Eugen Systems teased Wargame's Asia-set threequel back in January, but now they've dredged up a proper trailer explaining what the hell it's all about. It's one of those fancy 'narrated trailers' that appear to be a thing now, utilising a guy with one of the best 80s voices I've heard in a long while to describe Red Dragon's specific units and terrain. There's a new emphasis on naval and amphibious units, for example, and if you're sitting at home now picturing rocket-powered frogs, know that you are not alone. However, 'amphibious' here means "combat ships, landing craft" and tanks that can drive through rivers/the sea, which admittedly is probably more important in a Wargame. New stuff aside, cor, Red Dragon is shaping up to be as just as bloody gorgeous as its predecessors, now with more authentically modelled rolling sea and boats.
Real time strategy
DigitalMindSoft's Men of War: Assault Squad 2—a follow-up to its infantry-heavy standalone expansion—is now in open beta, but you'll have to spend a little money to get in. The game's regular price is set at $35/£25, though it's currently offered at a 20 percent discount for $28/£20.
Oh dear, Wargame Red Dragon will soon be upon us. Technically, this is good news, because it's the sequel to the previous, well received Wargame AirLand Battle. Personally, though, it's a reminder of my complete failure to play AirLand Battle, which remains in my growing pile of strategy shame. I look forward to finally tackling Red Dragon - which will move the Cold War action to Asia - when I finally catch up with that list sometime in 2026. For everyone else, your enjoyment of this new trailer can be much more immediate.
Back to World War 2 we go, for some intense, detailed, slow-burn strategy. The Hearts of Iron series has typically been a daunting prospect because, well, look at it, but the fourth entry will be different. A buff 3.0 edition of the Clauswitz engine powers the sandbox. The oppressive grey backgrounds of old have been replaced by muted colours, and an adaptive interface that outlines and shades countries depending on your zoom level. A night/day sine wave washes slowly across the map, separating the brushed iron surface into sunlit and blue moonlit zones. The units are no longer featureless rectangles, but tiny models that can be guided around with multi-phase battle plans. These are sculpted with stretched, curving arrows and broken lines, depicting troop movements and battle lines respectively. I'm surprised Paradox haven't put out any screenshots yet; this is a very inviting strategy game.
Crusader Kings 2 models the hopes, jealousies and paranoid plotting of around 30,000 unique actors, scattered throughout the troubled hierarchies of medieval Europe. From their varying positions of power, they marry, breed, wage wars and bump each other off with splendid selfishness. It's a pioneering sort of grand strategy soap opera, and it's about to get thousands of extra cast members.
CK2's sixth expansion, Rajas of India, will grow the map by 50% and add 400 new provinces, each with their own cabal of commanders, advisers, vassals children to be traded for political advantage. The rulers of India are mapped to three regional religions, which convey unique socio-economic boons upon their adherents, affecting their war-readiness, stability, and research competence. There's a new set of regional events to reflect the local festivities of the era, new jungle terrain and, inevitably, war elephants. It's plenty to be getting on with, but the most impressive thing about the expansion so far is how much of it Paradox are giving away for free.
This week's 2.1 update for Starcraft 2 doesn't rebalance any of the game's units, suggesting that - at least for now - Blizzard are pretty confident that everything in the game is OP. Instead, then, they get to focus on improving other key experiences: like music and tiny hovering clan pictures. They're also making a big push into another of the game's core components: mucking about. As such, the Starcraft Arcade is now available to anyone who downloads the free Starter Edition of the game.
Wargame: AirLand Battle was about as beautiful looking as its title was stupid sounding. From the evidence of this first trailer for the tactical strategy series' upcoming sequel, the slight reduction in nonsensical nomenclature hasn't brought about any drop in graphicsability. Or deadliness, for that matter. While the dragon of the title refers to the Asian setting, and not a new fondness for fantasy lizards, there's still plenty of fire-power on show.
It was supposed to be a short break. I told myself Civilization V wouldn't suck me in when I began playing on the big screen. The game will be too tedious. The text will be too small. I was wrong.
I've spent the past couple days going through every game I thought would be interesting to play, and Civilization V on a couch, staring at a big screen TV is among most engaging, relaxing gaming experiences I've ever had with a game.
If there's one thing that World War 2 has taught us, it's that you should never fight a war on two fronts. Also that you should find your craziest haired citizens and put them to work doing science. But what about fighting a war on three fronts? That's just crazy enough to work, and Relic are certainly fighting a war of sorts: against the solid, but not stellar reception to Company of Heroes 2. Their three-pronged assault combines Steam Workshop support, a free multiplayer update, and new DLC for the Theatre of War mode.
Surprise! The Cold War themed RTS Wargame: AirLand Battle has been updated to include a 13th century charter. Wait, my mistake, this second free DLC pack may be called Magna Carta, but it's actually about planes, tanks and exploding objects. No, I don't really see the connection either. Either way, strategy fans will get access to new units and maps designed to expand the game's multiplayer and skirmishes.
Between Warlords of Draenor, Reaper of Souls, Heroes of the Storm, and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Blizzard must be nearing their quota of "X of Y" named games. But if modern Blizzard has a penchant for expanding and advancing its key franchises through a standardised nomenclature, they haven't completely abandoned the days when they could release games that were just called Warcraft. Or Warcraft 2: Tides of... Oh, come on.
Well, if the names haven't changed, the style has, which is something you'll hopefully be able to re-experience soon. During a panel over this last weekend's Blizzcon, it was revealed that a team within Blizzard hope to bring the classic RTS games to modern PCs.
Mohawk Games, a new independent studio, has been formed under the leadership of Civilization IV lead designer Soren Johnson. Based in Baltimore, the studio is already hard at work on a new real-time strategy game code named "Mars." Mars will be an economic strategy game in which players found colonies and compete to buy out the other players.
After working on Civ IV, Johnson left to work at EA and then social games powerhouse Zynga. When the Zynga Baltimore office closed, however, his project was shut down and he left the company. Since then, he’s worked to get Mohawk Games started with an eye toward giving the real-time strategy genre a jump start.
“I love RTSs,” Johnson tells PC Gamer. “I’m just bored with what’s out there. I want to see the genre stretch and expand. I feel like it’s a genre that should be as varied as board games.”
World of Tanks creator Wargaming are trying an experiment. They've taken the rights to the Total Annihilation series. They've also taken Gas Powered Games and its founder Chris Taylor, the developer of Supreme Commander, Dungeon Seige and Total Annihilation. Now they get to sit back and watch what happens. A fair guess would be, "more Total Annihilation", which is something Taylor recently hinted at in an English podcast interview with German site CnC-Inside.de. In it, he says things like "I don't even need to be coy", before being excruciatingly coy about his current project.
Call your game Planetary Annihilation and you're making a pretty big promise that, at some point, a planet is going to be destroyed into bits. Fitting then, that to mark its move into beta, Uber have implemented the first version of their planet smashing tech into the RTS. You can see it in action in this new trailer, which also features plenty of smaller scale battles between robots that, ultimately, get squished into paste.
Even now, from the comfort of 2013, it seems callous to make pithy comments about World War 2. Maybe I should play it safe by sticking rigidly to the facts. Fact 1: Germany was one of the founding members of World War 2. Fact 2: Some would say that they played such a key role, that the war disbanded soon after they left in 1945. Fact 3: They are the focus of Company of Heroes 2: Case Blue, a DLC pack for the Theatre of War mode.
Remember the good old days of a few months before the release of Company of Heroes 2? Life was simpler then. You'd visit your favourite PC gaming website, safe in the knowledge that Relic would have cooked up a new trailer for their RTS sequel, probably showing a Russian conscript looking sad. Here, we get to indulge in some early-2013 nostalgia, with a new CoH2 trailer, touring one of two free maps that have today been added to the game.
Windows 8 is a confused thing, so it’s little surprise to find that Halo: Spartan Assault is too. Like the operating system to which it’s tied, it’s been designed to work on smartphones, tablets and PCs but doesn’t entirely convince on any of them –jack of all trades and Master Chief of none.
PC users are spared the touchscreen version’s virtual controls, but it’s impossible to escape the feeling that you’re playing a topdown twin-stick shooter that doesn’t support twin sticks. Controller support is promised, but its absence is keenly felt here, especially when you hop in one of Spartan Assault’s vehicles and find it can only move in eight directions.
You could read a book in the time it takes for Rome 2 to calculate AI movements between turns. Our Chris Thursten has made good progress with Game of Thrones. I, meanwhile, tend to make a cup of tea every end-turn event, and then run my empire with the urgency and recklessness of a hyper-stimulated general with a permanently full bladder. To the delight of my internal organs, CA are trying to trim those long AI thinking times down. They've posted a list of fixes made by a beta version of the second patch, which went into testing on Friday, of which "campaign performance optimisations" and "AI round time improvements" are the most welcome. There are also GPU optimisation tweaks listed alongside significant in-game changes to unit speed and morale-battering flank charges. The fix-list is here for your perusal.
According to Uber Entertainment's latest update to Kickstarter backers, the alpha RTS Planetary Annihilation is on course for a beta release later in the month. Alongside the expected fixes and features that are planned as part of the milestone, the beta will also give players the ability to cause planetary annihilation. Hey, that's the name of the game!
A Twitter reply from Gearbox president Randy Pitchford has confirmed that Homeworld: Shipbreakers, the game formerly known as Hardware: Shipbreakers, is no longer planning to use a free-to-play business model. While you could reasonably argue that Twitter isn't the best medium for divulging information about the funding plans of an anticipated RTS resurrection, realise that it could be worse. He could have done it as a Tumblr gif wall.