M&B: Napoleonic Wars Dev’s Next Is Insanely Ambitious

By Nathan Grayson on November 13th, 2012 at 10:00 am.

You can, um, do other things aside from destroying fences. That's probably not the best example of ambition.

Mount & Blade meets Total War. That’s roughly how Flying Squirrel Entertainment – they of Mount & Blade: Warband – Napoleonic Wars – are describing their upcoming American Civil War opus, Battle Cry of Freedom. And so far, the (admittedly over-simplified) label sticks. Flying Squirrel is feverishly loading its musket and shooting for 500-plus player battles across five-by-five kilometer maps that are based on satellite images of actual locations. Meanwhile, the plan is to include every type of not-so-modern warfighter imaginable – from soldiers to artillery to musicians. Yes, musicians. Oh, and the entire environment will be destructible. Bottles, fences, houses – you name it. Will it work? Can it work? More after the break.

Currently, Flying Squirrel’s a four-person team. By my incredibly thorough and meticulously re-checked calculations, that’s teensy tiny. But then, Napoleonic Wars was a damn impressive mod-turned-expansion, so it’s not like this team’s staffed with eyes-bigger-than-their-stomachs amateurs.

And some other goals do sound a bit more manageable than their nearly sim-level counterparts. For instance, Battle Cry of Freedom isn’t a persistent sandbox MMO or anything like that. Instead, players will be encouraged to run their own match-based servers – reinforced by Flying Squirrel’s “own new and original network engine.” We can rebuild the Civil War, they essentially say. We have the technology.

Combat, meanwhile, will be heavily inspired by Mount & Blade. Muskets rule the day, and they’ll be complimented by a familiar directional attack/block system. But what will you actually be trying to accomplish? Well, that’s a bit less, er, concrete.

“Instead of selecting a game mode, a map, and factions, you choose an engagement. Each one has a historical set up in terms of map, factions, units available and objectives. The objectives are a set of goal each side has to complete in order to win the map, and they vary from mission to mission to give the game greater diversity. The game has respawns to better simulate the large scale battles of the era.”

So basically, each map is its own gametype. Again, ambitious. And maybe a bit mad. Obviously, though, it’ll be fairly incredible if Flying Squirrel pulls it off. Right now, the blast-from-the-past-blasting dev is attempting to crowdfund the project via its own website, but I wouldn’t be surprised Battle Cry popped up on Kickstarter or Indiegogo before too much longer. Regardless, it’s still obviously quite early in development, so release is at least a year off. In the meantime, though, here’s a rich vein of further information. Strike it and bathe in a delicious rain of knowledge.

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35 Comments »

  1. eks says:

    It’s easy to be ambitious when you are asking for money for you project. Let’s see how they describe this “multiplayer campaign mode” (which is basically all it is isn’t it?) if/when it is on the verge of being released.

  2. bateleur says:

    They’re completely, completely crazy… but in a good way. This might be the least feasible project I’ve ever encountered.

    I love the vision, though. Best of luck to them.

    • President Weasel says:

      Indeed, if it’s ever released I’m likely to buy it to reward their insane ambition, even if it is a bit broken (this is genuinely how I purchase games).
      However I don’t think I’ll give them some money now just for having a big idea.

  3. Dana says:

    Idea is great, but I don’t like civil war setting.

  4. Soulstrider says:

    Damn I for a moment I thought we would get an WW1 game, I really wanted that.

    I mean really there is such a lack of WW1 games centered games, afaik the is only Darkest Hour, WW1 Gold, Necrovision and that one in latest wargame RPS article. Really I want to see this setting so much that I wouldn’t mind an heavily scripted WW1 Call of Duty at this stage.

    • Fanbuoy says:

      This does seem like a concept that could really work as a WW1 game. It sure is a shame. Maybe next time, eh?

    • MrLebanon says:

      Darkest Hour the Ro2 mod? that was WW2.. unless there is another Darkest Hour I am unaware of

    • phelix says:

      Considering a lot of time in WW1 was spent sitting in trenches and launching artillery shells at one another endlessly, I wouldn’t think it’d make for a very fun (or mainstream appealing, for that matter) video game, at least from a first person perspective…

      • jakiw says:

        Oh boy, this same tired point gets brought up every time someone so much as mentions WWI. It seems popular knowledge of that conflict comes mainly from Blackadder and All Quiet on the Western Front, and everyone assumes that TRENCH WARFAREZ was the only thing that happened in a war that spanned 4 years over 3 continents involving tens of millions of combatants.

        Also, “but they just sat in trenches all the time” is just a puzzling argument to make against a WWI game. Believe it or not, every war in history has involved large periods of sitting around doing nothing, often in trenches or fortifications of another sort. If only developers could design games that don’t deal with the boring bits and instead produce depictions of war that are fun and exciting.

        Seriously, it just seems like everyone hears ‘WWI’ and thinks “hey, I remember this from high school history class! That had something to do with trenches, right?”, and they just turn off their brains. Consider that perhaps a game would not have to adhere to a strict historical narrative, one that comes mainly from film and literature dealing with 1916 France so it’s not even really representative of the entire Western Front as a whole anyway.

        • wodin says:

          Well said. Amazing how that myth still is so entrenched (no pun meant) today.

          Peoples knowledge of WW1, even many wargamers is limited beyond belief. Small scale actions of around battalion scale happened all the time of the Western front and would be perfect for a game this scale. Only when it comes to operational does the Western front become a more tricky proposition.

        • Ultra-Humanite says:

          How would the parts with action be any better though? Perhaps these people have misguided complaints, but in World War I when you get to the actual fighting it largely consists of huge bodies of men moving across open destroyed ground and being mowed down by machine guns. I don’t see how that’s any more entertaining.

  5. Xari says:

    Is that €1 million donation tier for real?

    • Valkyr says:

      Considering they’re asking for 60,000€, I don’t think so. (But then again if someone threw one million at them they probably would be able to host an awesome party)

    • Zeewolf says:

      Hah, I’m pretty sure that if was the kind of guy who had a spare €1 million to throw at a crowdfunding project, they’d have to work pretty hard to host “the most amazing party I’ve ever had in my entire life”.

  6. Fanbuoy says:

    Sounds intrigueing (and crazy ambitious), but Battle Cry of Freedom is a truly horrible name. It’s a bit WARFACE. Could they have named their game ironically?

    • clark says:

      The Americans take their wars pretty seriously. Irony confuses them. The name has a good civil war pedigree, however. It’s both the name of the pulitzer winning history book of the era (http://www.amazon.com/Battle-Cry-Freedom-Oxford-History/dp/019516895X) and a patriotic song sung by both sides of the Civil war, with different lyrics depending on the side.

      • phelix says:

        For a minute I thought you were a real clever spambot.

        • clark says:

          Shh. Don’t tell the robots. I’m trying to blend in. It’s the only way to survive.

        • Ultra-Humanite says:

          I did too until his dumb irony joke made me realize he’s just a fucking asshole.

  7. hypercrisis says:

    Now we’re expected to kickstarter mods? A Mount and Blade mod no less. This is getting silly now.

    • Fanbuoy says:

      I don’t think this is a mod. And I don’t have a problem with people trying to kickstart mods, for that matter. Kickstarter is about providing people with the means to accomplish endeavours that would be difficult or impossible to manage without support. An ambitious mod can take a lot of time and effort to complete and it’s a bit selfish to demand it be done without compensation. Basically: If you don’t want to pay, don’t, but other people might find the project appealing and worthy of support. [/rant]

  8. Premium User Badge

    Chaz says:

    Weren’t battles of this era all about neat ranks of men all marching towards the enemy whilst getting blown to smitherines? Are 100 plus gamers really going to march forwards in unison to deliver well ordered volleys of musket fire?

    • inawarminister says:

      Short answer?
      YES.

      Checkout all those Napoleonic Wars / Mount&Musket Line Battle vids over at youtube.
      It’s quite glorious.

    • Premium User Badge

      DarkLiberator says:

      Played in about three dozen line battles with the 51st. Damn good fun on a 200 player server. It is possible to get people to march in unison provided they can follow commands.

    • jakiw says:

      I will have to agree with everyone else here – line battles are actually fairly well organized in Napoleonic Wars, and they happened often in the old Battle Grounds mod for HL1 and HL2. However, it’s not like players have to slavishly follow some vague notion of how 19th century battles were fought. That’s why these are games. A lot of people just happen to find line battles pretty fun.

    • Premium User Badge

      X_kot says:

      The early-war battles were fought in a Napoleonic fashion, but as the war progressed, both sides developed more fluid tactics. For one, rifling made it easier to engage at longer distances. Also, Gen. Lee knew that he could never field the numbers that the North could, so stand-up fights were usually not preferable. The battles around southern Tennessee and northern Georgia, or the Wilderness campaign would make good MP settings.

  9. Firkragg says:

    I hope i’m not being dense, but will there be a singleplayer component, like in Warband? From what I’ve read it seems to be mainly multiplayer focused. Nothing wrong with that, I just like my own private world to poodle around in.

    • Shiloh says:

      You might want to have a look at Take Command: Manassas 2 if you like your ACW bourbon neat.

      I used to play it loads, completely single player and really captured the flavour of the period I think.

      I would be all over this latest game like a rash if it wasn’t multiplayer.

      P.S. Civil War battle lines weren’t *quite* as steady under fire as a well-drilled Napoleonic regiment. A lot more cowering and fleeing, and quite right too, considering the lethality of canister and Minié ball.

    • Kestilla says:

      I’m fairly certain Flying Squirrel is making another unique online battlescape while Taleworlds is working on Mount & Blade II.

      Like Napoleonic Wars before it, this is not the droid you’re looking for.

      • Goker says:

        @Kestilla, you are correct in your certainty. Taleworlds is working on Mount&Blade II: Bannerlord and will most likely make a game with greater modding capabilities than Warband or the original M&B.

  10. salgado18 says:

    That first picture could be from Farming Simulator 2013. Now that would be cool.

  11. Faxanadu says:

    So it’s like Operation Flashpoint with older toys?

  12. Premium User Badge

    maninahat says:

    I hope they fix the clumsy melee fighting. It’s cool in mount and blade, but it doesn’t serve regimental charges very well for Napoleonic warfare (or, I imagine, the fighting in the ACW). The whole point of keeping musketeers in dense regiments was so that when the two sides finished a few volleys, they could bayonet charge. A loose, spread out group of people would get mobbed by solid ranks of men, so it was sensible to keep in a big block (even if that increases the chance of you being hit by musket fire).

    In Napoleon M&B though, the melees don’t turn out like the real thing. Lots of backwards running and strafing counteracts a uniform charge, turning what should be a decisive bayonet charge into a goofy looking series of one-on-ones. A simpler, but more precise lunging/blocking combined with penalties for backwards and sideways movement should counter-act that.

  13. Monkeh says:

    Isn’t that called objective-mode? Like say RTCW.