Greetings, fans of the Great War mod!
The development team has been quite busy recently with testing the mod in various ways, mostly with the aim of increasing stability and getting the various pieces of the product fused together. As has been stated before, a lot still remains to be done, but most of that which is in the works right now is based on strengthening the core of 5.0, rather than implementing new features altogether.
Included in this process is of course lots of beta testing, some of which is carried out online. One of our major goals with 5.0 is a greater amount of balance between units, another has been fun multiplayer battles (although arguably, rushing patriotic levies at someone in 4.6 could be quite entertaining, too!). Old followers may however recall the total and complete domination that a single artillery unit would have over the battlefield in the 4.x updates; this is going away and will be replaced by a much more intricate system of reliance where each unit has a defined role to play.
For instance, something that will become obvious when playing battles is that due to the way certain units behave, they will have natural niches to fill. A female tank, equipped solely with MGs, makes for an excellent anti-infantry platform but will have to retreat when the heavier guns arrive. Cavalry will be cut down quickly by rifle and machinegun fire, but if used carefully and at the right moment can deliver efficient charges on an enemy. These systems of balance may seem easy to plan, but are harder to execute. The team has already noted a few errors and issues that need fixing, and are making steadfast progress on delivering a functioning and stable mod, but more problems will have to be cleared until that perfect vision of an entertaining, balanced and hopefully crash-free mod is achieved.
Below follows a retelling of the weekend's multiplayer beta testing, as brought to you by Aanker, one of the mod team's texturers and gameplay designers.
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Aanker wrote: We have been playtesting the mod quite extensively in MP recently. Mitch, I , King Sama and Brewster (the latter two joined for a 2v2 battle) fought viciously on a number of maps to try the arsenal of weapons and units in the Beta version of the mod.
The first battle was fought between me (Britain) and Mitch (Germany) on Arcole (a vanilla map with two villages separated by a swamp, with bridges spanning across a number of rivers). We both used a combination of assault infantry and tanks to attack, as in my case, or defend, as in Mitch's case. What ensued was an epic battle over a town, with tanks pounding each other as brutal exchanges of rifle fire mowed down attacking infantry. Mitch destroyed one of my British tanks with his (male) A7V, scoring a remarkable multiplayer first. My female tanks proved decisive, however, as they laid down fire along the length of my opponent's defensive line. The battle then turned into a street fight, where Mitch's tanks under the crowded conditions failed to perform: they were overrun by my proud Can-eeh-diens (phonetic spelling attempt). A cavalry assault managed to deal some damage to my regular infantry, proving that under the right circumstances, such charges can still yield quite impressive results. The attacked town was left a smoldering ruin after the battle.
The second battle was a typical full-on assault by my French infantry against Mitch's defending elite infantry on the Pyramids map - essentially a sandy land of dunes. With some luck, I managed to sneak in a unit of SMG infantry behind Mitch's lines, but the plan to take his infantry by surprise in the heat of battle failed, as they were discovered before the advancing French forces could make contact. "Bah", exclaimed I, "vive la France!", I finished, as my infantry lowered their bayonets to charge the Germans. A number of bunkers managed to mow down most of the assault, but surprisingly, the battle turned into a lengthy affair mostly thanks to the extreme efficiency of SMG infantry at close range (even my prematurely discovered SMG infantry managed to deal some damage). Mitch, the clever German, had however snuck in a unit of assault infantry behind my lines, puncturing the momentum of the successful flanking attack. A brutal close-range fire exchange ensued. Grenades were thrown with mad enthusiasm. More French died, but Mitch was pushed back: this did prove that mass infantry assaults could still dent the defender. His retreat was mostly tactical in nature, however, and as I approached his infantry for the final engagement mine was mostly a collection of worn-down miserables. A defeat ensued - suspiciously, Mitch kept some footage of this battle, but not the previous one.
The next battle took some time to arrange, but turned into a glorious 1914/1915-like engagement on the previously described map, Arcole. Since Brewster mistakenly (but perhaps not so anachronistically, as the French were some of the first to adopt helmets and newer uniforms to deal with the extraordinary conditions of trench warfare) recruited some middle-era infantry as the French, we agreed that it would be most fair if the entente (Sama played as Britain together with 'le Brewsteur') were the attackers, and the central powers (Mitch and I played as 'ze' Germans) the defenders. This battle was particularly vicious, but also very impressive, as a full-scale brutish frontal offensive sought to take the defended town by storm. Brewster's upgraded infantry outranged our older infantry, forcing us to retreat to the very perimeter of the town, where we held our ground against advancing British forces. Under a punishing rain of fire, the British were mown down by the hundreds, but it should be noted that a substantially more successfull attack on our northern lines, coupled with a foray in the south by the French, came close to breaking through. If our enemies had diverted their efforts there, we could have been surrounded and subsequently destroyed, but as it was, we managed to replenish our lost regiments in the north and hold the frontal assault at bay near a river crossing. When The British high command noticed the casualties Sama's corps were taking, he was rapidly transferred to another segment of the front (read: he crashed), leaving Brewster alone with a new, exciting but somewhat whimsical commander (read: the AI). Brewster shouted "vive la France!", and charged, crashing into a number of units holding the town perimeter, including a troop of marines. While most of the charged units had already been fairly bludgeoned and gave way to the French, the marines held on to their position, turning the Franzosen (spelling?) back. Victory was had.
We had two more 1v1 battles, but these were largely unremarkable (though quite immersive). One was a brave Canadian attack against the defending forces of Mitch's Germany. It was sadly a defeat, mostly due to the confusion and haste that the attack was performed with. The second battle turned into a slugfest between the French and the Germans on a mysterious map that none of us had seen before; a vanilla map cut from the game before the final release. The French emerged victorious, and Mitch emerged furious. I celebrated my final win with croissants and baguettes, but also with the knowledge that a number of issues had been encountered and were in the process of being fixed.
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