previews\ Oct 14, 2011 at 9:13 am

Wargame: European Escalation Preview


In 2010, Eugen Games released a title published by Ubisoft called RUSE. A real-time strategy game, the title was met with some success, and it even supported features such as multi-touch screens for the PC and PS Move support for the PS3.

Since that game, Eugen has moved onto a new game that can satisfy a tactical RTS itch for PC gamers everywhere: Wargame: European Escalation. Taking place in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s during the heyday of the Cold War, Wargame: European Escalation puts players in control of both sides of a fictional conflict between NATO and the Soviet forces.

Core gameplay is something you would expect from a niche title from Eugen. Players are given real life units and infantry to battle it out over the fields of Germany in this alternate history. With over 320 real life machine types, ordering forces across fields is an exercise in recon and battle. Between sending troops into forests or buildings for extra cover, utilizing helicopters to swoop down from above, or sending a recon unit ahead to scope out the actual units players are taking on, there is a lot going on.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and declare Wargame: European Escalation to be very niche, and that anyone who is interested are going to have to prepare themselves for a potentially overwhelming game. Each individual unit have so many small details about it, so it’s very easy to lose track of things. However, those practiced in deep strategic gameplay will find there is a lot to like here.

One area I can immediately appreciate is how good this game looks on the highest settings. Outside of some texture issues of the roads, Wargame: European Escalation looks great. From the cleanly designed houses, to the way the trees and fences on the fields will collapse under tanks, there is an impressive attention to detail on both the micro and macro world views. Players can zoom as close in as infantry unit sizes to zooming out a whopping 12 kilometers into the sky while the battles below pan out. Eugen representatives indicated that there are over 100 million objects on these maps. It’s impressive, and while you’d need a substantial rig to run it on these highest settings,  even low-end machines can run the game--although it wont be nearly as pretty.

Finally, the game will offer a multiplayer mode with up to 8 players. I wasn’t shown how this looks when all eight are duking it out over a map, but I did see that there are plenty of tactical variations, such as 1v7 or other extreme game types. Like the RPG elements of a FPS, the more players play, the more experience they will earn, allowing them access to more and more of the 320 unit types. It looks to be plenty compelling, but without some hands on time with this mode, it’s hard to see how addictive it can be.

Ultimately, I came away impressed with Wargame: European Escalation. It doesn’t look to do anything particularly amazing or revolutionary, but it does look to fit a popular niche in a good-looking and playable package. PC gamers wont have to wait long before jumping in, as the game launches in November.

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