Ask a gamer to name an RTS and Men of War isn’t likely to pop up very often. Despite favorable reviews, including the admiration of top RTS critics, Men of War and its follow-up never escaped the shadow of Company of Heroes or the looming onslaught of StarCraft II. Higher marketing budgets are obvious reasons, but changing trends are equally to blame. Like it or not, most RTS games are going for smaller battles with amped up action. Meanwhile, Men of War: Assault Squad is sticking to its guns with massive conflicts, a devotion to realism, and a new emphasis on multiplayer.
Assault Squad still has single-player levels, but multiplayer is a huge focus of Assault Squad. In fact, the only way to create a custom mission against the AI (thus far) is to team up with another player for a cooperative beatdown. Cooperative play isn’t new to the series, but now you can bring seven of your friends to the party. The maps in Assault Squad range from quaint villages perfect for 1-on-1 matches to the sprawling landscapes the series is known for.
Competitive multiplayer comes in three varieties for up to 12 players. The objective-based Assault Zone will be familiar to RTS players. Combat is a slight twist on a typical deathmatch in which every kill builds points instead of trying to wipe out an entire army. Frontline is the most unique. One player goes on the offensive and tries to break through three lines of defenses established by the other player.
I have news for many of you. WWII was not won or lost solely by the power of tanks. Of course, this isn’t the impression that you get from playing the average RTS. More often than not, a player’s chances of victory, not too mention level of cockiness, is directly proportional to the number of tanks he can spew onto the battlefield. I like diversity. I enjoy making legions of motorcyclists, trucking infantry along roadways, and creating specialized units. As you can imagine, I lose, a lot.
Assault Squad is making drastic changes to the usual game of metal warfare. Low level Shermans are about all the average player will see, and if you can field even a single Tiger, stand proud. You earned it. In place of tanks, Assault Squad is overhauling the infantry to be more effective. Mind you, a typical rifleman will still die after a few seconds of exposed gunfire, but improved range, damage, and numbers make well-commanded infantrymen into forces to be reckoned with.
Obviously, such extensive changes mean that the entire game must be rebalanced, which is where DigitalMindSoft shows its commitment to making Assault Squad as polished as possible. Assault Squad is currently in open beta on Steam and could almost be mistaken for a final product, but DigitalMindSoft is still hard at work behind the scenes, tweaking numbers and speaking with players to make Men of War: Assault Squad into a serious contender in the multiplayer scene.
Potential beta testers can register HERE.