Wargame: European Escalation Review

By – Carlin Au

Before every match, I always come up with a game plan with my buddy, Magnus. In a chat, I may tell him, “In a few minutes, the Warsaw Pact is going to attack us at Hamburger Hill. I believe they will be coming from sectors Hotel, India, and Papa. You will attempt to cut off the supply routes in Hotel, I will try to secure the hill and set up an artillery position. Our artillery bombardments will weaken forces at Hotel while you advance and push Hotel, India, and Papa. I will give you as much support as possible and will push down the hill towards Papa. After that we will try to do a pincer movement, and cut them off from supplies at India.” Of course, our plans aren’t always this simple.

No Room For Spam

Three hundred and sixty-one units. Don’t let the number scare you, it isn’t that bad. That amount includes variants of all the different unit families in the game. A single tank family, such as the Patton, can have six variants in that line. Each unit has their own advantages and disadvantages; no unit is similar unless they are on opposing sides.

That being said, there is always a way to counter something. Tanks can be destroyed by tank destroyers, tank destroyers can be destroyed by artillery, and artillery can be destroyed by tanks. Although, this wonderful circle of life doesn’t have to follow this line of succession. There’s many other things that can counter one unit. Say a tank is rolling towards your line of defense. You can charge them with infantry, launch anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), or rain death upon them with artillery. A squadron of gunships headed your way? You could take them down with infantry, AA, or artillery (yes, it does work against them). A large division of infantry charging your way? Don’t worry, let them meet a line of steel tanks. There is no “one strategy to rule them all”; with amount of units available, there is always a way to counter every type of unit. That’s what I like about this game – nothing is safe from everything.

IRISZOOM

R.U.S.E., Wargame: European Escalation’s spiritual predecessor,  relied heavily on base building as well as supply depots to gain resources and keep the fight going. However, in Wargame: European Escalation (WEE) supplies are dependent on the amount of sectors you control. Playing aggressively will give you a better advantage when you can produce more units than your enemy and out maneuver theirs. This is the advantage of playing in extremely large maps of up to 150 square kilometers; there’s a lot more space to move around the map so, because Wargame uses an updated version of the IRISZOOM engine, you can see everything on the field at once and zoom in to see your army marching across the countryside in all of its glory.

Micro

In most matches I’ve played, the team that plans the most wins. I think I’ve spent more time planning out matches than actually playing the game. I once spent two hours thinking of hypothetical situations with my buddy. There’s so many possibilities and we had to figure out how to counter each situation. But there’s always room to improvise.

While there is a lot of macro management involved with this game, there is some micro management. Although, the micro management comes in the form of positioning of units. In many cases, the way a player positions their units, will be a key factor in who wins that battle. If an enemy is able to flank around your forces and ram some tanks in your rear, your force is most likely done for.

How to Win a War For Dummies

Supplies? Check. Ammunition? Check. Gas? Check. My army should be good for the next 1,000 or 2,000 kilometers or so. Hopefully, they get that far… Those Pattons are gas guzzlers.

There’s a lot of elements in the game that can help your advancement or cripple your movement. Your teammate needs help? You have to make sure you can get to him in time. You could run out of gas or ammunition, which would surely slow you down from reaching your teammate.  If taking the roads isn’t an option, you may have to drive through forests, where tanks and armored personnel carriers (APCs) can get detracked, stuck in mud, or engine stalled. All of these things could hinder your movement towards helping your teammate out of a butt-whooping.

Keeping supply routes safe should be a priority. A common tactic by players is to attack these points because units spawn from there. Yes, it’s a lame tactic, but it’s strategically smart. It is a huge advantage to destroy assets that could be used against your forces. It essentially wastes the other team’s deployment points, which are used to create new units, and shifts their focus off of the front line. Officers in real life would attack supply lines as well. Given the chance, they probably wouldn’t hesitate. No Wargame: European Escalation player should either. In war anything is possible, and Wargame: European Escalation has done a great job of trying to bring a realistic representation of warfare during the Cold War.

P2P Networks, But Don’t Hold Your Breath

If some of you remember R.U.S.E., you probably also remember how often people would disappear from the match and suddenly the other team was down one man. You would probably feel some kind of remorse for them and send them a couple of words of pity. Secretly, there is joy inside of you knowing your chances of winning are higher.

This doesn’t happen as often in Wargame: European Escalation. I would go as far to say that having fewer players in a game is a disadvantage, mainly because the other team gains more resources and can produce more units. This would also mean that my team is too scattered since those couple of players now have a better chance of breaking through my team’s lines. Luckily, Wargame: European Escalation’s P2P network seems pretty stable and will rarely let anyone disconnect. In the matches that people have disconnected from, they have all been pretty challenging; my opponents have always been able to put up a good fight.

Singleplayer Troubles  

Normally, I finish the singleplayer portion of any game I play before hitting multiplayer, but this game’s singleplayer is just odd. I find myself struggling more with the singleplayer than playing matches in multiplayer. The difficulty oddly spikes from mission to mission. Playing a mission in the middle of one of the four campaigns can be considerably harder than completing the final mission. Other people may find the abnormal difficulty pleasant, though.

Unlike the singleplayer AI, the multiplayer version sucks; it isn’t intelligent at all actually. It’s not buggy, but the amount of mistakes it makes is pretty sad. It tends to make common newb mistakes all the time like chopper spamming and massing tanks together.

Conclusion – Is it Worth Your Money?

This game is brilliant. Wargame: European Escalation is probably one of the more complicated RTSs I have ever played. Even after a total of 84 hours of in-game time, I still haven’t figured out all the different factors that play into the way a unit performs. Around 40 hours in, I learned that units in the outer part of the forest are able to fire out it, but when units are too deep in a forest, they will only fire at point-blank range. Little factors like this can help win engagements, and there’s so much left for me to learn. I like the fact that anything can attack almost everything. It keeps me interested because I can only imagine how the enemy will react to my forces.

I do enjoy IRISZOOM, the engine Wargame: European Escalation uses. The way it allows me to see the bigger picture on the battlefield, is greatly useful. With it, I can figure where to attack and where to defend. Also, the large maps in the game are well made. The advantage of having large maps is maneuverability. There’s a ton of directions I can attack from and flank my enemy.

To me, the only couple of downsides to this game are the crappy AI and the lack of players playing this game. It gets frustrating when searching for matches leaves the player sitting in matchmaking for half an hour. It has the potential to be as competitive as other RTS games, but there just isn’t enough attention. Wargame: European Escalation has all the complexity and strategic planning people could want, but no one is around to see it.

Wargame: European Escalation Technical Summary

  • Time Played: 38 Hours
  • Widescreen Support: Yes (Detailed Report via WSGF)
  • 5.1 Audio: Yes
  • DRM: One-time Online Game Activation/5 Machine Install Limit
  • Bugs: Some units don’t rout correctly, a couple of animation and clipping issues
  • Control Scheme: Mouse and Keyboard
  • System Specs: AMD Phenom II X4 955, AMD Radeon HD 6870, 4GB of RAM
  • Game Acquisition Method: Purchased By Reviewer
  • Availability:  Steam, Focus Home Interactive’s Shop

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4 thoughts on “Wargame: European Escalation Review

  1. There was a reason I didn’t buy RUSE, and that was the lack of LAN support. Well, ok, and the crappy Ubi DRM.

    I like what I see in this game, but it has the same problem. Sorry, Eugen, you aren’t covering my gaming group needs.

  2. I like this game even though I’ve only played 3 campaign levels so far (too much other games distracting me). It’s surreal watching ATGMs flying slowly towards your tank column. That’s what you get for not sending a scout ahead.

    I’m still overwhelmed with the unit upgrade menu. Not really sure whether I should use my command points now or save it to overpower the next map. Darn RPG mentality.

    I’m sorry to say that I’m not a competitive player so no online battles for me.

    It’s still a great game

    • Yeah, absolutely love how awesome everything looks when you see the fighting up close.

      The Unit upgrade menus can be overwhelming, but if you look through them and compare their advantages and disadvantages, it’s not so bad. I would advise getting something in each category so that you have a balanced army.

      I don’t think the people playing online are too competitive. Granted, we all like winning, but I feel that most people don’t mind winning or losing. We’re all very casual about Wargame, I think. I do think that you should try the multiplayer. You’ll gain WAY more stars by playing multi player than in single player. As long as you stay out of ranked games, you’ll most likely have fun.
      Thanks for reading!

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