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How mod tools make The Great War: Western Front a WW1 sandbox

We interviewed The Great War: Western Front dev team about its newest modding update, which it says will allow fans to 'redesign WW1'.

The Great War Western front screenshot showing a barrage balloon on fire

The Great War Western Front, a WW1 game by Petroglyph that came out earlier this year, released a major update on August 10, 2023, which adds new modding support for fans to build their own content. The second part of a modding update rolled out on June 28, the developers say the new tools with “provide the ultimate sandbox to recreate trench warfare”, allowing players to “redesign WW1” in the military RTS game.

We spoke to the dev team about exactly what these new tools provide, and why implementing modding support is so important for the future of The Great War: Western Front.

The Great War Western front screenshot showing artillery

Wargamer: Why is mod support important to The Great War: Western Front?

Petroglyph: Mod support is important for The Great War: Western Front because mods allow anyone to expand upon the game in new ways. The scale of the war means, alongside the more recognisable elements of World War I you’ll see currently in game, there was also a considerable amount of uniqueness in the tactics, equipment and battlefields, which can now be explored further by players.

Mods can also give an almost new experience if they are extensive enough; we’ve seen a few ‘total conversion’ style mods that entirely change the way the game is approached. As a team, it’s been exciting to see what players have created so far and we’re looking forward to what they will add using these additional tools.

Wargamer: What are the most impactful tools being introduced in this update?

Petroglyph: The previous update introduced modding tools that allowed adding new units, audio, textures, models and custom campaigns. The new update will introduce the map-editor and UI tool. On our website,players can find a detailed guide which will walk them through the process of creating a mod, so we hope it can also be an educational opportunity for anyone who’s ever been interested in designing a game mod!

It’s also worth saying that this update brings plenty for players who aren’t as interested in modding as well. For example, we’ve added in a highly requested new campaign stats screen which allows you to reflect on the outcome of your decisions, as well as new multiplayer and skirmish maps to bring extra variety to those battles.

The Great War Western front screenshot

Wargamer: What kinds of mods, that people weren’t able to make before, do you now anticipate?

Petroglyph: With the new update we are expecting mods that introduce more historic battles or change up the user-interface of the game. Our Vimy Ridge Historical Battle is a great example of this, as we used the in-game tools to build this from the ground up – so players can use that structure as a template to recreate other battles from across the Western Front.

Wargamer: Why will players want to ‘redesign WW1’?

Petroglyph: There are two levels to how we think about the modding tools and how they’re best used by our community. On one hand, there’s the subject matter of the Great War, where the tools enable players to extend the game’s depiction of the historical setting, which feels valuable to us. Then, on another level, there are the RTS fundamentals of the game, which lend themselves to deeper gameplay changes or full conversion-type experiences, which is very much part of the DNA of the genre.

There are many elements of WWI that the game touches upon, but given the scale of experimental warfare seen across the conflict, we wanted to offer a way for players to explore each element in greater detail. Take tanks, for example. Not only were there many types of tanks invented for the war, but there were lots of tank designs that never made it past the prototype or design stages. Now it is possible to add these ‘What If?’ tanks to the campaign.

This can extend to troops, weapons, artillery, aircraft and of course, balance. All of these aspects of the game are available for modding. If you thought the game should do this or do that, now you can mod it into the game for the most part.

The Great War Western front screenshot

Wargamer: What’s the strangest mod for the game that you’ve made or seen?

Not so much “strange”, but the most intriguing mods I see are the ones that come close to “total conversion” mods that touch on so many aspects of the game that it can make the entire experience feel different. Our modding community is immensely passionate about creating content which either enriches the game’s historical setting, or takes an element of the game’s design and changes it to create a totally different experience. However they choose to use the modding tools, it’s great for us to see their enthusiasm for the core of the game in what they create.