This article is based on pre-beta game play on May 7, 2012. It does not represent the final state of the product in any form whatsoever.
Heroes & Generals is an upcoming game set in World War 2. Familiar setting? Check. The game plays both in a browser for the lobby and a 3D client for the game. Seems unusual, but familiar (*cough* Battlefield 3 *cough*). The game mixes FPS and RTS into one experience. Wait, what? You start, as mentioned, in a browser-based client, selecting a war, which is an instance of a full-scale fight between the Allies and Axis across Europe, then loading into a campaign map, where you can view the status of the war (which side owns what locations, etc).
The mixture begins to show here. Starting off with your lacking funds, you’ll have to play the soldiers sent into battle by selecting an active fight along the right side of the campaign screen and joining in, causing the FPS client to load and play out a typical timed control point-based game, where the defenders must hold their city points for about 30 minutes.
The FPS portion of the game is indicative of an aim for realism, featuring a bleak graphic style (the quality of which is still work in progress), and several features in the gunplay to reinforce their aim, including projectile dropping, single-shot firing from my rifle (being a frontline rifleman), and elaborate reloading animations simulating how a soldier would actually reload the guns. I can certainly see a finalized version of this game aiming straight at the modern military shooter sector of the market. Due to the lack of players in the particular alpha session I played, I did not have much of a chance to judge how combat works out for the game, except for getting my head shot off during one match repeatedly. While the overall tone of the game is appreciably dark and serious, one breaking item I found was the bicycle. I inexplicably started laughing as I watched the Nazi soldier pedal his bike along (complete with a tinny-sounding bell bound to the left mouse button!). Another interesting feature is the map function. Holding the M key causes your character to literally pull a map out of his pocket, complete with updated coloring based on team ownership of points throughout the map.
Each match ends with awards of credits, which can be used to create and equip a custom soldier to use in the FPS (you pay first for the custom soldier slot, running about 10,000 credits, then for each weapon you add on, each ranging from a few hundred to thousands of credits), and create your own assault teams for the RTS portion of the game, and it is expensive, asking for 65,000 credits just for the first assault team slot! Once you have a slot, you must pay at least 15,000 more credits to actually create a team, which can be varied from infantry to vehicle to air support and more.
As for the RTS portion of the game, you use the campaign window to order around your custom-made assault teams to specific locations, receiving additional benefits for influencing positive results in a battle. The catch is that the actual players of your teams are the very same players of the FPS sections. Initial play sessions simply used mostly AI-created assault teams for their test battles.
While the game is currently quite confusing to grasp, its alpha state means that it has plenty of time to refine itself, which I certainly hope it does; I feel that Heroes & Generals has definite potential going for it if the developers nail down the details just right.
Visit http://www.heroesandgenerals.com/landing/ to learn more about the game and sign up for a chance to join the alpha and beta testing phases. Thanks to Reto-Moto for inviting us to look at the game!