First Look: Heroes & Generals «

To say Heroes & Generals is ambitious would be an understatement. Reto-Moto — a new development studio made up of IO Interactive veterans — wants to do for World War II shooters what EVE Online has done for space combat: create a persistent, living and breathing battlefield across 1940s Europe. By mixing in ideas from tabletop strategy games like RISK and a control and capture gametype from Battlefield, H&G looks to create a type of gameplay I’ve never seen before. Right now it’s very early, but it’s hard to deny how much promise it has.


Because H&G will play out in a persistent online world with other players (an MMO, if you will), most of the planning and coordination with your team will be done through the Generals strategy screen, which you can access from any web browser. From here you can see a large number of zones, cities, airfields, and towns with intersecting lines, all of which signify a route along which you can guide your assault team and plan what areas you want to control or attack.

Your assault team will be composed of whatever units you’ve unlocked (or purchased), like squad leaders, machine gunners, or riflemen. You could even have an aircraft-tank team backing up your infantry — in fact, encouraging a variety of assault teams is the basis for H&G’s free-to-play model. So if you’d like to have more than one basic assault team, then you’ll think about dropping some coin on vehicles, for example. Reto-Moto says it’s yet to be determined what we’ll get for free versus what we’ll be asked to pay for content, or the work involved in unlocking extras without spending money.

And if the enemy decides to try to hold the city? Well, then you’ve got a fight on your hands.

This should give you an idea how the strategy and team coordination can play out: say you have a general assault squad made of infantry, but your dorm-room buddy has a group of tanks. If you coordinate your assaults on a small enemy-held village, then you can move your squads in realtime to surround the city, trying to force the enemy into a retreat. And if the enemy decides to try to hold the city? Well, then you’ve got a fight on your hands.

Heroic Action

Assuming you don’t want math to dictate the winner through auto-resolve, the first-person shooter portion of H&G will start up, much like how Battlefield 3’s battlelog launches BF3. And like Battlefield, these maps have a series of control points that also work as spawn locations which must be captured in a specific order, depending on your approach to the battlefield.

I like these odds.

This design allows the defensive side to fortify positions of interest, knowing the location of the next attack. But if you have your buddy approach the map from the north while you attack from the south, now the enemy will have to split their forces in two. As the battle rages, both the Allies and the Axis troops could bring in reinforcements (assuming the supply lines are open), so if you manage to break their lines they’ll be forced to retreat or suffer a defeat.

When I saw H&G at GDC (where Internet connections are less than ideal,) it required a lot of imagination to picture how a battle could play out. On this particular battlefield, only one soldier was driving a jeep through the village and across a European countryside. Currently, it can support about 20 players at once, but Reto-Moto aims to have 64-player maps by the time H&G enters beta this summer.

Designing the Future

With so many other plans in place, like integrated Android and iOS apps that work in tandem with the PC game (for example, calling in airstrikes on your iPhone while your compatriots are fighting in the trenches) sound like novel ideas. Even so, there are other questions, like how easy will it be for players to hop into a battle if they’re not RTS pros? How long (potentially) can one battle take? Will it be necessary to guide players to a certain region of Europe?

Tank versus airplane versus…man on bicycle?

Reto-Moto’s goal for Heroes & Generals, I’m told, is to simply let the war carryout as natural as can be, citing EVE Online’s practice of letting its players dictate the rules of space as a perfect example. I just hope they can pull it off.


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