With the early weeks of 2023 being drier than the boot of an Afrika Korp infantryman, it’s hard to put together a proper list of the best news around. But a new bit of information here and a snippet of a new game there should be enough to satiate empty stomachs.
A Second Front Is Opening Next Week
Second Front is so close to its release date that one can almost smell the stench of burning diesel from wrecked Panzers. Microprose and Jo Bader were nice enough to gift me a copy of the game a couple of weeks prior to its release, and while I have my reservations about some of the design decisions, Second Front is trying hard to impress, and it’s mostly succeeding. I won’t be able to trudge through all of its content prior to its release, much less what’s already available at the Steam Workshop, but that won’t stop a review from being typed out during the following days. It will be out on the 31st.
WDS 2022 Massive Bogaloo
Wargame Design Studio, the team that took up the mantle of the late John Tiller shared with its community the numbers of the last year and these were, to say the least, quite impressive. Their orders were up by 84% (even though they attributed this huge increase “to the volume of free demo downloads”. The website visitations were up by 49% when compared to December of 2021 and 68% of its customers were returning to buy more than one game every year, an impressive retention rate- 15% of its customers had never acquired a WDS game before, with 25% of these going for the venerable Panzer Campaigns Series, followed up by Civil War Battles with 18% and Napoleonic Battles lining in toe with 15%.
Xenonauts 2 Out This Year
The first release of this lesser-known cousin of XCOM came out all the way back in 2014 after a successful Kickstarter campaign that promised to take the alien slaughter fest back to its roots. Xenonauts saw mild success as a sleeper hit, especially when compared with the 2011 Firaxis genial entry. Since then, the team has been working on its sequel, rising their heads to let everyone know things are coming along. Nine years later, Hooded Horse, the publisher behind Xenonauts 2 has confirmed the game is releasing sometime this year.
Steam Base Building Fest
Base-building games have been pariahs of the strategy gaming genre for quite a while, so it’s always nice to see them getting a tiny bit of love here and there. Until the last day of the month, soon-to-be city planners and “I could do a better job than my mayor” kind of guys can give the dozens of available demos a whirl. As always, genre-related games are on sale too.
Ultimate Admiral: Dreadnoughts Released
Game-Labs has decided to launch Ultimate Admiral: Dreadnoughts out of nowhere, just a couple of days after announcing their biggest update to date. This update brought a revamped fleet management system, improved fire control mechanisms, and major campaign features. This sudden anchor drop went as well as you would expect- users complaining about the game still missing a lot of its features, the lackluster state of the game and its failure to deliver on its premise. Game-Labs, unfortunately, went from being an indie darling to shoveling unfinished games into it’s 1.0 version. A shame, indeed.
After release, it is said that the team will continue to support the game for about 6 months until development ceases. If you were a brighter man than me and managed to avoid spending your hard-earned clams on this mess, then keep a tight hold of your doubloons until the development finally ceases.
Steel Division II: Blood Feud In Transylvania Out Now
Hungary and Germany will fight the Romanians for 10 days in the battle of Turda that took place in late 1944 in Steel Division’s 2 iconic Army General game mode. The update also brings a new 2v2 map called Oarba, new units (mainly Hungarian and Romanian), and two new aces. Steel Division II: Blood Feud in Transylvania was released on the 19th of January.
Age of Empires IV New Units
The quintessential real-time-strategy series’ latest iteration will have a more robust unit roster with the inclusion of seven new units: a battering ram, an elephant with handguns (with people holding the handguns, in case that wasn’t clear), a trebuchet, some last resort militiamen, Wynguard Footmen and Archers, and the literal jewel of the crown, a long time coming crowd pleaser, the King, is making a comeback.