Reviews - Updated on April 10, 2022

For the past 10 years, the French from Eugen Systems have been making, in fact, the same game – a large-scale real-time strategy game in which you can send those same “thousands of military equipment” into battle. RUSE, the Wargame trilogy, Steel Division – all these RTS are very similar both externally and in terms of gameplay: we have a slightly “pop” wargame with an emphasis on multiplayer. The fantastic Act of Aggression from four years ago, which is a classic RTS with base tuning, is a little out of order. But after a very cool reception of this game by the public, Eugen Systems decided to return to the format that it does best by releasing the first part of Steel Division, which tells about the battles on the Western Front of World War II.

The continuation of this strategy, dedicated to the confrontation between the Allies and the Axis in other theaters of operations, was expected. The only question left open was whether it would be a DLC or a standalone project. Eugen Systems chose the second option, which is of particular interest to the domestic player: the Eastern Front, namely Operation Bagration of 1944, has finally come into focus.

The release is scheduled for early May, but you can already get acquainted with the game now: pre-orderers have access to the beta version. Well, the lazy and those who do not want to spend money ahead of time will be helped by .Ru – we tried the “beta” and now we will tell you about everything.

Direction of the main attack

In my memory, this is the first foreign game completely dedicated to the Belarusian offensive operation. Although in this case there is nothing surprising here – for the strategy format from Eugen Systems, the events of 75 years ago fit perfectly.

Operation Bagration, which lasted more than two months in the summer of 1944, is considered one of the largest battles involving the Red Army in World War II, and, perhaps, in all modern military history. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers, thousands of tanks and aircraft, millions of artillery shells fired – the scale is impressive to this day. The result of intense and bloody battles was the complete defeat of Army Group Center and the liberation of the territories of Belarus and Lithuania, which marked a close and final victory in World War II.

For those who wish to get better acquainted with these events, I can recommend the book of a remarkable military historian – Candidate of Historical Sciences Alexei Isaev “Operation” Bagration “. “Stalin’s blitzkrieg” in Belarus.

Tank wedges going into a breakthrough, endless artillery shelling, flanking and encirclement – anyone who is familiar with previous projects of French developers (especially those who participated in 10 vs 10 online battles) will agree that it is Bagration that will allow you to show a time-tested the Wargame formula from the most beneficial side.

Steel Division 2 game preview

For infantry units, it is possible to choose the type of transport.

Victory is forged in the rear

As in the first part, the settings of the “battle group” (aka deck, or deck) are decisive for victory – a set of units that will participate in battles under your command. Both factions (German troops and the Red Army) are divided into divisions, each with its own strengths and weaknesses – a total of 18 pieces, nine per faction. Of course, these are the units that actually participated in those battles: for example, the 2nd Guards Tank Corps of the Red Army or the 5th Tank Division of the Wehrmacht.

The phases of the battle are still with us: each battle is divided into three time periods – A, B and C; the first two go for 10 minutes, and the last one – until the end of the battle. Unlike the first part, where some units were available only in a specific phase, here the player himself decides when to bring this or that unit into battle. But you should be careful: firstly, the size of the deck is limited, and secondly, the later the phase, the more units one squad card gives (and increasing the experience of fighters, on the contrary, reduces this number).

Finally, there are four options for distributing reinforcement points that are spent on “buying” units in battle: you can focus on a certain phase or choose a balanced option.

In general, the deckbuilding process in SD2 has become more flexible and varied, which increases the demands on the ability to use this complex tactical tool. Winning with a set of troops compiled by default will only work in battles against inexperienced beginners or the lightest bots. However, the strategies from Eugen Systems have always been famous for the high threshold of entry into multiplayer battles, so anyone who wants to win in online battles will have to carefully select troops for their style of play.

Steel Division 2 game preview

As a rule, key points are located in really important areas – on the heights, roads and in settlements.

Until the last bullet

The situation directly on the battlefield has also undergone significant changes – again in the direction of complication and increased tactical diversity.

Three types of battles are currently available: “Conquest”, “Melee” and “Breakthrough”. The first two are very similar and differ only in the situation at the beginning of the battle – in Close Combat, most of the map is already under the control of both teams, and direct fire contact occurs a few seconds after the start.

The front line that appeared in the first part has not gone away – it still makes it possible to force the enemy unit to surrender, pressing it with fire and cutting it off from the allied forces or the leader unit. However, battles are now fought over key points, control over which determines the winner of the battle. The team that captured fewer of these positions than the enemy begins to decrease the number of victory points. Once it reaches zero, the battle will be lost. The greater the advantage, the faster the gap grows and the more triumphant the victory will be, but the control of points does not affect the growth of reinforcement points income.

Such a system is good because it further increases the chances of a “comeback” – even the scale of victory brought to the minimum values ​​will not prevent you from restoring the balance with decisive actions, and then completely turning the course of the battle in your favor. It is clear that this only has a positive effect on interest in the game throughout the entire battle – there will no longer be such situations when one team loses motivation to continue the battle due to a failure at the start.

Breakthrough is an asymmetric gameplay variant: one team controls 75% of the map and is forced to defend, while the other team must break through this defense. The differences don’t end there: the defenders have the opportunity to build various field fortifications, from trenches and trenches to bunkers and barbed wire fences.

Steel Division 2 game preview

The line of sight is a handy tool that allows you to take an advantageous position.

Another important innovation that allows you to expand tactical options is the introduction of command squads and a chain of command. Leader units, which within a certain radius do not allow allies to surrender and give them a bonus to their characteristics, are familiar from the first part, but a new type of commanders has also appeared. These are already “piece goods” – there can be no more than one of them for each phase – however, the importance of commanders can hardly be overestimated. Each such unit at a distance of 1,500 meters from itself increases the bonuses of leader units, and they, in turn, can transfer this advantage to other leaders for another kilometer.

Building such a chain of command can have a decisive impact on the course of the battle, and the destruction of the commander or breaking this chain becomes an important goal for the enemy.

The scale of the battles is still impressive: dozens of tanks can meet in a head-on battle even on a narrow section of the map, and battles with the participation of several players in each team allow you to feel the very scope that was inherent in the real Bagration operation. And all this – without much damage to the colorfulness, which can be appreciated at the maximum zoom of the camera – of course, if you have time to do it. The dynamics of what is happening is such that there is simply no time to be distracted by examining individual units.

As in the first part, the interface turned out to be somewhat inconvenient – the lack of clear notifications about important events is especially annoying. Therefore, oddly enough, it is easier to fight in large battles with several players on the side. In this case, everyone has their own area of ​​responsibility in the form of a relatively small section of the front, which is much easier to pay attention to than to monitor the situation on the entire map in one-on-one fights.

Steel Division 2 game preview

This is what the same chain of command looks like – the chain of command.

My general

Behind the scenes of the beta test, there is still a single game – perhaps it will be shown at one of the final stages of testing, but for now, information can be gleaned from very detailed developer diaries. Much attention will be paid to the dynamic campaign, which is a separate turn-based mode “Army General”.

Here you will have to not only fight in tactical battles, but also find an application for your strategic genius. Moreover, you can refuse to directly participate in battles, entrusting the calculation of each fight to the computer, and focus on larger decisions yourself. We will have to deal with reconnaissance, supply, deployment of strike groups in the right sectors of the front, taking into account the terrain and the configuration of a huge strategic map measuring 150 square kilometers. We are promised a full-fledged turn-based strategy that can be considered as a separate game, but will the developers be able to make this mode interesting?

Another option for those who don’t want to take a long time to fill bumps in online battles (again, I repeat that multiplayer is not for wimps here) is Historical Battles. Six special scenarios will be available on the release, dedicated to the real battles of the operation that took place in the first two weeks of the start of the offensive. Although this mode will also be available for online co-op, most likely it will not be attractive in multiplayer – the set of squads is strictly fixed here, and teams usually have a different number of participants (for example, one against two).

There are plenty of such epic shots in every fight, but it’s better to admire them while watching replays.

***

At the moment, Steel Division 2 looks like a well-done work on the bugs of the first part. More attention to the single-player campaign, reworking of the deck building principle, seemingly small, but essentially significant changes in tactical gameplay – all this should work to increase the attractiveness for both beginners and those who have long been a fan of strategies from Eugen Systems.

But the devil, as always, is in the details. So that the game lives, and these same fans do not return to waiting for the fourth Wargame, having stumbled over balance problems (for which the latest “wargame” – Red Dragon is often criticized now) or the scarcity of content, moreover, stretched over several additions (and this is already a stone in the garden of the first part of the series), the developers will have to work hard.

This is exactly what they are doing now: according to the latest news, the release has been postponed for the second time – now the release of SD2 should take place not on May 2, as previously planned, but on June 18. The reason for this, according to Eugen Systems, was the need to bring to the desired state the most promising single-player mode “Army General”.

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