The Great War: Western Front offers a challenging and realistic take on trench warfare
We've been hands-on with Petroglyph's RTS title, where we were tasked with winning a part of the battle of Passchendaele.
The World Wars have been adapted and turned into countless games over the years. Whether they come in the form of shooters or strategy titles, this monumental period of human history has been explored so many times in an interactive sense that it's hardly surprising to see a new kid on the block, if you will. Coming from Petroglyph Games, I've had the chance to try out the RTS title The Great War: Western Front, as part of a hands-on preview event, where I got to lead troops in an attempt to win a part of the famous Passchendaele battle.
Immediately upon loading in, it becomes apparent - like the conflict itself - that this is not a game for the faint-hearted. There are a lot of strategy elements, and if you fail to manage them correctly, you will lose. Between actually organising your troops and managing supply resources that determine how many actions you can undertake or battalions you can order, all the way to actually guiding and leading each squadron as a field general, there's a lot to unpack. And you'll need to become familiar with each system, as you'll be expected to take and hold various important objectives on a map, by using smart strategy to give your troops an opportunity to overcome the Central Powers' forces defending them.
Now as this is the First World War, military strategy isn't as defined as it is today. Rather you'll be asking your troops to sprint across no man's land, through a hail of bullets and artillery shells, all to make it to the enemy trenches, in an effort to capture them for yourself. You do have tools to aid your armies in this matter, including a plentiful array of ally artillery strikes that can suppress enemy units, directly attack and damage them, or simply provide cover for your guys through the usage of Rolling Barrages (which are essentially very rudimentary smokescreens). How you use your artillery backfield in cohesion with your assaulting troops will directly determine how successful individual attacks will be, and whether or not you have the manpower to claim vital objectives on each battlefield.
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The enemy will do what it can to reclaim taken objectives, by mounting counter-attacks that you have to manage, by ensuring you have defending forces and have available artillery attacks to cut down charging enemy units. Not only do you have to think offensively, planning attacking formations to gain new ground, but also defensively to ensure you retain claimed points and not use too many supplies in the process. As you can see, there's a lot to handle, and it can be stressful and very challenging to manage, especially when you sprinkle in aerial warfare and a list of objectives that you need to complete within a specific time period. This is truly a WW1 strategy game for true fans of the genre.
Due to the fact that I only got to play one level during the hands-on session, I cannot comment on how the living battlefields - that change depending on previous fought encounters - shape up. And likewise, I can't touch upon the differences between the Allied or Central Powers, because I've only been able to play as the former. But it is clear that developer Petroglyph Games has a knack for realism, because not only do the battlefields feel immersive, but the conflict is brutal and tough, and you will be sending countless men to a miserable fate, as was the case with the trench warfare in WW1 in reality.
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I'm interested to see how armour, new levels, and further units change up the gameplay, so I'll be paying attention to see what Petroglyph has in store for The Great War: Western Front as we near its release date sometime in 2023.