We like the look of Steel Division 2's new Conquest mode10 Jan 2019 0
Normally we’d have saved something like this for tomorrow’s Wargamer Weekly but… well, it’s been a bit of a slow week in computer wargames. Still, it gives us a chance to dig into this recent bit of news a bit more deeply than we otherwise would.
If you’ve been following the development of Steel Division 2, you’ll have read their most recent dev diary by now. For anyone else who needs bringing up to speed, Eugen have talked about their new ‘Conquest’ game mode and how it changes a mechanic that was at the heart of the first Steel Division.
The controversial ‘Frontline’ mechanic (much like the legend that is Marmite, you either liked tt or you didn’t) in Normandy ’44 saw you trying to control more than 50% of the game map in order to score points. Your points ticked up whenever you controlled 51% or more, and you won when you reached the set amount.
Control was essentially determined by a combination of map presence and the absence of map presence. The game starts on a 50/50 split, denoted by coloured zones that had a thick-border where they met - the front-line. All units in the game projected a variable amount of ‘control’ which pushed the line forward, thus netting your side more of the map under your control. If there are no enemy units present, the line keeps moving forward. If there are (even if you can’t see them), the line stops. If neither side has units in an area, the line remains more or less where it was as of the start of the game (or as of the last time a unit of either side was in the area).
The Steel Division community had a love/hate relationship with this mechanic, mainly because it had a weird effect on scouting. You could never always precisely know where the enemy was, but you can see where your frontline is being blocked. It also had an effect on unit morale and their chance of surrendering if a unit fell outside friendly ZOC.
In Steel Division 2 the developers have made a subtle, but key modification to this concept for Conquest. Instead of a rather abstract notion of map control, maps are instead littered with physical control points on the map at key locations. The dev diary mentions there could be 12 per side, for a total of 24 on a map although it of course depends on the number of players, map size etc…
Control of these locations is not gained by physical plonking a unit on it though, like you find in something like Company of Heroes or Men of War. Instead, the Frontline mechanic once again comes in to play. If an objective falls within your side of the map, meaning a part of the map that you’ve extended your zone of control over, then the objective is yours. If you lose units or if the enemy pushes more units into an area and thus drives your frontline back, you will lose control of the objective the moment it’s no longer within your zone of control:
The objectives will not influence your income rate. Instead, the number of flags in your possession will determine how much your opponent "combativeness", pictured as a bar under the mini-map, will decrease. The game stops when this meter finishes, and the number of captured flags is tallied to determine the level of victory of the winning player. There is no time limit in the new Conquest mode, but the moment you start controlling objectives, you will be able to see a clock running down. The more flags you have over your opponent, the quicker this timer will go.
Over all we like this change: it keeps the mechanic (which I imagine they’ve spent a lot of time working on) largely intact while also giving it some extra relevancy and focus. Before, it didn’t really matter where you gained ground so long as your side held at least 51% of the map. Now, you have to be making gains in the right areas, so that you gain control of the objectives and thus win the game.
They will also be changing how certain units interact with the mechanic – recon units, for example, will no longer project their own ZOC, and so can slip into enemy territory unnoticed in an effort to find out where enemy units are.
Eugen were keen to stress that this is all still very much a WIP, but from what we’ve seen so far, it’ll be a good and welcome change. We can’t wait to see more.
Steel Division 2 is due out on PC sometime this year. We hope.