Wargame’s New DLC Seems Generous

By Jim Rossignol on August 5th, 2013 at 11:00 am.


There are oversights on RPS. I’d be the first to admit it. We didn’t review Wargame: Airland Battle, and we should have done. We still might! We should. I should. In fact, here’s a capsule review from the few hours I spent with it: it’s a fine RTS. Better, I would say, that Eugen’s previous games, Act Of War, and RUSE, the latter of which we enjoyed so much, or its immediate predecessor, European Escalation. Anyway, Eugen Systems have sent word that the new DLC for Wargame is going to be free. It makes all of the campaign missions co-op, there’s a new multiplayer mode, there are new units, five new multiplayer maps, and there’s a great range of options in skirmish setups. Eugen explain: “the first free DLC from Wargame AirLand Battle, has been developed specifically to respond to the demands of the community.” If the demands were: “give us a load of cool extra stuff for free”, then I think the might have got it right.

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56 Comments »

  1. Dominic White says:

    Managing to completely fail to notice the original Wargame, only giving it half-hearted mentions later on, that was daft, but oversights do happen.

    Letting the sequel slip out completely unseen and unmentioned too is just downright silly.

    • guorley says:

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    • Chesnok says:

      Long time lurker here, and I registered just so I could comment on this story.

      ~cue finger wagging~

      Shame on you, RPS, for blatantly ignoring a title that’s really raising the bar on what a small group of devs can accomplish. You missed the boat when it came time to report on this game and on Eugen’s continuing commitment to make decisions that serve to feed and grow the Wargame community.

      Reporting on it now in a half-hearted fashion, when it’s been out for months, is almost worse than just continuing to ignore it, as you’ve been doing since May.

      As a long-time RPS reader who’s never asked for anything from this site, here’s my one request. Give us a legitimate Wot I Think on Wargame: Airland Battle. You skillfully review enough games on this site that missing an extremely solid title like this is surprising.

      Even better, contact Eugen and have a Q and A with them about their philosophy as developers, their perspective on developer/community interaction, and their feelings on the state of RTS games and the Wargame series’ place in the genre. It’s worth putting some time into, Eugen is really doing things quite a bit differently than many other dev companies.

      Cheers from an appreciative reader

    • Dana says:

      Not their first fuckup. I remember how they completely ignored “War Thunder”, in favor of its direct competitor World of Warplanes (acknowledged by everyone as inferior), writing multiple pieces and pushing out full-spread advertisements.

      They did single piece on War Thunder much later down the line.

  2. Alfius says:

    Simply the finest RTS I have ever played (and I’m old enough to own a boxed copy of Total Annihilation)

  3. WJonathan says:

    AIRLANDFACE

  4. PatrickSwayze says:

    Definitely the best RTS going at the minute.

    I got distracted by Company Of Heroes 2 for a while but after so much COH1 and Dawn Of War 2 there’s only so much COH2 can offer me, even when the tears of the defeated armchair racist Nazi players are so delicious when playing as the ruskis

    • DumbparameciuM says:

      I actually prefer this to CoH. The CoH games are excellent, but they require more micro than I’m comfortable with. There’s plenty of room for Macro in Wargame, but it’s not always necessary. It’s more about putting units in the most effective spot.

      The deck management seems a little complicated, but then I’ve only played about six games total. There’s certainly lots of depth to it though. Many depths to be plumbed.

    • Pathetic Phallacy says:

      Men of War says: “I don’t fucking think so”.

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        While I honour Men of War for its glorious unpredictable carnage, lately I have come to prefer a game that doesn’t leave me with PTSD after finishing a mission.

        • Darloth says:

          Exactly how I feel as well. I really like Men of War, but playing it is exhausting. It’s more like… hmm… a realtime Commandos, except there are so many, many troops to take care of instead of just a handful.

          I really enjoy Wargame:AirLand battle simply because it feels so different to the formulaic RTS set, and represents its chosen period (itself an unusual choice) with a good balance of plausibility and usability. It’s fun.

  5. Dominic White says:

    Oh, and just to make things even sillier now, the DLC has been out for a few days now. It won’t ‘be’ free, because it *is* free, now.

    The big deals are a new Conquest playmode (back from the original Wargame), and co-op being added to the campaign.

    25 new units and 5 new maps on top of that, too.

  6. sonson says:

    Is there any strategic benefit to zooming in, or is just for pretty? As with Suprmeme Commander, the TW Franchise, World in Conflict et al I find that the only time I can ever afford to zoom in is when my army is on the advance or in pursuit of an enemy i.e when I don’t actually have to make any decisions.

    • Ephant says:

      Don’t mention the name World in Conflict… Please. ;_;

      • sonson says:

        Why ever not? One of my fave games of all time. Though can’t play it on Windows 7 : (

        • BobbyDylan says:

          Because there’s no WIC 2. It makes us sad(face)!

          • sonson says:

            Is there an RPS social club for WIC games? We should set one up! If I can get it to work!

          • PatrickSwayze says:

            That sounds like spendid idea.

            What problem are you having though?

            I’ve always found WiC a stable game, even on vista and the multiple builds ive had running win 7.

    • Axelius says:

      Well, if you want to micro some specific unit like your pricy attack helicopter so it doesn’t get shot down by the enemy’s SAMs, in which case you might not be at max zoom.

      But that cinematic close? No.

      • Darloth says:

        Actually, I think you’re wrong here.

        I admit that it isn’t something you’re going to be doing a lot, and I mostly only find I have the time when planning the initial phases of a battle, but zooming right in like this is wonderful for determining line of sight. Since the maps are actually properly 3d, you can use this level of zoom to work out what a unit can see if it’s perched on top of any given hill or sunk into a particular valley, as well as which bits of a city are visible from the out or inside, and where forests may block LoS.

  7. thecaptain says:

    Not only is the campaign coop, but it’s a dynamic campaign (think Total War lite) that you play in coop! The units that you attack or defend with are split evenly between you and your bud, leading to some glorious AI stomping. This is infinitely more fun than coop single missions, and varies between relaxing and nerve wracking depending on the AI difficulty.

    (The campaign is also playable in 1v1, which is wonderful and intense, like a good strategic hex and counter wargame mashed up with a Close Combat game on steroids.)

  8. LionsPhil says:

    Hmm, apparently one of the layers of DRM on this got removed. Apparently still needs a third-party account system, though. :/

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Apparently some people are still Butthurt about Steam.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      Isn’t the account you need just the Eugen one? It’s not that cool that we need it but I think 3rd party is a bit of a misnomer. Unless I misunderstand you?

      • LionsPhil says:

        Yeah, you could quite reasonably describe it as two “first-party” accounts, since at least it’s the dev.

        Most pressingly, though: is it tied to your purchase? Because for all the best intentions in the world, having more than account-locked DRM system for the same thing is a path to misery (twice as many systems to have to have simultaneous working logins to play, twice as many to die off and leave the game unplayable, etc.).

        (F2P MMOs usually twist it around by making the Steam part not locked to “your” copy of the game, and can generally make a reasonable argument that if the dev is down/gone, so is the game.)

        • Stellar Duck says:

          I don’t actually know. I’m fairly sure the one for European Escalation required your CD key but I simply can’t remember if ALB did as well, as I was a bit drunk when I set it all up. I would assume so though, and I agree with you that it’s a great shame that having multiple account lock systems in nonsense.

    • hunsnotdead says:

      ActControl(new version of StarForce) was on European Escalation, and even that was removed after launch.
      AirLandBattle launched with only Steam DRM, and the Eugen community thing.

  9. AlmightyTaz says:

    Yes, it is a great game with a huge amount of potential. But what you probably haven’t heard from Eugen is that from launch it has suffered from some pretty serious bugs and connection problems… particularly with multiplayer and now especially Co-Op campaign versus the AI… so bad that they make the single player/co-op versus AI almost unplayable.

    These are mainly desync issues where each human player experiences completely different versions of events on their screens.

    These supposedly new free DLC features were actually promised in the initial release version of the game and they’re still broken… so not everyone who has bought this game is a happy camper at all…

    • Hellfire257 says:

      Go easy on the hyperbole, it isn’t unplayable by any means. I’ve played 66 hours of the game (since beta) and only encountered desync 4 times.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Hmmm. Good thing that i kept my purchase on hold this summer. Maybe they’ll fix the issues by December?

      • Maxnwil says:

        Given the way Eugen provides community support, I’d be shocked if it isn’t fixed by the end of the month; probably fixed in a week or two.

    • philbot says:

      There are a few bugs here and there, but they are mostly pretty minor. I had a great time yesterday playing the Co-op campaign with a complete stranger. As for connection issues: Most of the problems with connections comes from people playing with crappy connections over 3G networks, and their connection drops. I’ve been playing in australia with 400 ping in most lobbies, and some games slow down a bit (The game can throttle game speed when connections get crap), but it’s usually pretty stable.

    • Dominic White says:

      I’ve played quite a few 10v10 matches with no connection isssues whatsoever, even when the entire world is turning to Boom. I’d imagine any desyncs are due to players with woefully insufficient PCs or connections. They’ll happen in any online game from time to time, though.

      • Maxnwil says:

        Not necessarily hardware based; My whole family gets desyncs when we play. I think it has more to do with your router settings and your IP address.

        But yeah, there aren’t crippling problems with the game. The desyncs make co-op battles difficult to complete, but the single player and multiplayer are just as good as ever.

    • Chesnok says:

      Angst about allegedly game-breaking bugs is not getting you anywhere.

      Eugen is constantly releasing small tweaks and patches to the game, and the stability issues and bugs that have affected some players are being squashed on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis.

      I’ve been gaming since the ’90s and I haven’t seen many companies that work as hard to improve their game as Eugen does. Think of ALB like cheese or wine; it’ll just keep getting better with time.

  10. Boosh says:

    On sale at Gamersgate at the moment, £20. Additional 25% off if you own European Escalation on Gamersgate, which I do, so I’ve just bought it.
    Should go a little way towards getting over the massive disappointment of CoH2.

  11. Arathain says:

    I bounced off European Escalation pretty hard, because I didn’t get along with the campaign at all and I couldn’t unlock extra units without playing multiplayer, which I do not have time to do.

    I’m really liking Airland Battle. The dynamic campaign is so much more interesting, and you get all 800+ units unlocked from the start to skirmish with.

  12. WinTurkey says:

    The DLC came out on Thursday, don’t refer to it in the future tense.

  13. philbot says:

    If any company be given praise for “Re-defining the RTS genre” (Without turning their franchise into a MOBA), It would be Eugen in a heartbeat. The gameplay strikes, in my opinion, the perfect balance in micro/macro: There is very little you have to do with each unit except move it around, positioning is key, there are no “special abilites” gimmicks, and there are a few things that you can do like disabling weapons etc.

    I hope you guys find some time to do a WIT for this game. It’s a very solid game, made even better by developers that care about their community enough to patch daily, have discussions in forums, and release DLC in response to community feedback.

  14. Frantics says:

    If you don’t mind a modernish conflict style and are into RTS or games at all than this game is AWESOME, you should really check it out! Some of the barrages and helicopter attacks and such in this and EE – breaks new ground for RTS graphics IMO. It’s also very smooth and fun to control, not too difficult at all and strategic decisions seem to weigh up more heavily than fast micro, so anyone could enjoy it really! Great pace. Great interaction with the community and free DLC (yeah!). Really really great, one of the best PC RTS yet. Is hard on nature though, at least it didn’t really happen. no wonder. Check it out man!

    Speaking of other things you might’ve missed DCS seem to have stuck up some brilliant free starter to their sim stuff up on steam which makes it very convenient to have a go and add modules (like the KA-50 and A-10 ones) if you want to spend money. Not actually too bad to get started in the SU-25 once you memorize a few controls (thrust/arrows for directional stuff/flaps/breaks/bit of the weapons systems can do you surprisingly well with no joystick) and play around with it a bit and a very fun laid back beautiful game (yeah, and you don’t even need to be violent!) and appreciation of some of our finest machines. They seem to have been very arma inspired lately watching the sandbox is great and you can even walk your pilot around or with the combined arms module literally control a lot of the ground stuff.

  15. Esteis says:

    For people curious to see the gameplay: there’s plenty of commented replays on Youtube, but here’s a fine match with non-stupid commenting. The match is in the new conquest mode, and the commenter (Selkares) has sensible things to say about the way it’s played. (Link takes you to start of the first big action.)

    http://youtu.be/MtAm7OT0VSc?t=10m50s

    Also: if you speak French, or know the units, look up his “Polonais seuls contre tous” 1v2 video for some very good tank combat that uses actual manoeuvres rather than ‘drive up and shoot’.

  16. Piecewise says:

    [Trigger Warning: Gunshoots, Mandies.]

  17. botd says:

    Question I have for people is whether there is any reason to play Ruse or European Escalation or should one just go straight for Airland Battle?

    • Trithne says:

      Ruse is very much a different game, actually slightly more arcadish, plus the WW2 setting. Worth getting if you’re interested in it.

      European Escalation, however, I would simply skip. Airland Battle is basically EE – Fixed edition.

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        I adore RUSE. I find myself coming back to it still. The management of information is key, but it is layered on top of an accessible RTS that rewards careful positioning over rapid clicking.

        I value the Wargames for their finer resolution of warfare – I particularly enjoy the fact that an assault can become overextended and crushed in detail if it doesn’t secure the newly gained territory to prevent attacks on supply convoys bringing fuel and ammunition to the front.

  18. aircool says:

    I’m rubbish at RTS games, and not much better at Wargame ALB. I do like it though, even if I don’t play anything but 10 v 10.

    Best part? Limited units (uses the same deck system as Battle Forge (remember that?)) and no build queue/tech level shite.

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  20. brotherthree says:

    I don’t normally buy games, but I can honestly say as far as RTS goes this one is a breath of fresh air.

    Unit selection is astronomical, the combat is good, the mp is awesome, and the game developers actually seem to care, which isnt something thats common these days.

    If you’re on the fence, this game is worth it.

  21. a1ml3ss says:

    The best thing about this DLC is the way the conquest mode has been revamped, and the way it changes the fight completely. It has stopped the “camp behind a row of infantry with a nighthawk” approach which wound me up massively. Its not about the troops you lose, its about the ground you take.

    Basically, I used to lose all the time taking on costly assaults. Now I only lose a bit.

    • Chesnok says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more. IMO, conquest has reoriented the game towards an intelligent balance of offensive and defensive play. The losing side is never truly defeated as a smart attack can always swing the odds in their favor.

      Map control and scoring based off zone income are brilliant additions, and allow the strategic side of ALB to really shine. No more camping, no more losing points because you embarked on a bloody offensive to gain a territory zone. Conquest makes a static playstyle completely untenable against a team that’s working together, and it’s hugely refreshing.

      Eugen has always stated that the Wargame series (EE and ALB) are about maneuver warfare, and the addition of Conquest mode to ALB finally tweaks the balance away from endless defensive lines and towards mobility, flanking, subterfuge and teamwork.

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