Team Assault: Baptism of Fire Preview

by on 15th Apr 2011

Robin Flodin

Team Assault: Baptism of Fire is a WWII 3D turn-based tactical game that doesn't feature hexes. At all. Instead of being banished to the Naughty Corner, Team Assault (previously known as Cause of War), from Swedish developer Zeal, stands out proudly. Robin Flodin of Zeal, when not criticising the British for their profligate use of taps, enthused "We love turn-based tactics games, games like Jagged Alliance and X-Com. We wanted to create a game that was not about big armies, but about squad combat, about the individual soldier...we wanted to bring in some of the military experience that we have from the team, from our service in the Swedish army. We wanted to try to implement weapons in another way that we haven't seen before."

One of the things that immediately caught my attention was Flodin's mention of 'true' line of sight (LOS). Unlike most games, there is no artificial limit on a soldier's LOS. Although a tree may be blocking one soldier's LOS, his comrade a few feet away will still have LOS to the approaching enemy and will be able to open fire. Although technically demanding, such a process allows more realistic gameplay, and combined with the way weapons work, it could make Team Assault something new and brilliant.

Weapons are realistic, having the correct magazine capacities and capabilities. For instance, if a soldier armed with a rifle spots an enemy at 400 metres range, he will be able to engage that target, though his chance of hitting will not be great. There are no arbitrary range limits. Encumbrance is also a factor, so you cannot simply hand every soldier a machine gun and drape them in ammunition. Flodin pointed out that you can still build the squad you want, despite limitations, "Carrying weapons or ammunition that are too heavy will decrease stamina, but you can add Physical Endurance to make up for it...the system creates so many possibilities."

Different weaponry will also allow different targeting options. Although the firepower of a squad can be directed against several targets simultaneously, normal soldiers can only target an enemy squad, while snipers can target specific soldiers.

Team Assault's arsenal includes Axis and Allied weaponry, from pistols to submachine guns to heavy machine guns, as well as mortars, grenades, and rocket launchers. Weaponry will have different penetration values, so a rifle can penetrate cover that a pistol cannot, and penetration will reduce with range and/or pieces of cover penetrated. Even different weapons of the same type will have different penetration values.

Thanks to the LOS system and realistic weaponry, cover and concealment are more important than ever, and as there is no HP system, soldiers react badly to pieces of lead passing through them at hundreds of metres per second. Soldiers are simply healthy, wounded, or killed. Although you can abandon wounded comrades, this incurs a morale penalty, and healing them offers a morale reward. But this means exposing yourself to more enemy fire...

Squad customisation is possible down to individual soldier level. Soldiers can be given different ranks, experience levels (from Conscript to Elite), skills (e.g. Marksman for better long range shooting, War Veteran for reduced Morale loss under fire), and weapons. Squads can be 1-8 men in size, and their cost will reflect their training and equipment. One of the neat touches is that the force builder can be run independent of the main game, being a small file that you can take anywhere and while away some time designing your squads. There will be a level editor included too, and with file sizes remaining small, sharing custom battlefields and forces should be simple enough.

Although the WWII setting will astonish no-one, the new turn system just might. Instead of having each side take a turn in regular, predictable fashion, the system is dynamic, and based on squad initiative, which is determined by morale and leadership (high ranks come in handy). Turn order can change, if a squad is pinned by heavy fire, or their CO is killed, their initiative will fall, putting them further back in the turn order. The turn system makes the game much faster to play than your average turn-based game, the pace is surprisingly nippy, but it is still turn-based, giving you time to think. Exposing yourself to enemy eyes will result in opportunity fire, and although suppessive fire against positions (as opposed to enemies) was not yet possible, Flodin stated that Zeal were working on it.

The combat log records everything that happens during the game, so you'll never be wondering why x happened instead of y, providing a handy play-and-learn guide to those of us allergic to manuals. We might very well need it, as the dynamic turn system might prove to be a challenge, but overall the game looks easy enough to pick up. Fire and movement is a case of a lot of one, or a little of both, e.g. you can sprint, or you can lay down a lot of fire, or you can move a little and shoot a little. Movement affects your own firing accuracy and the chance of you being hit by enemy fire.

Team Assault will ship with Skirmish and Multiplayer modes, with campaigns to be released in the future. The main mode in Skirmish is Domination, where two sides contest a number of control points scattered across the map. Annihilation, a simpler deathmatch-style game, is also an option. Multiplayer is played live, not PBEM, but such is the flow of the game that this will not be a problem, and a ranking system should provide some healthy competition.

Team Assault has taken two years to make, and looks like it could potentially shake up an entire genre upon release, 15th of June, 2011.

 

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FullAuto\
17 Apr 2011 - 7:52pm
FullAuto
If they get the balance right, this could be a winner.  They also need to include suppressive fire, in some shape or form, but the game could work without it.  Flodin mentioned several times that fun wasn't going to be sacrificed for realism, so I dunno!
Ralphie\
17 Apr 2011 - 4:25am
Ralphie
Nice article, it really managed to spike my interest in the game.
To add to it the videos look pretty interesting so far.

 

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Game Card

Team Assault: Baptism of Fire Box
Developer: Zeal Game Studio
Publisher: Slitherine
Released:15/06/2011

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