The battle for the Atlantic was a key element of World War 2, and Destroyer: The U-Boat Hunter offers a different kind of perspective on it. Here’s our preview of the game by Iron Wolf Studio, which is in Early Access now through Deadalic.
What we know
Destroyer: The U-Boat Hunter is being published by Daedalic, but is a very different kind of game than the adventure titles they were known for in the past. Focusing on the six-year battle for the Atlantic between the allied forces and German U-boats of the Second World War, it puts you in charge of a Fletcher-class destroyer charged with the protection of allied convoys who were frequently under attack from German U-boats.
With authentic equipment and battle tactics, Destroyer aims for an accurate simulation experience across five different locations and roles on the ship: the bridge, the sonar room, the lookout station, the gun director and the combat information center. These are brought to life with ten different battle stations and hundreds of voice reports, all of which are based on real-life research by the developers.
The game recently launched into early access on Steam and is currently a PC exclusive with a single player focus. It features procedurally generated battles randomized weather effects and enemy attack patterns, with different U-Boat captains employing different tactics to take you and your allies down.
What we saw
We met with Iron Wolf Studio during an appointment with Deadalic while at Gamescom. The developers talked us through the general concept of the game before diving into some of its many mechanics for a fascinating in-depth look at the tools and tactics involved with hunting for U-Boats. This proved invaluable for when we later went hands on with the Early Access build of the game, easing us into the game for what could have otherwise been quite overwhelming.
What we thought
U-Boats and submarines have always been a fascinating part of popular culture, with films like The Hunt for the Red October and Crimson Tide but also successful videogame franchises like Silent Hunter. Destroyer puts you on the other side of the conflict, hunting for these otherwise elusive ships with a variety of tools at your disposal.
Those tools are impressive, especially as a novice, and provide an almost interactive museum-like experience as you learn a lot in a short amount of time. A good audiovisual recreation of the real thing helps craft a tense atmosphere though, so you don’t feel like you’re given a lot of time to learn unless you tone down the realism level – which for novices like us is a welcome option in the game.
The campaign option hasn’t been implemented yet and is something we’re looking forward to, as it’ll give guidance to what is now a more ‘sandboxy’/skirmish experience in Early Access, which can be daunting because of how intricate the simulation is. On the plus side, successfully predicting where to strike based on 1940s technology and getting it right is immensely satisfying, and especially so when playing at the harder settings.
And while Destroyer isn’t feature complete yet, it’s stable and looks good – especially when it comes to boat models and water effects. Chasing after U-boats who continuously adapt to your actions if you don’t get them the first time you fire at them is thrilling, and will only get better as campaign objectives are layered on top of what there already is. There’s a tremendous potential here for lengthy and multi-stage scenarios, so we can’t wait to see how close this’ll get to our cinematic hopes and dreams.