Eidos' big scale war sim Battlestations: Midway was a long, long time in the making. In some ways it lived up to the years of development promise (blowing up big boats in planes), but in others it clearly missed the mark (cough, rubbish multiplayer, cough).
Thankfully, it looks like the blokes behind the follow-up, Battlestations: Pacific, know all about the criticism aimed at the first (not least because we told them), and they promise they're paying close attention to fan feedback when plotting out their second battle plan.
We spoke to producer, Adam Lay, and studio head, Attila Soross, to find out more.
The first game took place in the Pacific theatre. What's the story and background for the follow-up?
Lay: Battlestations: Pacific will take the players to the Pacific theater of the Second World War. Playing either as the Japanese Empire or the United States, the main goal is to control and dominate the whole Pacific Ocean.
Looking at it from a chronological angle, the game takes place from the attack on Pearl in 1941 to the bloody battles of Okinawa in 1945. The content and unfolding of events in the Japanese and U.S. campaigns will vary considerably.
In the Japanese campaign, players will start from the attack on Pearl Harbor. They will experience first-hand the surprise attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor. They will get an opportunity to continue their advancement and seize important territories around the Pacific, and eventually break through the U.S. fleet and sink their carriers at Midway, changing the course of history, and resulting in their victory over the U.S.
The U.S. campaign will play very differently. Following the victory at Midway, the U.S. saw a reverse of fortunes and advanced fast towards mainland Japan, freeing key locations of the Pacific of Japanese control along the way. This is a historically accurate campaign all the way through to the end and players will be able to take part in some of the most memorable battles of WW2.
Midway had a famously long development time behind it. What did you learn from your experience working on the first game, and its reception after release?
Soross: We have learnt a lot from making Battlestations: Midway. It was an ambitious project right from the beginning. We set out to create an epic game, which blended action and strategy gameplay elements in a historically accurate context that worked both for console and PC players.
I think overall the game succeeded in delivering a unique and innovative experience, however there was also a number of areas for improvement that we have since identified and are working on addressing for Battlestations: Pacific.
For instance, improving accessibility is a key objective for us. The first game had a steep learning curve with limited assistance for the player, and this is something we want to make sure is well balanced in the next game.
We have been shaping the sequel to respond to what we have heard from the Battlestations community and learnt from the reviews. We're building on the feedback and our own hard-earned understanding of the game and we are aiming at improving the Battlestations experience both in terms of accessibility and replayability, while maintaining the fundamental unique mix of action and strategy gameplay elements, which were well-received in the first game.
We have plans for a full Japanese campaign alongside a new US campaign, which takes the players from the Battle of Midway onwards, and we hope this will provide a lasting and memorable single-player experience.