Silent Hunter: Wolves of the Pacific U-Boat Missions Q&A - First Details and Strategic Gameplay
Lead game designer Dan Dimitrescu discusses what you can expect from this expansion pack for Silent Hunter: Wolves of the Pacific.
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Submarine simulation games aren't as common anymore as armchair admirals might like, but this year's Silent Hunter: Wolves of the Pacific did a great job of simulating what it might have been like to dive into submarine warfare in the Pacific during World War II. Now, the waters of the Pacific are set to expand with U-Boat Missions, a new add-on due next year that will let you take the helm of a German U-Boat and patrol the Indian Ocean, and it will introduce a brand-new layer of strategic gameplay. For more details, we sat down with lead game designer Dan Dimitrescu.
GameSpot: We understand that the expansion will offer more options than Wolves of the Pacific, such as "strategic support." How does this new system work?
Dan Dimitrescu: With the arrival of the German campaign in U-Boat Missions, players gain control over additional strategic resources other than their own submarines. These resources can be used towards the goal of sinking enemy shipping by either helping the player locate enemies--i.e., the scout planes--or by directly attacking them.
GS: How does strategic support affect the gameplay?
DD: The most important feature is that the units controlled by the strategic gameplay now report contacts and combat the enemy even when away from the player's location. This is a great tool in attacking enemy ships, but on the other hand, the player has to exercise caution and be careful not to cause the indirect loss of said units. In other words, do not direct your armed merchant cruisers to intercept enemy battleship groups--if you care for the lives of those brave sailors, that is.
GS: Where did this feature come from? Was it a real-world consideration from historical battles?
DD: The actual concept of a submarine commander giving direct orders to aircraft or surface warships is admittedly a little stretched from reality, but not by much. In a large-scale war, there's always information flowing to and from submarines, and commanders often reposition their battle groups or divert resources based on feedback from the units in the field. Submarines benefit greatly from sighting reports from scout planes (one needs only to read the memoirs of Grand Admiral Dönitz to see how many times he requested scout planes for support), and it makes perfect sense for a form of collaboration similar to what we've modeled here to take shape.
GS: Is this new feature available only in the new German campaign?
DD: As of now, the strategic-support features are available only for the new German campaign in U-Boat Missions. However, there is nothing stopping enterprising modders from adding it to the U.S. campaign.
GS: Walk us through how strategic support can be used to accomplish a mission. How does this new feature work in practice?
DD: The same steps one takes in hunting a lone submarine apply here. Find the target, position for attack, and then deliver a crushing blow. With scout planes, finding a target is obviously easier since their speed and detection range is much greater than yours. Positioning your cruiser groups is an exercise in the art of interception. The final part, the actual battle, is simply a matter of bringing enough resources to overcome the enemy. Don't take chances and you won't be surprised by the results.
GS: Does the expansion add any new units to the strategic game?
DD: Units available to command include the recon plane (from land bases), the German auxiliary cruiser, the German heavy cruiser, the Japanese carrier group (call recon plane), the Japanese cruiser group, and Japanese taskforce units.
GS: We understand that there are new units and abilities. How do players access them?
DD: Unlocking the auxiliary units is based on the player's rank, and the rank is achieved based on the number of successful patrols and renown that has been gained.
GS: Are the strategic modes optional? Can the game be played without this new feature?
DD: The strategic game cannot be turned off except by modding the game, but there's nothing forcing players to use the new abilities. So, if you prefer a "traditional" Silent Hunter experience, commanding only your own submarine, you can choose to do that.
GS: Thanks, Dan.