Mar 26, 2009

So what is Battleground Europe?

MMOG Comparison MapBattleground Europe is a little known MMOG from Cornered Rat Software, Battleground Europe pits you against hundreds of other dedicated players who fight in a single arena across northern France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.  The game has a multitude of distinctive WWII era equipment, from the Luger to the Enfield, the Sherman tank to the Tiger and Focker Wulf 190 to the distinctive Spitfire.

Battleground Europe boasts the largest game map of any game without zone lines, this allows a pilot to jump a plane in England and fly all the way too Germany, drop some bombs, turn around and fly back.

The game itself is played in campaign mode, campaigns can last as long as 80 days real time, it is a continually moving game, where people play it all around the world right around the clock.

Stug 3G missing a trackEach campaign starts with the basic 1939 equipment.  Not all equipment is modelled from the war, but there are enough pieces to keep any enthusiast happy.  This equipment is divided up into brigades of infantry, or armour.  These brigades are then placed on the map by the developers at the start of the campaign and when spawning is turned on, players can choose any equipment that are available (rank permitting) and drive, run or fly it where they want.

Formation Flying in Battleground EuropeThe objective of the game is to own the map to approximately 95%, with over ~600 towns/cities on the map, you have a lot of flag capturing to get through and battles over towns can last upwards of 6 to 7 hours real time, depending on how well people defend or attack.

At the granular level, Battleground Europe delivers a game where flag capturing will advance your army.  Within each town there are a number of flag buildings that need to be captured spread out across the city, from as many as 30 flags to as little as 4 flags in smaller villages.  Once all flags have been captured your side will then own the town.  Flags are located at spawning depots and Army Bases.  They can also be located at City objects like a city hall, a station or a warehouse of importance to the war effort.  There are also Docks and Airbases where flags need to be captured, making cities and towns with airfields incredibly difficult to capture due to either a large expanse to cover or heavy fighter/bomber cover across the city.

Once a town is captured this would generally signal the end of the game.  However, Battleground Europe has a strategic level that other games lack.  Once a town has been captured the High Command then take over and start moving Brigades around to advance the army across the map.

There are two High Commands, Allies and Axis.  Each side has its own Command structure from Commander in Chief (CinC), to Colonel.  As a player of Battleground Europe, you can join the High Command after a set time playing the game, you will be given certain tools that allow you to make the strategic decisions for your fellow players.  Being a part of the High Command structure is not to be taken lightly, your roll as a commanding officer can be make or break on your sides morale and potentially you could lose the war through a seemingly innocuous decision days earlier in the campaign.

If you’re not in the High Command you shouldn’t worry about the strategic level to start with, get down to putting your enemy face first in the dirt or blowing the top off his tank with whatever you have at hand.

Battleground Europe Damage Model ExampleBattleground Europe prides itself on the physics of the game engine and it’s like nothing you may have experienced in any other game.

On the left you will see a damage model example of a Char B1 BIS being hit from the right hand side by an HE/AP shell.  The lines projecting from the tank are representative of how the shell that was fired enters the tank.

Each model is built up of many different rectangles, each of them representing a part of the vehicle, right down to where the vehicle operators would sit/stand within the tank.

The redder the rectangle on the tank the more susceptible to destruction the item is.  As an example, at the top of this tank you will see 2 red rectangles where the tank tracks are located.  A direct hit to either one of those with AP (Armour Piercing) or HE (High Explosive), would knock off the track and disable the tank.  To the rear of the tank you can see the fuel tanks, back left.

Of course it’s not that easy to knock out a tank.  Each part of the tank has the equivalent armour thickness at each point of the tank including the angle of the armour at that point that is equivalent to the real machine back in the 1940′s, making your shots count is important and not just being able to hit the tank, but knowing where to hit the tank is also important.  Tanks don’t have hit points, so firing as many rounds of ammo at a tank won’t make it explode.

Of course the ground isn’t the only domain of this game.  CRS originally came from the game Warbirds.  As prominent fliers you can guess that the air game is an important part of the game and having friendly air over town when you are capturing it is important.

Paratroopers floating down over a townAbout 3 years ago CRS introduced Paratroopers in their Christmas present to the players and the introduction heralded a new era of Z-axis gaming for Battleground Europe’s faithful players.

What this did was add another dimension to the game players could suddenly group up and arrive pretty much all at once and overwhelm a town and with coordination between the players on the ground and players in the air was to be a major factor for many months.

Battleground Europe has a good chance of increasing its stature in the coming months.  They’re about to release a licensed version into China, something that has been in the pipes for over 12 months now.   With increased revenue from the license the players hope that they pump the money back into the game and hire some much needed development talent to help the guys who are there at the moment.

The game is currently on cusp of version 1.30, a version that is earmarked as a stepping stone to delivering improved FPS and improved gaming enjoyment.  With new planes and retexturing of large swathes of the game, fan boys all over the forums are fingers crossed that this will be a great step forward.


  • Tried WWII Online…ran around for ages but could find no-one to shoot hehe.

  • That has always been a problem for new players to the game. It's a bit of a cliché with Battleground Europe when you say to a new player that the learning curve is huge in the game.

    The UI doesn't really help you find a battle very easily, you have to rely on other people to guide you to the action by monitoring the chat channels and knowing the short hand messages that the veterans post.

    The other main hurdle for new players is actually spotting the enemy, your enemy doesn't come with a marker over his head, neither do you get radar for your enemies, making the game intriguing, a new player once described the game as international hide and seek, he still plays afaik.

    One of the best things that you can do is actually join a squad, many of them will guide you, even take you out into a field and teach you the intricacies of the game because they as well as the developers, a FNG is worth trying to keep hold of because they've already taken the hardest step that is to see past the graphics and download the game.

    This YouTube video really does epitomise the game, it's a parody of a Monty Python sketch.

  • I might give it another go when my Darkfall travels come to an end. :)

  • Lots of green players about at the moment as there is a competition to get your face into the game as one of the infantry faces, so everyone is signing up their friends and family trying to get in on the action :)

  • If you "couldn't find anyone to fight" you must have either played the game before they took supply out of the towns and gave it to the brigades (when people could spawn anywhere in the world and there were no brigades to spawn from) … which was years ago now … or you somehow went to the prom but couldn't find any girls but there were plenty of girls there. It's almost impossible not to find action with the way the game is set up these days.

  • Blakadda, I think you have to look at the "couldn't find anyone to fight"-comment, as coming from a first-time player. Chances are that a new player only ever tried some of the ordinary multiplayer shooters out there, and therefore are used to be placed on top of the action from the get go.

    As a new player I can surely say that it IS hard to find anyone to kill, simply because you have to know the UI and a few gameconcepts before you are able to find battle. Any new player not familiar with these things will probably not find anyone to kill at first…I know I didnt! I've been playing for a week now, and I no longer have any trouble finding action as I now know what to click, what to look for, where to go and how to get there. All very crucial concepts to "getting into the game".

    These days people most people want instant participation (I'm one of those), so just downloading the trial and booting up will probably make many a new player uninstall after 2 hours of feeling lost and alone. This is probably one of WWII:BE's larger obstacles in attracting new players, but that is just the way it is. And probably why Cornered Rat has implemented trainers and such social initiatives.

    This game has better chances of getting a subscriber when it comes recommended either by friends or by ones favourite gaming media :)

    And on a totally unrelated note: I friggin' love Blackadder! :D

  • Finding action wasn't my problem with the game…I was able to spawn in and get killed VERY quickly everytime ;) . Unfortunately for me, my problem with the game is just its general roughness, 'klunky-ness'. The graphics aren't great, but that's excusable in my book – my problem is that it just doesn't feel good to play. You deploy an MG in a windowsill and you look straight into a wall, you fire a burst from your AA gun and sometimes there's sound and sometimes not, you get killed and you have no idea who got you killed you or how or where they were, you're driving or flying and your gauges flicker in your cockpit incessantly, you kill someone and have no idea whether or not you got them. It's just too damn unpolished in it's current state. It's too bad they can't just take the mechanics of a game like COD and bring it into this game.

    And that's really a shame since I really, really wanted to like this game. I think a good, well-polished MMOFPS a la Battlefield 2 with 1000s of players in a huge area would be a massive hit. I can't believe a major game studio hasn't given it a go yet…

  • I actually am glad that it isn't like CoD or Battlefield. At least you need a bit more skill to play Battleground Europe well.

    The getting killed and not knowing where the killer was isn't a problem at all. Why should you know where your killer shot from? If he or she is out of sight why would you be told where they were?

    Also a game with the graphics of Battlefield 2 would not work on the scale of BE, very few machines if any could handle miles of terrain with high graphic detail.

    I like BE because it isn't Battlefield 2 or CoD, the FPS players who enjoy games like that often don't have the attention span for a game like BE. I've played those games and always stop due to the playerbase. Can't see me ever going back to anything like that. They would just turn BE into into a mass run or camp fest.

  • I hear ya, it's just damn hard to get started in a game where there are people with 8 years experience already playing that just slaughter you right and left. That and there's so much extraneous stuff in this game that makes it hard to get into. A little streamlining of the interface and action would go a long way. That's what was great about BF2…it was polished enough that you could play and not have immersion broken for the length of the battle. I suppose depth is another issue…

    And what is skill? The ability to know a piece of software (and that's what this is…it is definitely not a game) well enough to own newbies that haven't figured out all the best spots to camp out and rain down death with the best equipment? Plus, have a posse of squadmates to do it with? I mean, if you're new to this game, not even being fast and accurate with your mouse can save you…you die without even seeing an enemy 90+% of the time.

    I get your point about not knowing where the shot came from…but at least tell me how I died. It's just like I'll be creeping through the brush and all of a sudden the screen just goes black. No sounds, no explosion, no popup, no information. I never have even a clue regarding what weapon killed me. Not only that, but you fire at someone and don't even know if you killed them.

    I'll have to give this software another try in a few more years. It really has potential, but I said the same thing the first time I played it in 2001.

  • I can't see you liking BE at any time based on your comments to be honest, it's a game some people simply won't like.

    The getting shot without hearing a sound, most of the time I hear a gun go off when I die, or some sound related to my death. In a heated battle you won't hear your killer's weapon as there is too much going on.

    As for firing at someone and not knowing if you killed them, I like that part. It works both ways in BE combat, if someone shoots you and isn't sure if your dead then they will often wait to see if there is any movement from you. If you shoot someone then rather than get a "you killed player" message you have to watch for movement, it adds excitement to the game and keeps you on the edge more than other games.

    As far as camping, it's not something I do, I prefer to be on the move even if slowly. When defending you might camp but that's a part of defending an objective, as it should be in battles.

    The best equipment doesn't always mean the best results either. I've achieved my highest number of kills in one sortie with a Rifle, in fact the 3 highest number killed per sortie have all been with a Rifle as my main weapon.

    There is no doubt BE is a game and many people enjoy it. If you don't like games with a step learning curve then it's not for you. BE takes work, when I started I was often shot without having a clue where the bullet came from. Now that still happens sometimes, but I accept that in a battle you would not always know that, though I'm much better at spotting the enemy now than I was in my first few weeks.

    If you read Ffaff's post you will see how hard it is to get used to air combat and flying in general, but Ffaff is persevering. I too need a lot of practice with that part of the game, as I did and still do with sappers. I downloaded a sapper guide to learn where to hit the tanks to blow them, even then I had to learn to spot the tanks from the guide, which is harder than it sounds. I can now set tanks aflame usually with a single charge, this is what's great about BE. You gain more satisfaction from working to become good at something than instant gratification.

    If you have patience and like a challenge rather than having a game where reactions alone determine how good you are, then BE is worth giving a try. If you can accept that you won't be good right from the start and it will take time and effort to learn the game, then BE is for you.

  • I very much agree with Yetian in his last comment. This game doesn't ONLY need you to react fast or have the motor-skills to put you gunsight exactly on the head of an enemy. It also demands that you are able to react to your visual and auditive surroundings and predict what might happen in your current situation, especially based on the info you get from your fellow soldiers, mission leaders or high command.

    IN MY OPINION the most important trait to get into this game is to be able to die and lose without getting frustrated. I meet a LOT of players in every multiplayer game I play, who have a VERY VERY VERY hard time dealing with dieing and losing, and WWIIO:BE is not for these players. Uber 8-year-veteran-infantry-experts in this game die every day, because some enemy soldier was lying very still covered by a bush. The guy might never be able to know where the shot came from, but an experienced player might analyse the situation and deduct a possible position of the shooter…without ever being 100% sure.

    Graphical glitches, hitching, blinking, faulty collision detection and such is part of most games out there, especially MMO games. I've tried games with so faulty graphics I simply couldn't play them, and I've tried games where I just got numb towards the faults, because the rest was so great. I choose to believe that some of the bugs in WWII:BE still are there because the time to correct them, was used at something more important, like balancing and such. Ofcourse it's a balance in itself to choose which parts of an MMO to better, and although I've seen quite some negative comments towards CRS's priorities and implementations, I personally still find the game fun :)

    Last thing: I need to mention that I am the most unlikely person to play this game….I like great graphics and fast action above all, but this game gives me something I am not yet quite sure what is. Perhaps it's just that I've never tried a game like this before. It LOOKS like a game I've tried millions of times before, but it really isn't. One thing for sure is that to me, the immersion-factor of this game is very strong. :)

  • The game has potential but it is ruined by DOC insulting players……

  • worst f2p option , community isnt that good if you criticize, bad graphics , lag.

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