There is a whole lot of RTS games out there, but It's not that simple to find a good RTS game, one that actually makes you feel you're in charge, and that everything that happens on-screen is because of your abilities... or the lack thereof. Only a couple years ago, Steel Division: Normandy 44 left us all open-mouthed, and now Eugen Systems is upping the ante with Steel Division 2, a game that not only offers everything the original game had but also a few new game modes to keep you busy. Based on WWII, this is a game that every RTS fan must try, and one that really strives to stay as close to real-life war as possible.
What to Expect
If this is your first time playing a real-time strategy game, maybe you'll have quite a hard time trying to figure out what to do and when to do it. Steel Division 2 is not a newbie-friendly experience so trust us when we say only hardcore players will get the best out of it, but at the same time, don't be shy and just arm yourself in patience until you start feeling more comfortable and actually understand the game mechanics.
Thanks to its true-to-life approach, you have a lot of units to take care of and planning/deploying a strategy is essential. However, Steel Division 2, as overwhelming as it can be, is an extremely rewarding experience both when playing solo or against another human.
Even if Steel Division 2 has its flaws, there's almost nothing bad to say about the graphics. In the heat of the moment, using the overhead view to keep an eye on how all the units move on the map is extremely tempting, but when you start zooming up and all the icons start transforming into actual vehicles and soldiers, with bullets and explosions all over the place, that's when you start appreciating the game's graphics. The game menus are as unintrusive as they can be, but ironically, some models are as detailed that you may think this is not a game but a showcase of WWII vehicles and weapons. Tired of simplistic graphics in games that only focus on the gameplay? Try Steel Division 2!
The music in Steel Division 2 is nothing otherworldly, but no one can say that's actually a bad thing. In this kind of game, sometimes you're so focused that you even forget that there's a song playing while you try to defend yourself or capture your enemy's base, so there's no point in overkilling it by adding a distracting soundtrack. To compensate that, all sound effects are correctly integrated into the gameplay, making all battles stand out as you get closer.
If you like random battles against the CPU, you can go for a Solo battle and test yourself. Every Solo battle, in fact, allows up to 4 battlegroups per side (unless you pick historical battles) with 5 difficulty levels, so you can either go for an even 1v1, a pleasant 4v1 on very easy... or an intimidating 1v4 on very hard if you fancy a real challenge. As for the game modes, you can try a Conquest battle in both close quarters or a wider portion of the map, but there's also the attractive Breakthrough mode. In Breakthrough mode, the objective is not to capture a zone but to defend your position while the other team tries to, well, break through your defenses.
Obviously, you can also play online against people from all over the world, but that's when we need to mention how unforgiving Steel Division 2 is for new players. Most of Steel Division 2's mechanics are not explained in-game, and the few tutorials you can find are not as comprehensive as they should, so playing against people who actually know what they're doing is not recommended for newcomers or those who just can't stand losing. However, you learn by playing and experimenting, and so every little thing you discover and put in practice feels like a personal victory, making you feel accomplished and proud of yourself even if you end up losing the game. When should I invest my points and bring new units to the map? Should I go all in or just hold back and wait for my chance? Is it OK to summon dozens of low-rank units, or can I manage to the next round and invest in a better option? The best part of Steel Division 2 is that there's no wrong answer! Micromanagement is highly encouraged though, as it is the line that separates an arcade game from a hardcore RTS like Steel Division 2.
One of the novelties of this game is a new Campaign system, but we have left it for the end because it's the least fun of Steel Division 2. Army General mode gives you 4 real scenarios taking place on June and July 1944, but the gameplay is very different from the other Solo modes. This looks like a really complex board game where you take turns to move your units around the map, engaging in battle here and there while always trying to outwit the opposition General. Sounds cool, right? The problem is that being zero intuitive, without clear instructions on how to play, and with awfully weird pacing, Army General feels like an awesome idea that ended up very poorly implemented. In fact, this is where you may encounter the most bugs too.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
All in all, Steel Division 2 is an excellent upgraded version of Steel Division: Normandy 44, but it fails every time it tries to innovate. We recommend it for all of you who love RTS games, but at the same time, we hope all its flaws can be taken care of soon to attract even more players to the genre. As for now, you can't play Steel Division 2 without feeling frustrated at some point, but you can definitely enjoy every battle if you go with the right mentality!
A wonderful challenge for hardcore RTS gamers.
In a genre that’s more about what’s happening and less about how it all looks, Steel Division 2 has enviable graphics.
Without a useful tutorial or comprehensive in-game manual, a whole lot of things can go under your radar.
For a new mode, Army General leaves much to be desired.
Honey's Final Verdict:
And this is how our review ends! We’ve been playing Steel Division 2 for hours upon hours, so we truly hope you can jump into it, learn everything about it the hard way, and then understand what's so charming about this imperfect game. But hey, have you been playing it? What are your impressions? Remember you can leave us a comment!
Author: Rod Locksley
Hey! I'm Rod, and when I'm not watching anime or playing video games I'm probably writing about them, but I'm also a graphic and web designer, and I even published a comic book and worked like 4 years for a well-known MMORPG. Curiously, my favorite series are quite different from each other, so I'm still trying to understand what I really like in an anime...