The good: Realistic and tactical gameplay | Incredible atmosphere
The bad: Weapons and modifications are high-priced | Still a few minor glitches and bugs in some occasions
Heroes and Generals is the latest project by ambitious developers Reto-Moto aiming at bringing a realistic WWII experience right to the internet browser. In fact two games in one, this remarkable title lets players decide whether to take on the role of a mercenary to have a massive first-person shooter experience jumping straight into the heat of the battle, or to participate in the RTS part becoming the general responsible for the grand strategy. Both parts of the game are tied to one another, as players will interact with each other in a huge single campaign, "meanwhile" helping their faction to achieve the victory. Quite an imposing idea, isn’t it? Let’s find out together if the MMO manages to measure up to our expectations.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to try the strategy part as it is mandatory to unlock your initial troop of soldiers first, which requires spending a certain amount of one of the in-game currencies (there’s a total of three). What a pity that the costs are extremely high so that you have to do some grinding if you’re not willing to spend real-world money to purchase the premium currency. We weren’t able to play test long enough to afford the sum, however, we got the chance to have a look at the enormous real time map even without actively playing. In addition to all active battles currently fought over the contested territories in the action game/ shooter part of the game, we also noticed a complex web of connections between the two factions’ different points of interests on the map. Players are able to move troops, conquer territories and help create reinforcements routes. This element of the game really appears to be pretty cool and we could hardly stand the overwhelming yearning to give it a try. But well... perhaps later on after having played the FPS part a little longer.
But now let’s go on with the true highlight of our trial of Heroes and Generals, the action game or Saving Private Ryan goes FPS. First of all, you have to decide for a faction to participate in a war campaign, with which you have to stick for the duration of that campaign. Campaigns usually go on for several weeks and when they’re over, players may again choose their faction before the next one starts. Always having a knack for slaying Nazis, we opted to side with the Allies and were then received by a really short tutorial that explained the basic controls. If you have ever played a shooter before, you would figure all that out on your own in a jiffy: WASD + mouse for moving and shooting, Shift for sprinting, mouse wheel for changing weapons. We suppose you are familiar with this. However, the tutorial also allows trying some tricks, e.g. using an antitank weapon or destroying a jeep with grenades, and grants the opportunity to taste the feeling of destroying an enemy plane with an antiaircraft turret. Really cool!
The tutorial leaving us thrilled and eager to gun down Nazis, we immediately queued for a random game without hesitating. It’s also possible, however, to manually pick the match you want to join from a list of currently available ones. The game modes typically focus on capturing enemy bases and neutral points of interest throughout the map, defending them and advancing into enemy territory.
The first impression we gathered when entering our very first match was successful the developers were in recreating the WW II atmosphere. While lots of shooters nowadays are putting emphasis on the “shooting element” of the game, neglecting the game’s atmosphere as being less important, this is absolutely not the case with Heroes and Generals. This MMO perfectly blends sounds, visuals and gameplay options to make players really feel as if they were a band of soldiers crawling over treacherous battlefields during WW II. The varied and quite enormous maps offer distinct scenarios and aspects such as ruins, narrow passages, open plains, forests and bridges crossing rivers, truly affecting the tactical options as well as the overall gameplay experience.
While the controls are generally responsive enough, they may appear slightly laggy or imprecise in specific occasions, e.g. when trying to interact with objects like vehicles or ladders, or repetitively doing short sprints. We also came across some gameplay bugs; once we were, for example, humming through a neat country road in our jeep when suddenly being thrust 300 metres into the sky out of the blue, without any reason at all, dying due to crashing onto the ground.
We truly appreciated the sense of realism the title is infusing. It’s perfectly natural to hide between rocks, in a hole on the ground or in the vegetation and there won’t flash up any names over your foe’s head when hovering your crosshair over them by chance. Light and shadow effects also contribute so that it’s absolutely possible not to see an enemy you’re passing by quite next to them, also creating the chance for ambushes. Furthermore, it generally needs a couple of hits to eliminate somebody and as the weapons are pretty precise, it’s far more effective to remain calm in cover trying to aim for an headshot at the enemy than jumping around in a "spray and pray" manner.
Another essential gameplay aspect consists in the vehicles. There are jeeps, tanks and even bikes to found throughout the initial beginner maps, each of which can be driven/ ridden and even used to take your comrades and weapons with you on the available seat. When advancing in the game, players will also unlock planes. However, we can assure that there doesn’t exist anything more hilarious than rushing into battle on an ancient bike with a friend on the carrier while ringing the bell. Incredibly fun!
Earning XP by participating in matches allows players to increase their grade and follow one of the different career paths they will unlock while the currency they are rewarded with enables them to buy new weapons and modifications that are gradually unlocked as well. There are new barrels, sights, springs, different types of ammunition and lots of other elements available to customise your weapons. However, we think all that stuff is a bit expensive – perhaps to seduce you to buy them with the premium currency – and you have to play quite some time to be afford the best modifications and more weapons.
The sound effects feature some really nice touches of class, such as the noise of shots and explosions becoming more muffled with the distance or tinkling sounds when you change your magazine.
Regarding the game’s visuals, they are sleek and enjoyable, their style matching the setting. However, they are lacking in details and appear a bit dated in comparison with other browser-based shooters such as Warface. The graphic engine used in Heroes and Generals is considerably lighter and still delivers quite impressive results considering the fact that this is a browser game. During our play sessions, we came across a few bugs, e.g. the crosshair of a sniper rifle not displayed while zooming. The title still being in open beta testing, we suppose the developers will manage to fix those before launch.
Directly playable via browser, Heroes and Generals is a very fun first-person shooter MMO, able to attract a WWII enthusiastic crowd as well as hardcore and casual players alike who are looking for a more realistic and a bit more tactic approach to the genre. The visuals are light and smooth and even if there are still a few minor bugs, the experience is completely enjoyable yet. Too bad we didn't have the opportunity to try the strategic part of the project. However, if you are a shooter fan in search of something distinct, you should give it a try.