Regiments – Cold War Gone Lukewarm

The battle for the Fulda Gap is warming up with a metric ton of video games focusing on the Cold War Era coming out in 2022. Now, first things first: Regiments is still in active development, with only an open beta build available that focuses exclusively on shedding some light in their single-player, dynamic “campaign” mode called Operations.

The Operation available is called “Firebird” and put players in control of the Soviet 40th Motorized Rifle Regiment and tasks players with breaching the 2. Panzer-Division forces protecting Kirrchain airbase. Regimental commanders will have to take control of the airbase by the 8th phase and defend it for two. Each phase consists of a persistent battle map across several phases and, until all the necessary objectives are captured, it will remain the same. Once the in-map objectives are captured, players will advance to the following maps and so on until the operation is finished. Before each engagement, a certain number of “Operational Authority” Points are attributed and those can be spent by either slamming them into increasing the available deployment, supplies, engineering, and tactical support points or by reinforcing the pre-assigned regiment with specific task forces (armored, recon and command, for example). Each one of these task forces can, in turn, also be improved by spending additional Operational Authority e.g. Armored task Force Molot at level one comes equipped with meagers T-64 tanks and, by the time it reaches level three, players will be juggling around T-80s supported by BTR-70s. Other task forces will come with special perks such as tactical ground attacks and missiles barrages.

As a concept, this far from being something new or innovative, but players of the Wargame franchise have been seriously lacking any kind of meaningful single-player content since the franchise spurred into existence. So, props to Bird’s Eye Game and MicroProse for the decision of investing time, money, and resources into this. In the format operations are being designed, I would dare to say there’s some kind of replayability to be had here.

To properly assess Regiments I actually went back and played Wargame: Red Dragon with the Israel DLC, something I bought for some scenarios I wanted to do a couple months back and completely forgot about it. Yet, have in mind Wargame is now turning more than half a decade old, with WARNO arriving in Early Access just a couple of days back.

When compared directly to Wargame: Red Dragon’s dynamic campaign, I liked the more concise approach of Regiments, but the focus on a single regiment will inevitably leave out some of that sweet Wargame customization and unit variety. Even as far as the first campaign, Busan Pocket, from Wargame one can see how many more options there are to Korean commanders. Sure, Regiments compensates for it by the introduction of task forces but it takes a few turns before you have enough operational authority to start doing interesting things. This being said, I don’t necessarily think Regiments falls behind Wargame, it’s just a matter of what one might be more inclined to enjoy in that particular evening. Want a more concise, linear campaign? Go with Regiments. Feel like experimenting with a ton of units, engage across several map nods in a more “Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault” experience? Go with Wargame: Red Dragon. One thing is for certain, that the grand campaigns of Steel Division II beat both of these. So if a Second World War kick is what you’re after, SDII is the way to go.

Descend into the tactical battlespace and the differences start to become a bit more noticeable. At first, Regiments might come off as a Wish.com version of Wargame but stick with it and it might grow on you. The pace of the game is so much slower than Wargame (but not slow enough) and allows for pauses. The amount of units fighting on the ground (at least in the Operations engagements) appears to be lower than Wargames’. And while Wargame allows for single unit control, Regiments will pair up most units into squads. While it significantly reduces micromanaging, it also removes some tactical fine-tuning. Infantry and IFVs will move in unison, meaning there’s no point in worrying about drop-off points for your infantry and where to place their transports so they can 1. Not be destroyed and 2. If applicable, provide supporting fire. In Regiments, there’s no way (I could find) of choosing what weapons systems should be used, and once again it’s another example of removing micromanagement but also limiting player possibilities. This is the overarching theme with Regiments, being a more stomachable and bite-size version of Wargame. It’s a game with fantastic graphics that’s simple-ish to pick up and understand what’s going on without having to stop, go for a walk and come back. Also, units entrench themselves after staying still for a while, so there’s that too.

One thing Regiments deserve praise for is their attitude towards the unit count. Wargame sins mainly stem from the fact that it overwhelms everyone with a similar version of similar units with small details and differences (and sure, that adds to the granularity and options, but it can be quite too much and more often than not will have hardcore competitive players min-maxing their decks to the point it stops being fun for the average commander just looking for a fight). Wargame lacks any restraint and totally embraces and indulges in being an exercise in magnitude and sheer numbers. If the philosophy of “The more the better” can be praised, the same can be said for a game that says “hell to that, too much is too much” and tries to be more concise, more linear, and gives the players less room to go astray and lose themselves on sheer numbers instead of focusing on the tactical realities of the field.

One thing Regiments has that I absolutely adore is their Field of View feature being so much more forgivable than Wargame. Yes, obstacles will still obscure FoVs and thick forest lines will stop most units from being able to fire precisely but at least it won’t feel like most of my units are looking through keyholes 90% of the time and need a perfect setup before taking a shot that, from my birds-eye view seems perfectly feasible but, for some reason, a small pebble is in the way of my Abrahams tank he can’t shoot, sorry mate.

While graphics are impressive and the game plays perfectly fine, the unit animations are as stiff as a fainting goat. It’s an almost charming staple of this kind of game.

For a first impression, this has gone long enough so I want to finish this article by saying that, despite always comparing it to Wargame (because I think it’s the most logical thing to do) and Regiments usually falling somewhat by the wayside, I don’t dislike Regiments. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, what was mentioned here can be seen as both negatives and positives, depending on what you’re looking for, and with Regiments releasing nearly 5 years after Wargame, I don’t necessarily think they are competing for the same monthly budget, it’s not one or the other, at this moment, it can be both. However, it’s important to preface Regiments will be going up against some stiff competition in the following months to a year. WARNO just came out on Steam and despite suffering major critiques on its raw state (it’s Early Access), the base foundation of it seems pretty solid. Even more concerning, is the fast-approaching Broken Arrow that can dethrone both Wargame, WARNO, and Regiments when it hit digital store shelves. Had Regiments launched two years ago, it would have been a massive success, at the moment, it not only has to contend with plenty of competition but competition that had time to mature, engrain itself into the RTS community, and has started to grow roots. Despite all this, I still think Regiments is well worth your time if you’re looking for a more condensed and simple version of Wargame with updated graphics and some fancy campaign mechanics to the mix. It’s shaping up to be that perfect 7 out of 10.

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