GDC 2012: Heroes & Generals

With Heroes & Generals, developer Reto-Moto is bringing a World War II free-to-play massive multiplayer online game (MMORPG) first person shooter to PC. Reto-Moto is probably not known in the United States.  The founders were originally part of IO Interactive, who created Hitman.

The game has been seen in video blogs, and I saw the game in alpha in my demo, but PR manager Kenneth Ellegaard Andersen really showed me the work and diligence that the company is putting into the game. The videos Reto-Moto has released online are nothing compared to what they have planned for the future of the game.

Heroes & Generals is a mixture of strategy and shooter. You can play as a general, overseeing the entire war and selecting battlefields as you attempt to conquer the entire map.  Or you can play as a soldier who is on the ground; experiencing the battle through FPS action.

Currently, Heroes & Generals features German and US factions.  Reto-Moto plans on adding more factions in the future.

Two styles

The general has an overhead area map.  On the map they can select where to start conflicts with the opposing faction.  When selecting a battle site, they have a set number of spawn slots and a kill counter.  The spawn slots show what kinds of soldiers can be deployed.  The kill counter is the amount of lives that the general has for his soldiers.  To win a battle, it’s like a conquest map where you have to zero the opposing team’s kill count.

On the alpha, Andersen showed how the general screen worked by starting a battle.  It’s currently a simple interface, but there are a many options that general can use.  Different classes of soldiers can be deployed and that can change the amount of spawn slots.  In the early demo, there is a lot of development work still to come, but the ideas he presented are very interesting for strategy fans.

For the soldier, a casual player can simply select a mission and jump into combat as one of the available classes.  Depending on what the general has deployed, you can spawn as a Half-track driver, paratrooper, or tank commander among other unreleased classes.  Andersen also said that you can create teams and clans to play with the same people.  He also said there was a German team in the closed alpha that have been working as a clan and decimating the other players.

I wasn’t able to see any player versus player gameplay, but the in-game demo showed me a lot of how the game will play.

Gritty details

The game is browser based with a downloaded plug-in.  Andersen was playing the alpha through Chrome.  Heroes & Generals will have DirectX9 and DirectX11 support.

As a free-to-play title, it costs nothing to download, but Reto-Moto will be offering a premium subscription.  You can earn money in-game while playing.  One element that I found really interesting is that individual players can upgrade their character to their specifications, but a general can also upgrade a team that is sent into battle.  Players can then choose if they want to keep their character or use the upgrade offered by the general.

Going mobile

Reto-Moto is also in development of an iOS/Android app called Heroes & Generals Mobile Command where you play as the general.  This is tied into the game, so decisions made in the app will affect the game.  They also plan on releasing other apps that could possibly control a weapon factory or a tank factory, building tanks on your device that can be deployed in game.

Andersen was very excited about the potential of the game and their closed alpha contains a lot of WWII history fans who are working with the developers on parts of the game.  He stressed that working with the community was one of the biggest interests in the development of Heroes & Generals.

From the demonstration, Heroes & Generals has a lot of potential in the free-to-play genre.  If Reto-Moto can deliver on their plans for the core game, it looks like it will be a lot of fun.  The addition of the mobile apps will really connect players to a persistent war.

Heroes & Generals is still in a closed alpha, but a closed beta is planned in the near future.

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