Welcome back to the second installment of the Steel Division 2 dev diaries. In the first one, we talked about the Army General, the new single-player turn-based Dynamic Strategic Campaigns, where you are the commander in charge of your army and have to direct the course of battle during World War 2’s massive Operation Bagration. In this dev diary, we’ll take a look at the real-time tactical battles in Steel Division 2 and how they have changed to reflect the reality of fighting on the Eastern Front.
Before we continue, did you know that the pre-order for Steel Division 2 is now live? From early access to the beta to exclusive Aces and Camos and free DLC, make sure to check out all the different pre-orders that are now available on our webstore.
Important note before reading: All of the images and videos in this article are from an early development version of Steel Division 2. They contain work-in-progress elements, as well as some typos and baguette language. Obviously, this will be fixed in the final version.
Evolution in tactical combat
Compared to the other theatres of the war, the fighting on the Eastern Front was on a truly massive scale – when we talk big, we mean really big – involving hundreds of thousands of men under arms, and tons of tanks, trucks, artillery and planes. The frontlines stretched for many kilometers, much of it being wilderness, low-lying hills or sparsely populated countryside, which we have recreated in our authentic, new maps. This is a big difference from the close combat battlefields we depicted in Steel Division: Normandy 44 with its “bocage country”: almost impenetrable hedgerows that narrowed sight lines and brought the battle forward to knife-fighting range.
Warfare in Belarus was different. That’s why we wanted to evolve the tactical experience, introducing a new scale to match the terrain and the larger distances that the players wouldwill encounter. The nature of the fighting during Operation Bagration made us realize that we needed to make some changes to the tactical battles, to have the fighting be more fun and more realistic at the same time.
We couldn’t have accomplished this new tactical experience in Steel Division 2 without the fantastic support from our community – you, dear player. Thanks to you and your extremely useful feedback and comments in the course of development, we have been able to introduce a host of improvements, updates and new mechanics to the game. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Without further ado, keep reading to find out more about some of the new mechanics and features you might encounter in Steel Division 2.
A new scale of combat
To give you an indication on how combat differed between the Western Front and the Eastern Front in the summer of 1944: the average engagement distance during your typical tank battle was around one kilometer in France, at most, while in Belarus, due to the topography, fights would frequently take place around 1.5 kilometers, and in some cases, even further than that.
The decision was easy for us: we needed to allow the players to fight at longer ranges. Whereas in Normandy we simulated engagements up to one kilometer, in Steel Division 2 we doubled the maximum combat range to roughly two kilometers. It doesn’t simply mean that we multiplied all the distances; it is important to keep the same rhythm and gameplay flow as well. A lot of our mechanics needed to reflect the increase in scale: from armor penetration (read more about that below) to the line of sight mechanic and cover, we have changed quite a few things under the hood. It has been a considerable amount of work, and we are still knee-deep in development, but we are satisfied how some of the changes have turned out.
Changes to tactics
A. Tanks can now move in light forest
It is one of the many details that will change the way you play in Steel Division 2; tanks can now move into light forest. Battles between tanks were far more commonplace on the Eastern Front, and the difference in armor composition between the German and Russian forces was not that dissimilar. The increase in scale means that maps are now more dangerous at longer range, and we needed the player to have more flexibility in planning their options to fight (or hide) from combat. Heavy forest is still off-limits to tanks; like the first game, only infantry can move in this type of terrain.
B. Firing on the move
Tank gun stabilization was pretty non-existent during World War 2. Doctrine across the different sides told any prospective tank commander to not shoot on the move, but as we know from a lot of the action reports we researched, the Russians did use their T-34’s to fire while moving. When they attacked en masse, they used everything they had. So in Steel Division 2, the player can now instruct their tanks to fire on the move while assaulting a position. It might not be a very accurate tactic, but if your crew is skilled enough, you might be able to suppress enemy troops, or – if you are close enough – even destroy them.
C. New armor penetration system
This change is a bit more complex, but we feel upgrading the way armor penetration behaves in the game would better reflect the reality of a typical engagement on the Eastern Front. In the first Steel Division, due to the combat range being capped at one kilometer, the 88 mm gun of a Tiger tank could be less effective compared to the 75 mm gun of a Panther tank when firing at distant targets. To be more realistic, we changed that in Steel Division 2, as the weight and velocity of an 88 mm shell, for instance, will now allow it to penetrate more armor at longer range. This change is across all tanks – not only the guns but also armor – meaning that some of the units you have grown to love will behave more realistic (and differently).
D. More realistic armor display
One of the many small, but important, tweaks is that we display all armor levels in mm’s according to the thickness in real-life. It should be easier to read the exact amount of armor on a vehicle. The new display works hand in hand with the new penetration system, which should allow players to find it easier to figure out if a particular tank gun can penetrate the armor of a target, or in the case of the bigger, nastier tanks, will only dent it.
E. New critical damage models
In Steel Division 2, players will find themselves dealing with more and different types of critical damage across their vehicles. Depending on the kind of weapon, the will do certain forms of critical damage, which should now be more varied and distinct. You might imagine that an HE shell will have a different effect on armor plating compared to an AP shell. Not only that, but airplanes will now also be affected by critical damage; your barrage of AA fire mightcan kill the pilot or set the fuel tank on fire, for instance. Players can now also remedy certain critical damage situations: if your crew gets killed, a support unit can be sent to replace the dead crew members.
F. Special ammunition
Special ammunition is something that we wanted to include in the game for some time now. Historically, both the Germans and Russians developed special ammunition shells. Using exotic materials, they were rare and expensive and only deployed in limited numbers such as the tungsten Panzergranate 40 (Germans) or the BR-365P APCR shell (Russians). We wanted to find a way for older tank models, such as a Panzer III, to pack a punch and have the ability to deal with stronger opponents. At the same time, we wanted to have something that was powerful, more precise, but limited in availability, forcing the player to be careful in when they choose to use their special shells.
Part of a way bigger game
This is just the beginning of a long list of changes and tweaks, new mechanics and systems, we feel does justice to the new setting and experience we set out to recreate in Steel Division 2. We can’t say much more for now, but be sure to check out the upcoming dev diaries as we will lift the veil on a couple of very exciting new features that haven’t been announced yet. If you haven’t done so, wishlist Steel Division 2 on Steam and subscribe to the official newsletter to receive an update when our next dev diary goes live.