By – Carlin Au

Heroes And Generals preview

The Germans have pushed through Northern France and secured Saint-Malo, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Gare Maritime de Dieppe, Calais, and soon, Den Haag. A couple of platoons wait stranded at Den Haag as the Germans have already dropped Paratroopers at Harwich, effectively cutting them off from the mainland. We can already see their forces gearing up for a full-scale invasion of Britain. More than two dozen platoons consisting of tanks, infantry, paratroopers, and fighters stand ready to cross the English Channel. The Battle of Britain has begun; a battle we will soon lose because not enough people are online.

Supply and Demand

I love the idea behind this hybrid FPS/RTS title. Rather than putting RTS elements into an FPS game, the two functions are completely separate but work together quite well.

The RTS part of the game consists of everyone in the game moving their units, also known as Assault Teams, to different positions on a map of Europe. These Assault Teams also count as spawn tickets for your team to join the battle; this is where the FPS part comes in. Battles involve up to 20 people in maps I would estimate at 1×1 km, or about the size of 200 football fields (American) arranged in a square. Now those are some pretty big maps, especially for 20 players! I’m all for giant maps, but when there aren’t enough people to occupy it, it gets… well, boring. Not to mention that this was a closed beta, so it’s not hard to find battles where there’s only two people on one side and two on the other. Of course, this game is in its alpha stage so the player limit is subject to change.

Heroes And Generals preview

With maps already so big for its player limit, Reto-Moto will probably make larger ones tailored to accommodate a bigger player limit. My biggest fear is if the maps already feel too big, how big will the new ones be and how many players do they plan to fit in them? This fear could easily be quelled if there were bots to make the battle feel less empty. Another problem that I found was that ten people will represent any amount of platoons fighting in a battle. A platoon in Heroes and Generals will normally represent 75 Infantrymen, or 75 spawn tickets. For example, if there are six infantry platoons, two tank platoons, three mechanized infantry platoons, and two fighter platoons, how can only ten people represent them? In a real battle, all of those units would get involved in some intense, close fighting on a battlefield with the same size as some of the maps in Heroes and General. When battles that would actually be completely filled, ten people doesn’t justify the kind of battle that should be happening. That’s something I’ve found strange, that ten people can represent almost a thousand.

Semi-Realism

There’s something wonky about my M1 Garand; it feels so… not powerful. Sure, there’s bullet drop at longer distances, but one or two shots from it should definitely put someone down. Sure, the bullet drop is easily fixed by zeroing your weapon. Sure, you can completely customize your weapon to change its damage, recoil, accuracy, or rate of fire. There are all these things you can do to make your weapon everything you’d want it to be, but it never quite feels right. Most of the weapons feel very sluggish and unpolished. Naturally, these things are subject to change before release.

I do enjoy playing the game at night because the time of day in every map changes as the day goes by in real-time. It’s a nice little feature to the game that keeps things somewhat fresh, because people will react differently at depending on the times. The night setting will bring out the cautious and stealthy nature of people whereas during the day, everyone is in full assault. Attacking at night would give the player an advantage over the other team because that team would normally be sleeping at the time of the attack. I’m in full assault no matter what time it is though. The time of day changes really add a level of strategy to the game.

Heroes And Generals preview

Oh, and the tank combat is fun. I don’t believe people realize yet that AP shells are for tanks and HE shells are for infantry. The enemy tends to get their arse handed to them because they don’t know that… and when I’ve got my sights on them. Playing with tanks is a lot like a game of cat and mouse. Generally, the infantry are the mice and the tanks are the cats. In all seriousness, tank versus tank combat is a very cautious and stealthy game to play. There’s always a tank somewhere in a forest or on the outskirts of the map, trying “snipe” anything in its view. Then there’s always tanks hunting other tanks that are unaware of the tank hunters because they would rather destroy infantry than tanks. That usually becomes a contest in who can outflank whom.

Last thing I want to mention were the planes in this game, because mainly that I saw little to no dog-fighting. It’s okay though since the planes’ controls could be smoother. I wish there was a first-person view for planes mainly because it’s hard to tell how far away things are and it would be easier to control the planes. Maybe if the darn thing didn’t take up half the screen, I suppose it wouldn’t be too bad. That’s not all though; the planes’ bombs are hard to predict. This is mainly because the only thing they give you to aim with is a circle, which is for the mounted machine gun in the front. Then again, I could always try to dive bomb which normally ends up with me clipping through the ground and landing unscathed.

Heroes And Generals preview

WOOT, Options!

When I saw the game for the first time through the screenshots of the main page, I sort of squealed. The game is beautiful for a free-to-play game, bugs aside. There aren’t a ton of options, but the inclusion of many good ones makes up for it. In the options menu, the player can change the resolution, graphical quality, shadow quality, terrain quality, cloud quality, FOV, HDR, SSAO, and full screen mode. Not a load of options, but enough to keep me happy.

Ending Thoughts

Heroes and Generals is a game I would definitely want to play in the future. That concept of using platoons as spawn tickets is brilliant as well as involving everyone in a single fight for Europe. The maps are large, which helps make the battles in Europe more believable. I do wish that they could increase the player limit; it would make the maps feel less empty. Not only that, but the way weapons work can really slow the pace down. Realistically, a bullet fired from an M1 Garand would kill someone with one or two shots. Then again, realism isn’t always a good thing. I have a love/hate relationship with Reto-Moto’s idea of semi-realism. Good for balance, but not exactly practical.

Of course, everything is subject to change because this is a game currently in its closed beta stage. Heroes and Generals is so far, a game built an awesome concept with potential, but doesn’t hide its shortcomings.  If you are interested, sign up for the beta here and check out more information on the official site.

 

Heroes & Generals Technical Summary:

      • Time Played: 15 Hours
      • Widescreen Support: Yes
      • 5.1 Audio: No
      • Bugs Encountered: Clipping and Animation issues, Graphical Issues
      • Control Scheme: Mouse & Keyboard
      • System Specs: Phenom II X4 955, Radeon HD 6870, 4GB of RAM
      • Game Acquisition Method: Press Beta Key

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  • Steven S

    This looks very interesting in concept. I do wonder about the One Man Platoon part of it thought. Is it that you move a platoon to an area and engage in FPS combat and if you die you respawn as the next member of the platoon? That would make sense in a way as the number of “lives” you have is your platoon size. At least this is what I gathered from the review, if I’m wrong then please let me know how it really works.

    • http://twitter.com/DominusBelli Carlin Au (@DominusBelli)

      Yep that’s correct. Platoon sizes are the same as the amount of respawns allowed in that game. Example: An Infantry platoon has 75 people in it; you can be a member of that platoon 75 times.
      It makes sense, yes. I’m still not a huge fan since the battle sizes are limited by player count. In the full game, I imagine that there would be 32v32, which might be enough to have some good battles, although the player count right now is way too low to justify the map sizes and respawn count. Hopefully before the game is on its full release, more people will play it… all Reto-Moto needs is some good marketing to get more attention.
      Thanks for reading!

      • Steven S

        I could see how having a group of say 15 players per side would work out much better for the FPS parts. You would have to decide if a 75 troop platoon means each player gets 5 spawns or if they all draw from the same community pool. The problem comes from deciding who gets to make the RTS choices for platoon movement. This leaves the bot system you mentioned. One person controlling themselves and bots for the rest of their platoon. I’d imagine something along the lines of Mount & Blade where you get to lead your troops but only have one life for yourself.

        This game has definitely peaked my interest.

      • http://twitter.com/DominusBelli Carlin Au (@DominusBelli)

        Platoon movement is controlled by other players; how it works is each player buys their own platoons and moves them around the map. So basically, everyone controls platoon movement.
        A bot system like Mount & Blade would definitely work, as platoons are formed in 8 man squads (Consisting of 1 Squad Leader, 2 Machine Gunners, 5 Rifleman). If a bot system were to be put in place, I’d imagine that the squad leader would take lead, of course. A bot system was only an idea I had that could potentially improve the game, but probably won’t implemented. If they bump up the player count, something like a bot system will not be needed.

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