Steel Division II builds on the solid foundations of Steel Division: Normandy ’44. Eugen Systems, known for their Wargame and Act of War series prior to Steel Division, is self-publishing the sequel after going through Paradox for the first one. We got a sneak peak at this year’s Gamescom – here’s the report.
What we know
The first Steel Division game focused mainly on the allied invasion of the European mainland at Normandy and the battles that followed that invasion. Steel Division II takes similar gameplay, but moves it to a completely different theater of war – the Soviet push on the German forces from the East. This means you’ll be playing in different environments and with complete different units, offering brand new tactical choices.
Steel Division II also introduces a brand new way to play, with its turn-based “Dynamic Strategic Campaigns” mode. Moving further away from Eugen’s own RTS roots, this mode allows for a more strategic way of approaching the battle – managing not only your troop movements but also your supply lines and reinforcements.
What we saw
Eugen had brought both a presentation and pre-alpha code of the game to Cologne, so we got to see the game in action after hearing about its new features. Building on the engine that was used in the first game, the emphasis for the presentation was on the brand new turn-based mode of the game. While Eugen hasn’t released much in the way of screenshots for this mode, you can see it being teased in their most recent trailer below.
What we thought
While the core real time strategy experience remains similar to that of Normany ’44, the new setting should ensure that the game feels fresh – way more so than the expansions for the first Steel Division felt. Visually the eastern front feels slightly less interesting than Normandy, mainly because of the vast open plains we saw – but this will likely be very different in the full game, and we certainly hope that the harsh conditions on the eastern front will play a role as well. The demo we saw mostly served as a way to demonstrate the engine and units, so we won’t put too much weight on what we didn’t see in terms of scenery – the trailers that have been released already show a ton more in this area.
Steel Division II’s main new feature is of course its brand new turn-based mode, “Dynamic Strategic Campaigns”. It allows gamers to choose how to experience the game, either as a classic RTS or by focusing more on strategic decision-making – or of course as a mix of the two. What immediately struck me is that the new mode – perhaps somewhat ironically – made the game feel more like one of Paradox’ excellent turn-based strategy titles. This, if implemented well, should certainly appeal to people who didn’t feel like Eugen moved far enough in the direction of an authentic battle sim with the first game.
At the same time, it was good to see that – despite this change – Steel Division II can still be played as an RTS. This definitely struck a chord with me after EA’s decision to turn Command and Conquer into a mobile title – happy to see that Eugen’s still putting out quality RTS titles for PC, and one that’ll allow players to explore the depth of their strategic and tactical planning as well.