E3 2011: Wargame: European Escalation First Look Preview

We check out Eugen Systems' next foray into the real-time strategy world.

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Anyone who remembers last year's real-time strategy game R.U.S.E. knows that it was a solid strategy game with an original deception mechanic. The developer of that game, Eugen Systems, recently showed off a hands-off demo of its new RTS game, called Wargame: European Escalation. According to founder and creative director Alexis Le Dressay, the team planned on making the game as realistic a wartime strategy game as possible.

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The game is set between 1975 and 1985 during the Cold War, and the developers give you a chance to alter history depending on which faction you pick. The factions available for your control are the NATO forces (composed of USA and Western Europe) and the Warsaw Pact (consisting of the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries). The NATO forces have the most advanced units and tech, but they are the most expensive to buy and maintain. The Warsaw Pact relies on strength in numbers and a whole variety of units, probably at the expense of longevity.

You have a set number of units to control and can recruit new ones halfway during battle. You defeat your opponents by reducing their points to zero by destroying units or securing objectives on the map. While killing off small-time units can get you quick points, hitting the more valuable ones, like an M1-Abrams or an Apache gunship, will dock off the most points from the opposing team.

Wargame relies on a lot more detail for terrain and battle conditions than you would think. You will have to keep track of how much slower a tank moves on anything other than tarmac, but also how much fuel it has left and its ammo count. Luckily, you will have access to supply tanks to put them in proper shape, but this also sports the dilemma of keeping them alive and in cover before an enemy finds and destroys them.

Speaking of cover, recon and infantry units can take advantage of foliage, trees, and suburban houses either for hiding or to get additional defense points. Conversely, having any artillery fire on cover can set them on fire, which would make hiding enemies flee or outright kill them. You will also have to keep check on morale; the lower it goes, the higher they end up getting stunned or fleeing automatically from enemies.

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Just like in R.U.S.E., there is no fog of war; all units are revealed as soon as they're in range of other units, depending on their field of view. Le Dressay said that other levels will have rain or snow that will obscure your line of sight and even provide cover bonuses for units with the appropriate camouflage. Interface-wise, you can click on units far away on the horizon on the screen to zoom in on them instantly. All unit information will be listed at the bottom of the page, stating with their ammunition, fuel count, rank, and morale. There is even a handy UI line that tells you the distance or whether an attack will hit whenever you click on a target.

Based on what we observed, a lot of thought and detail went into making this a current-gen re-creation of games like Steel Panthers and Panzer General. While graphically flashy (made possible by the second version of the R.U.S.E. engine), the game has a lot of RTS meat in it that will satiate gamers who wish for something a little more hardcore. Wargame: European Escalation will be out in 2012 and will be released exclusively for the PC.

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