Hi everyone! Yes, I’m back with another post for the day; this time around, though, the topic is going to be more fun than the previous one (COVID-19 and why we aren’t flattening the curve yet).
As the headline of this post says, this will be a “first look” post about a brand-new video game by the Australian-based studio Killerfish Games, which is the same company (but not the same creative team) that developed my favorite game of modern submarine warfare, Cold Waters.
The game is called War on the Sea, and it is a simulation of naval warfare during World War II. And just as Cold Waters was inspired by a MicroProse Software classic called Red Storm Rising, War on the Sea can be rightly said to be an updated version of a 1992 game, Task Force 1942: Surface Naval Action in the South Pacific, which was also published by MicroProse and developed by its in-house team of designers, MPS Labs.
Indeed, the promo material at Killerfish Games’ website acknowledges War on the Sea‘s spiritual connections to MicroProse’s game, as well as to another naval combat sim, SSI’s Great Naval Battles series.
War on the Sea puts you in command of task forces, convoys and submarines as well as tactical use of aircraft to secure the South Pacific during World War II. Heavily inspired by the classic computer games “Great Naval Battles” and “Task Force 1942″, War on the Sea is coming soon to PC and Mac.
1942: The world is at war
The Japanese Empire expands throughout the Pacific where Allied forces attempt to halt its spread. A desperate struggle for control of the Solomon Islands is now underway.
How will you protect your transports as they deliver troops and supplies in the South Pacific? Will you deploy precious aircraft carriers to provide air cover? Do you screen the area with submarines? Or attempt to lure the enemy navy into a decisive surface engagement?
Well, the game came out on Tuesday, and its available on Steam for a relatively affordable price: $39.99. Usually, some of these new military games are initially pricey (I know that Cold Waters was introduced four years ago for $59.99, and I waited until last July to get it at a lower price), but I figured that if I gave the Caregiver my share of the bill payment money early in the month, my conscience would be clear if I splurged on a new PC game.
So, what does War on the Sea bring to the table?
Again, per the Killerfish Games website:
- Real-time naval combat
- Theatrical external-view game play
- Play as Allied Forces or Imperial Japan
- Over 50 classes of playable ships
- Dynamic campaign
- Tactical control of aircraft (not a flight simulator)
- Fight fires, counter flood compartments and repair ships
- Sink ships using realistic buoyancy physics
- Historical missions based on actual naval engagements
- Historical based ships, aircraft and weapons
As you can see from the screenshots and the two trailers, War on the Sea looks absolutely gorgeous. Because one of the main designers worked on Cold Waters (the rest of that team left Killerfish Games and is working with the revived MicroProse on a game called Sea Power: Naval Combat in the Missile Age), you can see a “family resemblance” between the two games.
However, while Cold Waters delves into late 20th Century submarine warfare in a series of hypothetical Cold War-goes-Hot pitting the U.S. Navy’s “silent service” against either the Soviet Navy or the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), War on the Sea allows the player to command a task force of surface ships (either as a U.S. Navy or Imperial Japanese Navy commander), with multiple vessels (surface and subs) as well as aircraft, either in single battles based on historical engagements, or in a massive campaign in the South Pacific circa 1942-1943.
I bought my copy of War on the Sea last night and looked at one of the training scenarios (one with airplanes), but I didn’t fare too well my first time out, so I logged off without exploring it further before watching part of The Vulcan Hello, the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery and going to sleep shortly thereafter.
This afternoon, I decided to give War on the Sea another try, although this time around I chose the first Training scenario – there are, just as in Cold Waters, quite a few concepts that you have to learn before heading out to sea and play as an admiral in charge of many warships. Naturally, the first mission is about the basics – navigating a Porter-class destroyer, spotting and identifying targets, and gunnery and torpedo practice.
I spent half an hour on the first training mission; I understood the concepts involved in maneuvering my destroyer, selecting my weapons, and identifying the targets, but issuing orders was a tough proposition. I did figure out a few basics in navigation and switching between guns and torpedoes, but targeting the enemy and giving firing orders gave me a hard time. I did figure those out after 20 or so minutes of gameplay. but it was not an easy process.
As I recall, it took me a few days to get the hang of Cold Waters, even though in that game you only command one nuclear-powered sub and don’t have to worry about giving orders to other vessels or to squadrons of aircraft. I had to get used to the game’s user interface (UI); because I’ve played Red Storm Rising I understand the tactical stuff in Cold Waters; it was learning how to give commands to your crew that was the challenge.
I think it will take me a few weeks to master the UI in War on the Sea; as I said earlier, it’s a game with gorgeous visuals, but the giving-of-commands to the ships, planes, and subs is going to be a challenge. The UI is clunky and not intuitive at all, and that means that, at least for me, this game is going to be hard to master, just like MicroProse’s Task Force 1942 was for many would-be Admirals Halsey or Tanaka back in the 1990s.
Naval warfare has always fascinated me, and I’m a long-time World War II buff, so I hope that I will have the patience to go through all 13 of the Training missions and learn how to play War on the Sea. I don’t think the strategic or tactical aspects will be the hard part; what might be frustrating for me will be the giving-of-orders; as I said before, the UI is not exactly user-friendly. I don’t mind paying $39.99 for a good game if I can play it; I do, however, resent it when I buy a game that is great in theory (like Hearts of Iron IV) but not easy to play because of a UI that’s too mouse-reliant or or because you need to have a PhD in military science to understand its inner workings.
Well, Dear Reader, stay tuned. It might be well into March the next time I write about War on the Sea, but I’m going to do my utmost to learn how to play this brand new World War II naval warfare sim.