of Japanese RO and IO class boats. But it was pretty brief – the Dutch and British boats either sank or left the theater, the American boats were crappy old S-boats that took heavy casualties while doing almost no good, and the Japanese never really figured out how to use subs effectively. By the time the Pacific submarine forces got sorted into something resembling an effective fighting force, it was pretty much an exclusively American show.

    • CPTblackadder says:

      You probably have to stop the merchant convoys as best as possible, as a whole group. Could work that way. Or maybe your a seagull spectating it all, or a dolphin, or a whale, or a massive sub-killing squid. But no i don’t think it’s necessary to control any of the allies, or any of the surface ships, if we wanted that we would not play silent hunter.

      • genosse says:

        True, I don’t expect that to happen either to be honest. For me it’s just hard to imagine the Atlantic (and Pacific?) to be filled with potentially thousands of U-Boats when there were far less in reality.

        I know it’s just a game etc., but it’s kind of a dealbreaker for me if they don’t handle this properly, as it kills the feeling of being alone in the wide open sea, locked in a steel coffin and silently stalking your prey.

        This is pure speculation of course, and maybe they can make it work – but what is the point of playing a multiplayer game if you are (or want to be) on your own most of the time, aside from wolf pack attacks on convoys which should happen sometimes and not all the time. Perhaps it’s just me.

    • Premium User Badge

      maninahat says:

      Another flaw is that in previous Silent Hunter titles, there was a great deal of waiting, even if you accelerated the time compression to something ridiculous ( x4096 or higher). I can’t see how they will work a time speeding up mechanic into a multiplayer version. Inevitably, the game will be restricted to convoy/task force action. and the whole patrolling, searching, seamanship element will be left out.

    • Kevin says:

      You’re forgetting the reason why the U-boats were able to wreak so much havoc on the Royal Navy and the Allied Merchant Marine: Wolf-packs. Subs coudl trail a convoy, transmitting their location to BdU and other subs and planning a good spot to take it on simultaneously.

  3. Jajusha says:

    Loved that second trailer. The first one didn’t make much sense. Why would Americans be writing the ships log on a german U-boat?

  4. caddyB says:

    Online? Aw.

  5. pitak89 says:

    But.. But why does it have to be online?

  6. Dana says:

    Free to play ? I shall dive in with both feet in that case.

  7. Brun says:

    It’s only a matter of time before every game is released for free and not long after that, people will realise that in many cases that ‘free to play’ aspect is a little like a shop not charging admittance. There may still be a bouncer on the door, his fists like cans of spam, checking that you have a stable internet connection before he lets you inside.

    The bouncer analogy is apt, but I’d argue that it’s more analogous to a club or bar not charging a cover. Most shops don’t charge you to walk through the door, and they also don’t have bouncers.

  8. Freud says:

    Multiplayer submarine game. Wonder if people will whine about campers?

  9. Rangoon says:

    What was the first trailer? It says the uploader has not made the video available in my country (USA).

    • Simas says:

      The same trailer as below, except with an American accent.
      An American U-Boat captain fighting for Germany in the North Atlantic. Need I say more.

  10. Simas says:

    I bet the free-to-play model is that you get a free u-boat and you need to pay for torpedoes.

    Anyway, UBISOFT dropped a ball with the last Silent Hunter leaving the community with a broken game. They are going to milk the franchise of whatever fans it may still have. Probably the whole online experience will be arcadish at best.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Lobster9 says:

    Modded Silent Hunter 3 Forever!

    Seriously though.. first STALKER and now Silent Hunter.. what next? ARMA 3 to be console only?

  12. Zenicetus says:

    I will never forgive Ubi for what they did to Silent Hunter 5. So this gets doubly ignored by me, both for that past history, and for being another stupid multiplayer game that’s basically an excuse to avoid coding decent AI.

    I swear if this trend keeps up, programmers are going to forget how to code AI at all.

    Speaking of SH5… does anyone here know the current status of that game with mods for patching it up? The last time I checked in was almost a year ago, and the modders didn’t seem to be making much headway with what they had to work with.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lobster9 says:

      There are a lot of mods available, but the problem is that no matter how hard they try, much of the game is broken at its core. They have managed to improve some elements, but the big one for me is how ships will always explode in the exact same way every time you hit them. Its like a giant game of battleships rather than a simulator. Also the last time I played it, I ordered a dive and got stuck in the conning tower.. luckily U-Boat captains in Ubisoft’s world have an infinite lung capacity.

      • Sartoris says:

        I’ve been enjoying a modded SH5 for quite some time now. The mods have fixed most of the problems and the work is still going on by such dedicated modders as TheDarkWraith and Trevally. There are some bugs left to iron out, but the most glaring issues have been fixed or are in the process of being fixed. I suggest you take a look around Subsim, you’ll find many nice modders and residents who are willing to walk you through the ins and outs of modding SH5.

        • theleif says:

          I’m thinking of going back to the game soon, so which mods would you recommend?
          Cheers

  13. ShowMeTheMonkey says:

    Any Silent Hunter game the first thing I do is play it in German either with German voices or German text.

    Every time.

  14. Vinraith says:

    Ah Ubisoft: driving great franchises into the ground since who-knows-when.

  15. Persona Jet Rev says:

    Let me guess: this will have always online DRM too?

  16. skooma says:

    Welp, that’s another series ruined. Bit of a strange choice even that SH is almost entirely single player anyway.

  17. bill says:

    I do not understand why companies regionally restrict their advertisements. Don’t they know the purpose of advertisements is for people to see them.

    I wonder if that means it won’t be available in my region…. which would be a shame as it sounds like i’m the only person who is interested in this. I always wanted to try Silent Hunter, but a combination of DRM scares and not-knowing-if-i’d-like-it kept me from buying it.

    One nice advantage of F2P games is it’s easy to try them out if you are on the fence.
    though now i think of it, i dimly remember a time where i tried out lots of games using things called “demos” on a cd on a “magazine”.

    • CMaster says:

      Possibly just that different contracted marketing companies have the job for different regions. Still very silly mind you.

  18. DigitalParadox says:

    Online? How will that even work? Most of my memories of SH3 consist of accelerating time by several hundred as I spend weeks sailing around the Atlantic .

  19. Relayer2112 says:

    I’m not convinced. The whole joy of the SH series (once fixed by modders!) was the careful planning and waiting, followed by the intoxicating mix of applied mathematics and nail-biting tension as you executed your attack and escaped (hopefully) undetected.
    Turning off all the auto-targeting and assistance and having a pen and paper nearby, solving equations etc was, for me, the whole point of the series.
    I really don’t think that sort of experience can be translated across to multiplayer – and certainly not to an F2P browser based game. For me it misses the point of SH. Definitely not one for the grognards.