Men of War: Modern Warfare – Call to Arms v1.0 out now

Call to Arms

A shell ricochets off a tank hull, exploding in mid-air and killing an entire infantry squad. A sniper round finds purchase on a commander’s helmet, but leaves his head intact. I’ve had a soft-spot for Digitalmindsoft’s long-running WW2 Men of War series for some time; Chaotic, anarchic things, they’re more like simulationist tabletop strategy games, played out in realtime. While it bears a different name, the modern-themed Call to Arms may as well be a direct sequel, and has been lurking around Steam Early Access for some time now. Today, it officially launched.

Rather confusingly, Digitalmindsoft have opted to go the way of Ubisoft and create several tiers of Call to Arms ownership. At the Free level, the game is free-to-play, but only offers access to multiplayer and skirmish modes as the US and GRM factions, with some units requiring time and effort to unlock. The Basic Edition of the game includes full single-player with a 10-mission campaign, as well as unlocking all US and GRM units from the start. The Basic edition will also provide access to the planned Allied, German & Russian armies as they’re released.

Now this is where it gets messy: The Deluxe pack at present contains nothing but some minor cosmetic/booster-type perks over the basic edition, but in future will provide instant unlocks for all Allied units, plus an Allied campaign. Lastly, the Ultimate/Season Pass edition of the game will add German and Russian campaigns plus unit unlocks for them as they’re released, and early beta access to new factions during development. It is such a mess that they produced a big chart trying to explain it. It doesn’t help much. On top of that, the game has loot crates, keys and all, although these seem primarily geared towards providing cosmetic fripperies for your account.

A lot of the promotional screenshots for Call to Arms look like they could have been taken from a tactical shooter from just a couple years back. It’s a reflection of the most interesting feature of the game: Direct unit control, far in excess of anything the series has previously offered. Earlier games allowed you to control units directly from an overhead perspective, pointing directly to targets as needed, but Call to Arms allows you to play it as a (slightly wonky, admittedly) first-person shooter if so desired, popping headshots down rifle sights. It adds an interesting new angle to gameplay, especially in multiplayer, and it does prevent you yelling at the screen as your little soldier-men fail to land a single bullet on a lone enemy in plain sight.

Rob Zacny took a peek at the early access version of the game two years ago, and was a little disappointed just how much like Men of War it felt. Honestly, it’s still pretty much the same game at heart, only more polished and fleshed out now. Still, there are some weird omissions – I didn’t hear any voice-acting in the campaign missions I’ve tried so far. While acting has been present in previous DMS strategy games, it has also been amusingly rubbish, so perhaps it’s for the best that it remains subtitles-only, but it does give the game a slightly cheap, mechanical feel.

One thing that may end up a key selling point for the game long-term is the modding community. Digitalmindsoft’s previous games have had very active mod scenes, and the engine for Call to Arms is significantly more robust than previous iterations.  There are already some impressive projects in the works, including total conversions based on Halo and STALKER. Some folks are even trying to port over the content from earlier Men of War games into this new engine. Mod support is for Basic edition owners and above, sadly.

Call to Arms is out now on Steam, and free if you just want to casually dip into multiplayer, but the Basic edition will cost you £20.69/$26, the Deluxe edition will bring that up to £27/$36, and the Ultimate edition costs a pretty penny at £40.49/$54.

13 Comments

  1. Hartford688 says:

    Watched a video of the first mission of the US campaign. I must say, the mix of first person, third person and “RTS level” looked rather good.

    But oh my gosh that payment structure plus loot boxes is horrific.

  2. klops says:

    As a huge Men of War fan I have to say the trailer didn’t look that appealing. It looked like voices in MoW sounded. “Lllads!”

  3. Pulstar says:

    Modern warfare involves a ton of recon and electronic warfare. This aspect is never properly introduced in strategy games. WWII was a simpler, more brutal affair that was straightforward in most cases, thus it was easier to implement in games.

    CtA is little more than a re-skinned MoW.

    • master thief says:

      The Wargame series kinda pulled it off. I think the recon units in it have some kind of abstracted electronic warfare, and then there’s also AAVs and aircraft armed with anti-radiation missiles. IMO, it could be more elaborate, but it would only make the game even more micromanagement intensive.

      • kommissar says:

        The Wargame series struck a nice balance between realism and pacing, particularly for a multi-player focused game. I like how it didn’t reward deploying the biggest tanks and charging in, but rather rather positioning, recon and flexibility.

        • Janichsan says:

          Up to the point where Eugen decided to throw in campaign missions that punish you for taking it slow and try to play tactical, and require you to charge in blindly…

    • kommissar says:

      Take a look at Combat Mission: Black Sea. It’s probably the most realistic tactical strategy game you can find in a modern setting (their WWII games are very good and realistic as well). It models UAVs, various forms of night vision, laser-warning detection; realistic damage modelling (i.e. no “hit-points”).

  4. kommissar says:

    Problem with these hybrid strategy/FPS games is that they don’t do either particularly well. If you want to play a good modern shooter, get Squad (or one of the Battlefield games if you want a more arcade experience); if you want to play a good modern strategy game, get Combat Mission: Black Sea (or Wargame: Red Dragon if you want a more arcade experience).

    • klops says:

      I’m sure it does not try to be a good modern shooter. If I remember correctly, the earlier games (Faces/Men/Soldiers) had at least one occasion where you were behind an MG in an escaping jeep from the machinegunner’s point of view. Despite this the games were RTS games. Of course, it could be that they’ve put much more emphasis on the soldier’s point-of-view style.

      Also Combat Mission is a completely different beast. In my mind that’s bit like comparing ArmA to Borderlands.

  5. klops says:

    By the way:
    The Soldier-Men’s Faces of War are all on Sale in GoG at the moment. Eg. 2009 MoW for 90 €urocents. Very much recommended.

    Also another “horrible voices but rather a great game”, Silent Storm. And Jagged Alliance 2. Pure gold, I say.

  6. Janichsan says:

    And the award for the most generic title goes to…

  7. vaivars says:

    The Men of War series has been one of the most blood-warming tactical action i have seen. No bs abilities, no annoying hitpoints on tanks – none of that. You could do crazy things while manually controlling units, but you had to be *very* careful with overdoing it, because you could get overrun on another flank.
    Call to Arms? It cuts down everything that was good about the MoW series – semi-massive battles. Now you are stuck with a very small number of units and it feels almost like a MOBA, which is *very* sad.
    Plus they added money gouging things in there like loot boxes, bullshit XP mechanics etc. overall cutting the experience down even more. It really is sad.
    Atleast MOW:AS2 is still available, and unlike MOW:AS and MOW actually still works in multiplayer without any hackery.

    • Cederic says:

      Ah, shame to hear they’ve chopped down the scale, MoW (and MoW:AS) were always at their best when there was just masses going on.

      The pricing structure puts me off anyway, let alone paying for content they haven’t even yet created. The game can wait, maybe when it’s done I’ll take a look.

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