I’m very encouraged by the improvements I’ve seen in Blitzkrieg 3, although I still have some reservations over the some of the game mechanics in overall design. The Number of units and tactics already available in B3 do delay any feelings of “grindiness”, and keep it fun for a decent amount of some time.
This preview has been a long time coming, in fact it’s been over eight months since I first laid my hands on B3 and the game has come a long way. The dev’s have been adding a ton of new content, listening to player feedback, and adjusting the game accordingly. If I was to judge the game purely on the developers then I’d have no problem recommending Blitzkrieg 3, but as it stands, I’m not particularly fond of some of their design choices. This may change when the social features are added, but that yet remains to be seen.
Blitzkrieg 3 is a WWII RTS from Nival Interactive. The previous Blitzkrieg games were both well received WWII RTS’s that gained a strong fan base, but after a ten year gap since Blitzkrieg II, a third iteration of the series came as a surprise to all. The new Blitzkrieg is of course another WWII RTS style game, with obviously much improved graphics to its predecessors, however apart from making the tanks prettier, Nival have been experimenting with some new and unconventional multiplayer mechanics.
Nival’s grand design with Blitzkrieg 3, is to integrate multiplayer with social features. In principle it’s not a bad idea, competing against just another faceless opponent is nowhere near as much fun as competing against someone whom you can chat with before and after a match, trading insults with them and their mothers (I’m sure Nival don’t intend to drag anyone’s mother into this), and more importantly, embarrassing them in front of their peers.
It’s clear that Nival have also taken a lot of inspiration from various “social” games for the multiplayer portion of B3. These “social” or Facebook games are generally designed to keep you hungry for upgrades that just give you pointless stat buffs, that make you hungry for the next upgrade, all with the option to buy resource/experience boosts with microtransactions to speed up the process for a while. Blitzkrieg 3 in essence does follow this model, however it foregoes the microtransactions (thank goodness). Its other saving grace is the sheer number of units and abilities available. The upshot of this is that the “missions” in multiplayer have transcended their grindy heritage to actually become a reasonably fun RTS experience.
In multiplayer for B3, you are given a base with various buildings used for buying different units, abilities, resources, and more buildings. When attacked by other players you fight on the same map as your base and can direct your units in battle. If you are offline however you must rely on the efficacy of your pre-set defences. Keeping your resources is the prize for successfully defending your base, and obviously gaining resources is the prize for successfully attacking your foes. Although you will still gain some resources if you fail an offensive mission. Resources can be used for buildings, upgrades, and for purchasing various defensive and offensive units. Naturally resources build up over time, but it’s always quicker to do battle to get them. You also have the choice of fighting an AI opponent or another player, however you are only matched against players of similar rank to yours (see above for comment about meaningless levels).
The many different units, commanders, and special abilities, all contribute to giving the game a large number of tactical possibilities for attacking and for defence. The terrain also has an effect on tactics, each map has hills, roads, trees, bridges, and buildings that can be utilised in various ways such as; bridges can be blocked, roads mined, houses garrisoned, and units hidden out of site ready for an ambush. Attacking forces can also use the terrain to their advantage, I often use a scout car with my attack force to spot enemy deployments, tanks can be positioned on hills for better firing positions, special “close quarter” units can be used for capturing garrisoned buildings, and artillery or bombers can be called to soften up static defences.
When on the offensive, you don’t have to destroy every defender on the map to win, but you do have to occupy and capture all the flags in within the time limit. The timer length is only around ten minutes per match but does increase slightly with a player’s level. While this limit does detract somewhat from grander strategies, it does mean the action is ongoing, with attacker having to commit forces rapidly in order to win. Probably a slightly longer turn length would be more fun for a hardcore RTS gamer, but that would mean re-balancing some of the timed abilities too.
Apart from the multiplayer aspect, Blitzkrieg 3 also has a number of single player campaigns, set in various historical battles. These still have a way to go, but they are being added too, and they are great for learning your units strengths, abilities and limits.
The graphics and detail in B3 have had a lot of care put into them and it generally looks good. Animations are not working perfectly yet, sometimes infantry will run on the spot or tanks will spin their tracks wildly, but none of this is too game breaking, and expect to see it all fixed by release.
I mentioned earlier that Nival’s “grand design” was to integrate multiplayer and social features, however, exactly what these features will be is still a mystery. Nival have yet to add these planned features, although a general chat system has been integrated don’t expect too much from it.