Steel Division: Normandy 44 Second Wave & Back to Hell DLC
Eugen Systems/Paradox Interactive
As a child I remember drawing scenes of battles. I’d have tanks and little stick men with helmets on pointed towards each other with little broken lines that indicated “pew pew” weapons’ fire. When I got a little older I got my mitts on army figurines. I’d set them up against one another and play immense battles which would last all day and as much of the evening as I could, before bedtime.
Needless to say, when Company of Heroes (not its sequel so much) came along, I was all over it. However, a gaming friend (and war-buff) kept insisting that I invest in Eugen System’s Wargame series. Eventually I tried out Wargame: Airland Battle and although it was a little hard to take all in at first, it eventually grew on me.
Although I loved the Wargame series, Eugen seemed to grow a little tired of their modern war franchise and so stepped back in time to do a World War 2 game. Steel Division: Normandy 44 debuted in May of 2017 to pretty good reviews, accruing an 83% on Metacritic. But for some odd reason, its player count has been steadily decreasing to where it’s been hard for me to even find an online game to play against others.
Well, Eugen has been doing anything but sitting back—in fact, they’ve been busy plugging away at their little baby and releasing patch after patch and update after update. They’ll also released a pair of DLC packs that have been nothing short of spectacular, and really add a lot of content to the base game.
First up (no pun intended) is Second Wave, which bring 4 new divisions to the table (or battlefield if you will) : The American 4th Armored, the British Commando Brigade, the 9. Panzerdivision and the 16.Luftwaffe. What I like about these new divisions is that they are highly balanced, unique, and fun, and each one brings something totally unique (and kind of crazy) to the table.
We’ve got the Commando Brigade’s off map rocket artillery that can deny huge areas of the map to the enemy for long periods of time. I just love Georgie’s Boys’ CAS Maurader that has no bombs, but enough machine guns and durability to make infantry fear for their lives in phase A. I also cracked up at 16. Luftlande’s huge arsenal of comically slow French tanks, and Schnelle Division’s comically large amount of flame weapons that they have access to as early as Phase A.
Each division also remains within the perfect spot of not being too over-powered or under-powered, while possessing significant strengths and weaknesses. The income given to each division is also very deliberate and further differentiates them from the 18 divisions already present in the vanilla game. For example the Commando Brigade’s boosted phase A and C income but dismal phase B income in which only a small amount of unit cards even exist for the division. This means that you effectively have to make one plan for both phases A and B with mainly phase A cards.
Second Wave also delivers a serious AI upgrade. The AI will now use planes in a realistic manner comparable to human players, and are much more engaging opponents in general.
Next up is Steel Division’s second and most recent DLC, Back to Hell. As with Second Wave, Back to Hell offers a good amount of multiplayer content, but also brings a whole host of goodies for those who have been yearning for single-player content as well.
The new missions are very well thought out, and the new divisions have somehow managed to stand out yet again. The missions give you your choice of pre-set, fully historical battlegroups and can be played in any combination of player and computer. I also noticed that they’ve improved the AI again as well, and has clearly been custom programmed.
A total of two armored and two infantry divisions were added. Some of the outstanding ones so far is the French Demi-Brigade SAS with its mix of stolen German and French kits, British equipped French commandos, and American armored vehicles. Another fun division is the Festung Gross Paris which is also a mixed force. The Festung has Dewoitine fighters, Russian Infantry (complete with PPSHs), French tanks, German Tigers, elderly Germans, and other crazy stuff.
With my twenty or so hours of game experience with both DLC so far, I’d say that Eugen has finally hit the sweet spot between things that they needed retain and balance out more, and adding addition flavor for those who have already been playing for a while. I’m glad to see that all of this fun new content has a good chance at lengthening Steel Division: Normandy 44’s longevity.
SCORE: Second Wave: 82%/Back to Hell: 86% = 84% average.
Steel Division: Normandy 44 features outstanding graphics that make its warfare gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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