It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about Ubisoft’s strategy series The Settlers, but not any more: the publisher has confirmed a new installment for release in 2014. Entitled The Settlers: Kingdoms of Anteria, there are few solid details available at present except that it hasn’t strayed from its “world famous building strategy” roots.
Real time strategy
Chances are you already know about the two forces at the centre of Company of Heroes 2: The Western Front Armies. Germany and the US previously fought out their differences in the first Company of Heroes, in 90% of all FPS games made before 2007, and in real-life history. If you do need a refresher, watching two two-minute trailers probably isn't going to help. If, instead, you just need to see some tanks and explosions, they're practically perfect.
Ever fantasised about what Supreme Commander 3 might look like? Would it be darker, more detailed, with advanced smoke effects and oily orange explosions? The excellently named Supreme Battlefeel mod retextures Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance, and combines beautifully with the Firey Explosion Mod to give seven-year-old game a modern makeover. Take a look at the results in the two videos below.
If Company of Heroes 2 has popped into your Steam account, don't panic, it's not a brazen stealth annexation on Sega's part, but the start of a free weekend for Relic's intense real time strategy. The game earned a plump score of 80 in our review, and is a good bet if you enjoy air strikes and LOUD ANGRY WAR NOISE.
Company of Heroes 2 is returning to the setting of Company of Heroes 1 with The Western Front Armies, a standalone expansion that's coming out in June for $20. It includes two armies: the US forces and the German Oberkommando and eight new multiplayer maps set in the green, unfrozen lands of the Western Front. There are no single player missions or Theater of war Scenarios mentioned, so it looks like an expansion designed to feed the multiplayer scene, which has been quietly warring away since launch last year.
Last month, DigitalMindSoft made Men of War: Assault Squad 2 available to those who pre-purchased the game. Now you can get into the beta with Steam Early Access. The game usually costs $35, but it’s currently being offered for $28, a 20 percent discount.
Welcome to the After Action Report, a weekly account from one of PC gaming's varied, exciting battlefields.
Two robots. Two planets. Can't the robots just have one planet each? NO. This is Planetary Annihilation, an RTS from some of the brains behind Supreme Commander's large-scale robotic RTS battles. The plot is simple: once upon a time someone set all the robots to "kill", and the robots have been killing everything ever since, pausing only to build smaller robots that can kill more effectively. Unlike Supreme Commander, Planetary Annihilation has robots fighting for orbital supremacy as well as on land, air and sea.
Planetary Annihilation has recently entered the ominous "gamma" phase of its pre-release program. What does that mean, exactly? Let's find out, by making huge robot armies fight each other to death.
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.