First impressions of the alpha of the online war game Heroes & Generals

Developed by Reto-Moto, an independent studio reformed by the founders of IO Interactive, Heroes & Generals is an online war game with multiple game modes accessible from multiple platforms. Heroes & Generals is both a strategy game and a team-based FPS game. You can play the game as the hero on the battlefield, the officer making the tactical decisions to win the battle, the general command devising the grand strategy and everything in between. Every player’s action has consequences for the war effort.

Heroes & Generals takes place in a persistent online world with other players where most of the planning and coordination with your team is done through the Generals strategy screen, which you can access from your web browser. There you can see a large number of zones, cities, airfields, and towns with intersecting lines, all of which signify a route along which you can guide your assault team and plan what areas you want to control or attack.

The strategy part of the game has two teams of generals moving assault teams around a map in realtime during wars. One side begins in London, the other in Berlin, with each side’s objective being to take the other’s capital. As a general you can create an assault team, composed of different units, and move it from a city to another in order to place it either in allied territory, on neutral terrain, or on enemy terrain. Your assault team will be composed of whatever units you've unlocked (or purchased), like squad leaders, machine gunners, or riflemen. The war is won if a team reaches one of the following victory conditions: the enemy capital has been taken, or 75% of cities have been captured, or one army is 3 times bigger that opponent’s army.

Action part of the game is the normal First Person Shooter mode where players can take part either as Heroes or Generals in multiple dangerous missions, varying from assaults to ambush and assassinations. This is actually the part we experienced in the alpha test. First of all, we can say that the gameplay is influenced by arcade elements but realistic elements are still present such as weapon ballistics and advanced vehicle armor models. FPS battles begin when one faction’s commander moves an assault team into a location held by opposition forces. The First Person Shooter part of the game allows you to capture control points on the maps in a specific order depending on your approach to the battlefield.

When you login into the game you choose which campaign you want to join and which faction you want to fight for the entire war. After that the game downloads automatically some small amount of data and you can enter into combat directly in your browser. You first choose which assault team you want to be part of, then which type of soldiers you want to be and an available spawn spot on the map. You can also choose to spawn using the reinforcement assault team as a tank commander or tank crew for instance. You can be part of a variety of assault team, including infantry, aircraft team or tank team. We played as an infantry rifleman and a machine gunner and got killed a lot of times by tanks other riflemen and unexpected sniper shots coming from nowhere.On the battlefield you move your character, aim and shoot with the mouse and the usual keyboard keys of a FPS game trying to kill opponants with different weapons and take over control points. On your way you might find cars or bicycles, and you can use them to move quikly on the map. You can also shoot from the vehicules. All weapons have shoot and reload animations and you can see the impacts of the bullets on the target. You can play in various light settings including sunset or night, for instance. Reto-Moto's own browser based 3D game engine, called Retox brings high quality graphics to the game.

During the battles you earn credits which you can use to buy characters, weapons and weapon modifiers. You can also purchase your own assault team if you wish to be combat commander.

We've seen plenty of WWII multiplayer shooters in the past years but it seems that Reto-Moto is creating a persistent, living, and attractive battlefield across 1940s Europe. By mixing in ideas from tabletop strategy games and a control and capture gametype from Battlefield series, Heroes & Generals gives players an interesting type of gameplay never seen before. As it is a free to play game you definitely should give it a try when it comes out.

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