Nival is a Russian company, focused on making strategy games, most centered around WW2, with the occasional fantasy setting exception. Blitzkrieg 3 is part of their WW2 series, a strategy game pitting three fanctions (Axis, Allies and the Russies) in somewhat-historically accurate battles against each other. Yeah, a battle did happen at that place, you just have your doubts about a German-sounding Russian serving as your Allied Forces commander.
You know it by now: Big bad Germany teams up with other countries also known for producing really weird porn and they decide to take over the world. Russians and Americans/Allies raise their guns proudly together, ready to strike at the shadow covering the land, while also making sure they have at least one bullet left so they can shoot each other in the head once it’s all over. Weirdly enough, I found very few mentions of Hitler or the actual word «Nazis» in Blitzkrieg 3. It was always «the Italians», «the Germans» and «the Tentacles».
The concept is simple: The war is divided in three different «campaigns» based on the actual historical events, all three of which have some main missions (about 5-6 each) and some optional ones. While you could technically go straight for the main missions, due to the game’s mechanics, which we will cover in a bit, it is almost mandatory to complete as many of the optional ones as possible. Before each battle you get to choose a general (changing the possible rewards of the battle) as well as reading a small text about what actually happened in that battle, before steamrolling everything with your armada of Panhard 178s in-game.
I understand that’s a weird way to say it, but Blitzkreig 3 treats one of the biggest disasters in history like one big game of Pokemon and ~strangely~ I mean that in a good way. Starting from the world map (which is actually a round 3D globe rather than a static 2/2.5 map, kudos), you get to select a mission. Instead of the missions giving you separate units to control each time, you instead gather a roster of units over-time, each with their own resource cost. The missions give you your initial resources, which you can use to deploy whichever units you see fit from your collection.
For example, say a mission gives you 200 resources. That means you could either start with 3 tanks using 40 resources each and 3 infantry squads costing 25 resources each, or you could just start with an army entirely made up of infantry, because you’ve suddenly gone mad. It’s entirely up to the player and the units he’s collected up to that point. Each mission rewards units per completed objective, so the game rather subtly forces you to complete every possible achievement in order to get the max number of units as a reward. There is no rule stating you gotta-get-them-all at once though, so you can first play a mission completing only the main objectives and then replay it, aiming for the achievements to get the rest.
In-game you will start with the units you picked earlier, in a large square map, which you can mostly traverse as you wish. Your units (they’re far from an army at the start) will usually appear at one corner of the map and various areas on the map will get pointers on them, showing where you can complete the main and optional objectives. With each objective complete you get in-game resources, which you can spend to call more of your WW2 pokemon collection on the map (usually it’s about 150 resources per objective, aka 3-4 tanks, so you gotta be careful not to waste more than 1-2 units on the objective to actually increase your team’s size).
Something really annoying and recurring is that the new units (reinforcements) you call with your new resources are summoned at the initial spawn point on the map, meaning that it will be quite a while before they actually reach the battlefield. We will get back to this in a bit, regarding the balance of units in Blitzkrieg 3.
So, enough beating around the bush, we leave that to the people criticizing Trump, lets get to the main two questions everyone has about Blitzkrieg 3:
1)Was the part about «advanced AI» bullsh!t?
-Of course it was. The AI tries to send its infantry to the nearest anti-tank weapon as soon as it sees my tanks… Right through my armada. Obviously none of them actually make it to the weapons.
2)Is it a fun game worth buying nonetheless?
-Yes, yes, it is!
The WW2 Pokemon thing might sound like a gimmick, but it translates really well in the gameplay. That said, Blitzkrieg 3 does have quite a few problems concerning the units’ balance, which we hope will be solved by the time the game is out of «Early Access».
For starters, the foot soldiers, regardless of class, are primarily useless. The game tries to force them on the player at times, by adding objectives that can only be completed by non-vehichles, as well as the mortars/anti-tank weapons/machine-gun installations that are scattered throughout the map and your soldiers can capture. The problem is, as mentioned above, that your soldiers are SLOW. Really, really slow. Obviously that’d make sense irl too, but irl said soldiers could ambush vehichles, hide and wait for them to pass by, etc. Blitzkrieg 3’s map is quite open though and it is always immediately obvious where every unit is, so the soldiers will never make it anywhere where they could prove useful.
Adding to the fact that they are spawned at the initial spawning point, means that when your main force is exchanging slaps with the enemy, you don’t have the luxury of waiting for your men to run through half the map while singing some national anthem about kicking ass and Jewing gum. That is doubled with the minefields, which aren’t triggered by vehichles but are triggered by infantry, who have to manually disable them or make the soil fertile for the next twenty years. So with one hand the game forces the use of infantry on you, with the other it slaps you for actually using them.
To get through the entire first part of the campaign, all you need is a team composed 50/50 of light vehichles and light tanks. The light vehichles with the machine guns on them will wipe any infantry and aircraft with ease, while the light tanks will get rid of everything else. Speaking about the aircraft, planes in the game are like God Powers from other strategy games. They are basically abilities and not controllable units, which you cast on specific areas and wait for bugger-all to happen since the actual collision points of the bombs are determined at random. If they were cheaper they could have been a viable solution, but as-is it much better to spend those resources on 3-4 more tanks, because you can never have enough tanks.
After discovering the «secret» to beating the game easily, aka having the «Flash beats all other heroes» vehichles in my army, including the God-sent Panhard 178s, which I wholeheartedly suggest gathering as many copies of as possible since one of them can easily solo many of the earlier missions, I started the second campaign, where the first medium tanks appeared, all with names that sounded like serial codes. That’s where I realised that the game was bullsh!tting me regarding the stats. You see, an anti-tank squad of infantry-men doesn’t stand a chance against actual tanks, since they’ll become a red spot on the ground way before reaching them, so up to that point I had decided to mostly ignore the «has advantage against» parts, as generally greater range and mobility meant auto-win, hence the light vehichles and tanks.
discussion at Nival’s offices about Blitzkrieg 3:
-Hey, do you know what the game needs more of?
-Let me guess, more ta~
It seems that the developers had caught up to that though, so the medium tanks took reduced damage from light tanks and vehichles. That is certainly understandable up to a certain degree, but one of the damned things could easily wipe 9-10 units of my armada without losing more than 20% of its health. In an earlier game one unpronounceable tank was fortified to a specific position, so with some clever positioning and 2 reloads I managed to get my entire armada of light tanks (8 of them) out of its range and shooting at it, and I swear to God it took them 5 real-time minutes of non-stop shooting to actually kill the cursed thing. Obviously I was skipping history class when they taught us that WW2 tanks were made of F@CKING VIBRANIUM.
Of course that didn’t actually mean that it was time for my anti-tank infantry to shine, as said medium tanks were usually surrounded by 10^2 anti-infantry units and 3 mortats behind them, which on their own served as canon-fodder for my armada but when combined with the hulk in front made for situations where the only solution was to quick-save the game and pray to Great Cthulhu that the air-bombings won’t miss every single vocal point after their first 20 practice shots that day.
That’s the problem with Blitzkrieg 3. It makes great first impressions thanks to its open-strategy approach and gotta-catch-them-all mechanics, but after the baby-steps it becomes obvious that the mid and late game is in dire need of a few stat nerfs. That goes without even counting how much the game gives you the middle finger as the missions progress. In a desert mission I had to capture an enemy airfield, and then defend it while facing wave after wave of enemies. At that point the game gave me an additional objective of stopping a fuel track at the other side of the map, clearly a big FU move by the developers, as sending your forces that far away (without any previous hint of that happening of course) from the base meant you’d fail the main objective AND still miss the track.
It’s the usual headscratcher that comes with Unity. The game looks beautiful, with a lot of details, but goes into lag-spikes every now and then, so you decide to turn down the graphics, but the lag-spikes are uninterrupted at interrupting you, so you just learn to live with them. Regardless, the graphics are generally eye-catching and quite practical, a complete contrast to the god-awful voice acting, which is downright laughable until you get used to it.
The (Unity-related, I’m sure) problems continue, with the management of the units themselves. First off, every vehichle has a «fortify» option, which prevents it from moving but in return drastically increases its def. Say the enemy has surrounded your fortified vehichle. It will take a few seconds after pressing the button for the vehichle to become movable again, but if in the meantime you give it ANY other commands, such as «move to this position», it will immediately forget its de-fortify command and attempt to resolve the latest command, which is impossible since it’s immobile. You can imagine how annoying that can be when you’re under pressure.
That pressure is usually the result of more crap from Blitzkrieg 3, as the enemy’s view distance is somehow completely unaffected by the fog of war that prevents your units from seeing the enemy, meaning that somehow a light car get to shoot your armored tank without your tank being able to fire back. This results in the constant need to fortify and de-fortify your units just to see the enemy, which leads to the headbang-inducing situations mentioned above. Combine that with times when your attacking units just decide they’re not interested in listening to your orders, with no apparent reason and you have a recipe for destruction.
Gameplay video by Raptor:
This might have sounded pretty harsh, but it’s pretty obvious that the majority of Blitzkrieg 3’s problems are related to it being in Early Access, which is why I’m not holding a grudge against it. Most of them can easily be fixed in a patch within the next few months, allowing a really addictive strategy game with a very open approach to its gameplay to emerge. Gamehorizon gives a tentative thumbs-up for buying it in Early Access and a much more assuring nod if you’re reading this after the game has been officially released.
- Really addictive gameplay.
- The 3D globe at the start is pretty cool.
- You can use your favorite team-builds regardless of location.
- The maps are really well designed.
- It encourages playing the optional missions without actually forcing them.
- Panhard 178.
- Great variety in available strategies.
- Great graphics.
- Units occasionally get bored of following orders.
- Horrible mid&late game balance.
- Laughable voice acting.
- "Exit game" freezes the screen.
- Badly placed achievs later on.
- Planes are mostly useless.
- Infantry is also useless.
- Lag spikes.
- Spawn points too far away.