Video games developers Nival “Blitzkrieg 3” was announced two years ago in 2013 but has only recently been available to play in a closed alpha and is now available on Steam Early Access. It has been about a decade since Blitzkrieg 2 came out and a dozen years since the first Blitzkrieg game so most people have probably forgot about the game or have moved onto Men of War and Company of Heroes at this point. Is the game still relevant? and even more important is it a good game? This is My Scrambled Thoughts on Blitzkrieg 3.
Blitzkrieg 3 at first glance seems like a very bare game compared to a lot of Steam Early Access games. This is mostly because the main menu has very few options and selecting “Historical Battles” or “Multiplayer Campaign” launches them straight away with no further options to choose from.
(Click an image to see a larger version).
The single player historical battle mode is supposed to have historical accurate battles but it only has one at the moment and I don’t recognise it at all. It involves you basically defending your positing and anti-aircraft guns from waves of attacks from planes, tanks and men while also trying to counter attack and make some land gains yourself. It can be pretty hard if you don’t know what you are doing and doesn’t have any difficulty settings but once you know more about the game you will be able to handle it better. The developers have said that this level is supposed to show what the single player campaign will be like but this level isn’t very long, has no voice acting, no cut scenes or anything like that. It comes of as very proof of concept than making you wanting to play more and is something you would likely see in a very early free demo. It is alpha after all so these things can be partially ignored but still doesn’t leave a great first impression.
The main content in Blitzkrieg 3 is the free-to-play type multiplayer mode. If you have played any phone or tablet game in the last few years it’s concept and gameplay is nearly identical. You start by choosing a side with no help in what they are good at or bad at (this can’t be undone). I chose the Germans as I enjoy playing with them in Company of Heroes and their side select screen looks the most interesting. Once you have done that a badly written tutorial that takes you through how the mode works, how to buy units, how to fight and so on. I won’t go into all the details of it as the game does a mostly good job of showing how to play. Once you have passed all the tutorials you will have upgraded a lot of your buildings, units and moved to a new map and this is when it really dawns on you that it is like a lot of mobile games and not a new take on it – the battles are asynchronous and there is a lot of time wasting. While before you were fighting the computer now you are fighting players that are controlled by the computer but they don’t have a very complex AI so will only attack you when near them and retreat to their original positions afterwards, it’s very poor.
All you can seem to do in this mode is attack other players bases, there doesn’t seem to be a way to actually do a one vs. one battle or even fight the computer in a normal battle either. Also don’t expect to see co-op or skirmish type modes there isn’t any at the moment but is being looked at by the developers. While I am not really a big fan of playing multiplayer with random people online and prefer to play against the AI or with friends you would think I prefer it this way – that is true but the lack of proper multiplayer options seem really odd in a franchise that as always allowed you to play with others. This multiplayer mode does offer quite a lot of content but it really is down to how much you like these type of games which means enjoying earning stuff really slowly and having big breaks in between sessions. If you like to go straight to shooting at little men with other little men you will find the various hurdles required to set up an interesting battle frustrating.
There are four major problems with the multiplayer campaign in that a few important mechanics are not mentioned. Firstly you can only can attack players a limited amount of times which afterwards seems like you have to wait a while for it to recharge (I may be wrong on this). Secondary there is a time limit in battles that means you can lose if you take too long and is a counter tactical mechanic. Thirdly there is not a way to know how strong an opponent is, you could be fighting a very easy low level player or a very high level player, the game doesn’t tell you this and this means the game seems very unbalanced. Fourthly you gain resources and fuel slowly while you are playing and when you aren’t as well but again the game doesn’t tell you this. This resource management is a key factor that makes it like a lot of free-to-play mobile game as this mechanic is what stops you progressing and because there isn’t any way of buying more resources, you are left to wait around in a game you already spent money on or fight unbalanced battles against the AI. It is a really bizarre anomaly of a game as it doesn’t seem know what it wants to be.
Blitzkrieg 1 and Blitzkrieg 2 are some great early examples of good real-time strategy games but while Blitzkrieg 3 looks and plays quite similar to these games the whole focus is completely different. Instead of the usual campaign and optional multiplayer modes – at the moment it is primary focused on providing a free-to-play experience that costs £22.99. While if they only just released the game as a free-to-play on Early Access with additional micro transactions people probably would have complained about it – this however somehow comes of as worse. At least with free-to-play games you can try before spending any money, here you need to spend at least £22.99 to see if you like it. The promise of more features and missions should help with this but at the moment the game is a free-to-play game with an upfront cost but with no micro transactions which will likely be added in the future anyway.
For a game that is supposed to be a real-time strategy game it isn’t that fun to play. This is because there isn’t much tactics that can be employed, for example units have maybe one or none special abilities and they use equipment like grenades and rockets by themselves anyway. This lowers the micromanagement but it means you don’t feel involved in the game. You can use cover and smoke to hide/protect units and your army will suffer certain conditions such as being stunned but these can’t be triggered and can happen to you whenever. I ended up playing the game by selecting all units and rushing (Blitzkrieg) the enemy, 50% of the time this would lead to victory. If you compare Blitzkrieg 3 to Men of War and Company of Heroes it really does look ancient in comparison. You need to have more control over a unit to make you actually care about them, Blitzkrieg 3 doesn’t offer this or even offer much in way of historical accuracy for example machine guns nest can rip apart tanks.
Overall Blitzkrieg 3 mostly plays and looks like you remember the Blitzkrieg games to be but it currently doesn’t have the same hold that these games once did. The game is clearly in its early stages but even so you can buy the game for quite a lot of money and what it offers is clearly not worth it. It needs more modes, levels and content to be worth the asking price and to not be focused on base defence/attacking. However if you enjoy World War II, building bases and attacking and defending your own there really are worse but cheaper games of these types out there. If your are not sure I would recommend people wait and see what the games is like in a few months/years time. It will be much clearer then what the developers Nival want to do with their once beloved Blitzkrieg franchise.
Note: This piece was originally written on the 7th May and since then Nival have announced some changes coming to the game which addresses some of the issues I found with it such as actual multiplayer (one vs. one) but so far no changes have been made to the game and these planned changes have no release date. Even when these new planned additions are added my thoughts on the game will stay the same because the core aspects that are wrong with the game will still be present.
My Other Scrambled Thoughts: