*UPDATED! (05/18) – Looks like Reto-Moto had some comments regarding our preview of their upcoming Heroes & Generals, which you are about to checkout below. I have included their responses in indented italics and Judgeman’s responses to their responses in indented bold.

Independent game studio, Reto-Moto, is currently in development with their newest World War II game named Heroes and Generals, and we got our first look this week while they ran their pre-beta testing phase.  Heroes and Generals is a combined real time strategy and first person shooter game set during the largest conflict of the last century, World War II.  Heroes and Generals is a game that runs within your browser and is set to be free to play, but you can spend money to improve the game through micro-transactions.  Since this is in pre-beta testing, the game ran understandably inconsistent and the graphics aren’t quite finished yet, so with this preview of the game, I will just focus on the actual concept and game play.

Heroes and Generals is an ambitious title, combining aspects of the real time strategy game genre with that of the first person shooters that are littering the industry today.  At the heart of the game, players will select a campaign to participate in, and then select a faction.  Currently there are only two factions, the Germans and the United States.  Once a faction is selected, you must play only as that faction for the remainder of the campaign.  There is no such thing as auto-balance in Heroes and Generals, so if you join the game as the sole American against an army of Germans, good luck.

Once the faction has been picked, then the player gets to set up the soldiers that he or she will be playing as.  Each soldier fits into a certain category and has a set of starting gear, which is extremely light to start with.  A rifleman for the United States starts off with an M1 Garand and a Kbar knife.  That’s it.  You can buy more equipment, weapon mods that improve the performance of your weapons, side arms and grenades with credits that can be earned after each battle or bought with real money.  This buying of equipment with real money will be discussed later with one of my concerns with Heroes and Generals.

The player is then introduced to the strategy part of Heroes and Generals.  The map of the campaign shows exactly which faction controls which parts of the country, where the resources are for your faction, and which towns are currently being fought for.  Players can move resources via transportation corridors to the towns that need them the most.  These resources do carry over to the first person shooter part of the game, which determines who controls the town through direct combat.  The first person shooter combat plays very closely to the old classic Battlefield 1942, but with the limitations or gains that have been decided by the strategy section of Heroes and Generals.  For instance, if you moved enough resources to a town that you need to defend, then you can start the combat with tanks or air power, instead of just infantry.

The combat will see three different types of games, team death match, domination, and resources collecting.  Once the objectives have been met, the team that wins will be awarded with the town and the resources for their faction.  Each soldier is then given credits that they can use in the player screen to improve their soldiers, buy new classes, or build their own assault squads with tanks or fighter planes.

The idea behind Heroes and Generals is very interesting, but I feel that it’s still missing quite a bit.  For one, it does need some sort of balancing between the two factions.  When I played my first campaign, I dutifully selected the Americans and found that we were outnumbered almost three to one as a faction.  This led to a lack of resources for our side, and being outnumbered in every game that I played during the first person shooter phase.  The game also didn’t run as smooth as I would have liked within my browser, but Heroes and Generals is in a pre-beta phase, so that might get fixed.  My computer is also getting on the old side, so the culprit could have been on my side too.

My biggest concern with Heroes and Generals will be the micro-transactions for equipment.  Micro-transactions are the future of gaming; we need to just get that through our collective heads already.  However, the best way to do micro-transactions for a game is to allow players to buy items that do not give them a distinct advantage over players that do not buy items in the game’s shop.

We agree!

The model that Team Fortress 2 has followed is the best example of this; no weapon in the shop gives the player an advantage over a player that uses the base weapons, due to the negatives that can be found on purchased weapons.  An example of this is how the player may gain critical hits to his weapon, but will lose the air blast for their pyro.

Exactly!

With Heroes and Generals, there is no such balancing.  A player willing to spend tons of cash modifying his weapons will be able to one-shot anyone on the field, versus a player that cannot spend that cash and will have to use the lower quality in game items that they are given.

This is actually not the case, or at least this is not our intention! Each weapon has 5 parameters: Rate of Fire, Recoil, Damage, Range, Precision and each modifier works on these parameters. Our weapon modification system is a balanced system where each modification increases one parameter, but decreases another parameter. One example could be the “Hair Trigger”, which increases the Rate of Fire, but decreases the Range. So you can’t buy a super-gun which is maxed out in all parameters, but instead you can specialize a weapon so it fits your playing style.

That’s a fair response. I did spend some time on modifications, but truth be told never noticed the balance with them due to the fact that the game did not run smooth at all on my machine graphically. I would be willing to retract that part of my preview.

This “pay to win” model will be fine for the players that want to invest both the time and money into the game, but will be a hard sell on anyone that doesn’t have the cash to be competitive or have just started the game using the base weapons.

First of all, we don’t see our system as a pay to win system at all, and we strive to make a balanced and fair system. Secondly, you still earn credits by playing the game, and these credits can be used to purchase characters, weapons, weapon modifiers and assault teams. And even if you do use real money, you actually only “buy time” – all current items can be purchased by credits, so as a “free” player you can still buy and access everything if you play the game long enough.And even if you do modify your weapon, you still need to be able to use it properly. Unskilled players will never be able to be better than skilled players. That’s in the nature of twitch-based games. But if you modify your weapon, a medium skilled player might get a better chance against a highly skilled player.

People with money will still be better off earlier than others, so that point is still valid. I see their position on people earning credits to buy things just by playing the game, but the game still gives an advantage to those that are willing to pay real money to unlock things early.

Only time will tell once the game is released whether my concerns are valid, or just the ranting of a jaded gamer.

One other aspect we’re working on, but haven’t implemented yet is something we call “Social Free2Play”. The ideas is that as a commander, you can modify your Assault Team. One example could be that you want the machinegunners in your Assault Team to be able to shoot faster. So you do an Assault Team modification to the machineguns, which makes them shoot faster (but with an decreased accuracy for instance) and then when a player joins a mission where this Assault Team is in battle, he can choose to use the machinegun provided by the Assault Team, or he can just use his own. This model also applies to vehicles and other equipment. So the “spending” a commander does on his Assault Team, actually benefits other players as well. So he kind of “gives a round to the house”. We don’t believe that we have seen this model anywhere else.

I had no idea that the modifications transferred to all assault members as I couldn’t find any mention of that in the game.

Overall, Reto-Moto has something definitely different with Heroes and Generals in combing aspects of the strategy game genre with the first person shooter genre within a persistent world.  I will be interested in seeing the publics reactions to this once it’s released.

Screenshots