World War II. Yes, admittedly it’s been the setting for more shooters than I can remember. So what makes Heroes & Generals special when compared to all the rest? Well, the main point would be that instead of your typical match-based shooter where every round is a contained event, the game provides a living and persistent game world where the players are actually shaping the lay of the land. It’s also a game that adds a higher level of command to the war, bringing RTS elements into this FPS MMO. Yes, that’s a lot of letters.
Let’s start with the basics. The game is browser based. So you connect to the H&G website, login, and then get the war map come up. There are many options and features to get used to and it can seem a little daunting. But with a little patience and the help of the handy “Guide” button in the corner, it all starts coming together.
The game is made up of various gameplay elements, the main focus naturally being on the FPS elements. Players can create up to three characters (thus far) from various classes, like rifleman, pilot, tank driver or others. Each class starts with a set collection of equipment. As you play through the game and earn points you can buy new weapons and gear. This will let you customize your characters to either improve them in their chosen field or to change them to something new. If you equip your rifleman with a sniper rifle instead of an assault rifle then you will now be counted as a sniper. Different maps will have restrictions on what classes are permitted.
The gameplay takes a more realistic approach than most shooters. Rather than super bullets traveling infinite distances, H&G uses physics and gravity. Taking those up close range shots is easy, but when firing at large distances you have to account for bullet drop and aim accordingly. It can be quite challenging at first but as you get used to the various weapons you start to get used to it.
The landscapes are very well designed giving players many approaches to each control point and a lot of options as to how to attack. The lone gunman or co-ordinated attack can both be equally effective. Of course as you’re rushing along to take the point and eliminate the enemy you might notice the great detail present on the map. From bunkers to villages, everything looks great and fits the time period.
Adding a bit more strategy to the game you have assault squads. These are groups of units that players put together and move around the map. Squads can be used to bring large groups of forces to the field and give the player a lot of options as to just what to use in a battle. They will also help bring reinforcements to suffering allies or to help with that big push. The game map, which lists a huge amount of cities and outposts is connected by a web of supply lines. For a supply line to work it has to be connect to the faction’s capitol. Controlling various points and trying to cut off these lines is a key tactics. Moving a large group of squads to an area can help keep areas of the map under the thumb of the Axis or Allies.
Points on the map can be defended and reinforced. When defending a faction can plan for attacks from various directions. But you can take advantage of that while in battle. You move your squad in from one direction and begin the battle along with your allies. If the battle is dragging out then you can give your friends a shout and have them bring their forces in from other directions. They will get their own spawn locations on the map and be able to attack the enemy from a new direction, changing the flow of battle. Of course you have to be careful because the enemy can call in reinforcements of their own. This makes the battles feel a lot more alive and fluid.
I had a chance to get some more answers about the game from Game Director Jacob Andersen.
Comics & Gaming Magazine: I'd like to learn a little more about your company and what other projects you've worked on.
Jacob Andersen: My name is Jacob Andersen, I'm the Game Director of Heroes & Generals here at Reto-Moto. We are a small Copenhagen based independent developer consisting of a good portion of Hitman-veterans.
I have worked on video games for more than 20 years, all the way back to Commodore Amiga and Sega MegaDrive. The games I have worked on inlcude the first four Hitman games, design and game direction, and Freedom Figthers, design and graphics.
CGM: What are some of the goals for Heroes & Generals?
JA: Growing the game to include wars with thousands of players. Multiple factions and battlefronts. I could go on and on. Obviously we wish to create a huge WWII wargame and our plan is to keep expanding it as long as players want to play it.
CGM: How large will battles eventually be?
JA: It's hard to say. Tanks are heavy because of the physics involved and planes are light, so we can have dog fights with maybe 100 planes but the tank battles are more limited, maybe 20. I cannot give you a precise number here as it is something we are constantly improving.
CGM: What player options do you hope to have with the final game?
JA: A great variety of guns, vehicles and uniforms. We already have a great weapon-modification system and we are working on a similar system for vehicles.
CGM: How much character customization will there be?
JA: Our character system can handle different combinations of uniforms. We have down-prioritized facial features in favour of more weapons. The weapons are where the player can customize his characters the most. Besides we also have a perk-based ribbons and badges system.
CGM: Can you tell me a little more about just how gameplay works for the various features? The FPS, squad command and general gameplay?
JA: In the FPS, teams work together trying to capture 'capture points' on the map with the objective of either capturing the map or defending it. The 'Generals' or Commanders controls what units are available in a battle by moving Assault Teams on the campaign map. The Assault Teams contains the 'spawn' resources; men, tanks, planes etc, that are used during the FPS battle. Commanders will have to combine different Assault Teams in order to counter enemy Assault Teams. The faction that captures the enemy's capital wins the war.
CGM: What will the pricing be on the game? How will the Free-to-Play model be used?
JA: The game is Free to Play. Players can play as long as they wish and good players will be able to get very far in the game given they spend the time. Less 'time-fortunate' players can purchase new characters and weapons.
CGM: What will players have access to with money?
JA: Most weapons, mods, characters, vehicles and Assault Teams will be purchasable but some will only be available if you play. Other purchasable items include custom insignia and uniforms.
CGM: Will there be any set events, or will all world developments be tied only to the players' actions?
JA: The game is entirely player driven and we do not have any pre-baked events. We have discussed the future possibility of including single-player missions though, as they would offer more for the players and help balance the multiplayer games; if you can't find an open slot you can go on a solo mission.