Matrix Games recently announced their 2021 line-up of upcoming games. One of the most anticipated of these is the War in the East 2, which continues the series started by the original War in the East, and the subsequent War in the West.
A lot changed between War in the East and War in the West. Most of these changes had to do with the air war, logistics and naval functionality. The latter is not really something that War in the East 2 will concentrate on, but the air war and the logistical difficulties are an entirely different thing.
Before we go fully into the expected details, let’s have a quick look at promised changes:
A logistical system that drills down to a completely new level of detail.
A completely new map, more detail, editable, hex-specific.
A new weather system with less abstraction.
A revamped combat system that focuses on preparation.
Theather boxes to add in a new strategic layer.
New industrial model for simulating the economy.
Logistics aren’t for amateurs
This is probably the biggest change of what’s to come. In the original game supply was just a matter of not having your units surrounded or cut-off. War in the West added more complexity to this, but WitE 2 really goes into the details. One of the reasons for this is the simple fact that today we have better computers, which are finally able to calculate the things the team behind the game has envisioned since day one.
The new system is based on depots, rail lines, double rail lines, trucks, different road levels, and a ton of calculations. If you were to sit down and try to figure things out you’d never get to the next turn, but luckily that’s not what you’re supposed to do. The whole thing can be automated, or you can simply decide where to build your depots, and use your HQs to maximise supply flow to units. It will probably be the most complex model you’ll find on any war game. The goods news is that a system that isn’t abstracted to insignificance will remove a lot of other problems, such as steamrolling with doom stacks.
Advances in industry and economy
There’s not all that much information on the industry and economic changes yet. For sure, you are not going to be expanding factories and harvesting resources like in RTS games. What the system focuses instead is simulating the historical economy, accounting for in-game changes, and making sure that the economy scales and adapts to what is happening.
All the equipment, for infantry squads to the weapons they use, to different aircraft models and their bombs, as well as the tanks and the chassis they are produced on are meticulously documented. This info is used to determine what will be produced, what it will cost, and how it relates to your current force setup.
Dynamic changes mean that what will be produced depends on what you need and what you have. Unit OOBs and TOEs are a big part of this, as they also determine what sort of equipment the unit can have, and what it can be replaced with. The big change to WitE is that everything isn’t as hard-coded as before.
Map updates and theatre boxes
Some twenty years ago when the first game was published the map was hand-painted and hard-coded. This meant that you couldn’t really expect any changes, and you certainly couldn’t make changes in the game. Everything was set in stone. Now, you could of course change the data and such, but that wouldn’t change the look of the map.
This is something that has been changed for WitE 2, with the map generated from data. It doesn’t yet look as good, as we can tell from the screenshots so far, but that’s something that WitE modders can easily change. Other changes include regions and areas, which will help the logistical system as well as the AI.
And if you look carefully, you can probably notice that this might allow the map to be updated to cover the whole European Theatre of Operations in the future…but we might need to wait another ten or twenty years for that.
One addition that you’ll notice sooner or later are the theatre boxes. These are used to simulate areas outside the maps, such as the Western Front, The Finnish front, or Soviet and Axis Reserves. Their full functionality is not yet clear, but they might allow for some surprises as the war progresses.
We also know that the weather system ties to all this, and it’s no longer going to be just three settings for all of the map. Instead, you’ll be seeing weather fronts advancing across the map. It’s an extra layer you’ll need to keep an eye on.
Prepare for combat – WitE 2 combat model
This is definitely one of the bigger changes, together with the logistics. We’re not going to in detail with the actual calculations, which no doubt have been vastly improved from before. Let’s take a look at the big change instead: preparation.
How this new feature works is by simply allowing better combat capabilities for units that have been resting, and thus preparing for attack. It’s no longer just about clicking and right-clicking, forever moving forward. You need to keep your units rested, and you need to keep them where you are planning to make your next big push. Unit with high preparation points have better offensive power, and have an easier time moving through enemy territory.
Air warfare will take the advances brought in by War in the West. It’s not about airbases and simple attacks any more. Instead, you assign units to operational groups, build airfields, and make sure those are supplied. The missions are flown through a somewhat complex interface, which requires allocating units to missions all over the map. Luckily, all of this can be automated.
This will no doubt make the game a bit more complex, meaning that it won’t be quite the beer & pretzels game that some might expect. On the other hand, there are a lot of tools added that will make it easier to control thousands of units across and entire front. The scale and scope is something you won’t run into on any other game. Luckily, the AI does offer a lot of help in managing all this added realism.
What else can we say, other than that this is a game that any grognard, wargamer, strategist and WW2 enthusiast will celebrate for years to come. War in the East 2 gets rid of all the abstractions that have plagued wargames, and comes up with a system that will define wargaming for years to come. Hopefully, we’ll see the full release soon, and can then start waiting for the game that will cover all of World War 2 in the same detail.