This WW2 RTS takes the formula of the Wargame series and applies it to the Allied invasion of Normandy. I got to sit down for a 10-minute demo (2v2 multiplayer game) and had a quick chat with the lead developer. The focus of Steel Battalion is entirely on skirmishing, there is no base building or resource management here. Eugen Systems are a French team and according to the Lead Developer, the Normandy campaign was of special importance to them. The maps that will feature accurate recreations of the Normandy countryside that surrounded the Landing zones. The game will feature British, Canadian, Polish and US divisions as well as a variety of German divisions with around 400 unique units.
The mode I played required players to control as much of the map as possible. There were no specific capture points, instead, a dynamic front line formed based on where your units were. The frontline system organically created points on the map of strategic importance. Rather than fighting for an area because the game has placed a capture point there, areas of good sight lines, towns and crossroads became hard fought battle zones due to their strategic importance. While controlling multiple units can prove fiddly, Steel Battalion felt easier to pick up than the Wargame series which featured a rather steep learning curve. There is also a more substantial morale system in place and the game emphasises the importance of suppression to pin units and using a supporting unit to move in for the kill.
This was perhaps my highlight of the show. Snake Pass is a wonderfully colourful platformer in which you play as a snake and must collect all items on the map. You slither your way through the map coiling around objects to climb obstacles. The movement is incredibly satisfying and I spent longer than I realised just coiling around things and enjoying being a snake. To help you out you have a hummingbird companion called “Doodle” who can lift up your tail on command. The level I played was on the easiest difficulty so I didn’t make us of Doodle’s mechanic. I would be excited to see how the game uses the solid movement mechanics they have created for the snake.
Snake Pass was a joy to play, and if you’ve every wondered what it would be like to play around on the climbing frames you see in zoo enclosures, you’ll have a lot of fun.
This is probably the game I would most easily recommend from the demo I played. I have a massive soft spot for local multiplayer games on PC and I excited to add this one to my collection. Basically, it’s a Twin stick shooter in which players are invisible. Because you all share a screen, there are times when to anyone observing it looks like you’re all just staring at an empty map, though moments of peace are rare. Lighting, lasers and other environmental elements will reveal your position to both you and everyone else. The panic of realising everyone is now hurtling to your last known position is brilliant. The demo did crash while we were playing though it was not a finished build.
I can’t say a huge amount about DoW III as I only got to play very briefly. What I did get to play was a single player mission controlling the Space Marine army. The mission was simple enough, I started with a large force of Marines, a Predator Tank and an Imperial Knight at my already constructed base. Much like missions from Dawn of War I I had to destroy certain key objectives on the map. They game felt much closer to the first entry than the second, with large maps and units sizes rather than the smaller forces and more linear maps of DoW II. However most units had abilities that required substantial micro-management to get the most out of, be it the timing assault jumps using the assault troopers jump packs or the Imperial Knight’s barrages. Even for a small demo there was a lot to master especially for my lacking micro skills in RTSs. Despite the hash I made of fighting the Eldar, the game looked and sounded great.
In no way related to Steel Battalion Normandy ‘44, Battalion 1944 is an upcoming multiplayer shooter set during, you guessed it, 1944. I was enthusiastically told by the team that they were aiming to recreate the feel of old school shooters, “rough edges” and all. The mode i played was a simple Team Deathmatch, with a choice of rifle or sub-machine gun. I’m by no means a pro at FPS multiplayer, but the game felt tight. It handled simply and did feel like playing Call of Duty 2; lots of jumping, strafing and twitch reactions. The recoil was very manageable on the SMGs making them easy to use and the rifles while powerful required a higher level of finesse. The team says they’re aiming to combine the mechanics and feel of early 2000s shooters with modern competitive matchmaking, touting their game as a 3rd option to CS:GO or Overwatch. While the game will apparently release on console, for now, they’re focused on the PC release.