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Posted on May 4, 2009 in Electronic Games

Battlestations Pacific – Designer Interview

By Armchair General

Battlestations: Pacific from Eidos Inc. and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, a sequel to Battlestations: Midway, is scheduled for release May 12, 2009. interviewed Botond Szalacsi, lead designer on the new release, about what gamers can expect in the game.

Armchair General: Naturally, Battlestations: Pacific has naval and aerial combat as its main focus, but judging from the online videos, much detail has also been put into landscape elements. How will land-based combat figure into the game?

Botond Szalacsi: Battlestations: Pacific features controllable islands and other land bases and installations, such as airfields, radar stations and shipyards. With troop transport ships and paratroopers, players can invade and capture these locations. Players are only controlling the bigger landing ships, LST’s and the transport planes carrying the paratroopers as we felt that individual control of soldiers or smaller military units are out of the scope in this game. However, you can aid your landing party by softening up the enemy defences with artillery fire, strafing and bombing. Land bases work similar to ships – you can use the guns to defend the base against the invasion, send up airplanes and deploy ships if you have a shipyard present. In Island Capture (our chief new multiplayer mode) the game is about capturing islands and bases on them, defending them and using their airfields and shipyards to dominate your opponents.


ACG: Have there been any changes to the physics engine since Battlestations: Midway?

Szalacsi: Yes indeed, we substantially upgraded the plane, ship and sub physics in the game to a higher level. One of our goals was to increase the accessibility of the game while raising the level of realism that we had in Battlestations: Midway. Ship and plane control is now much easier to learn but still requires skill to master – you have to know roughly how a plane works to perform a perfect barrel roll in a dogfight! Ship and sub behaviour will be similar to those who are familiar with the previous game, but they were also raised to a higher level to ensure better playability and much-much better visuals – ships now shake when they are hit with a torpedo. They can break into two and sink that way. Big hits tear out huge chunks of metal from the ships, subs now dive and emerge realistically with a spectacular surfacing effect – just a few of the many improvements over the previous game.

ACG: In addition to the historical campaign, there is a "what if" campaign that assumes Japan won the battle of Midway and ultimately attempts to invade America. What can you tell us about this new wrinkle?

Szalacsi: For the first time in the Battlestations games, players will have full control of the Japanese faction and they will be able to fight for total domination of the Pacific Ocean. In this complete Japanese campaign, players will start from the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and they will continue to conquer and seize the Pacific in a historically possible what-if scenario. This means that players are able to change the course of history and even win the war as the Japanese. I think that the invasion of the US Mainland was very, very unlikely for the Japanese war machine in the Pacific war, and the game reflects this properly with the missions and the Japanese story – but I wouldn’t like to spoil the ending of the game.

With the Japanese campaign our goal was to give players a different point of view, not just another campaign with different units, and we felt that it’s important to really win the war as the Japanese – there is no point in winning a game, and losing the war itself. And I have to mention that you will never play the same mission twice – missions are completely unique on both sides.

ACG: Tell us a bit about the game’s five multiplayer modes.

Szalacsi: Battlestations: Pacific features five all-new multiplayer modes, each offering a completly different game experience. In Siege mode, the two teams are fighting in a large-scale battle where the goal is to capture an island with naval and air support for one team, and the other team’s job is to protect the island at all costs, and repel the invaders.

Escort maps are attack-defense scenarios where one team is tasked with a protection of a key unit – this can be an aircraft carrier, a battleship, or even paratroop carrier planes – and the other team has to destroy that specific unit by any means.

Competitive mode is a really challenging mode where all players are on the same side with the same goal: destroy more units than the other players. Imagine a mission where you are all playing with US destroyers and the task is to shoot down more planes, sink more ships than your teammates. These maps are fast-paced and action packed, ideal for cooperative play.

Duel mode is a quick tactical action against the other team – the players are facing an enemy having the same unit classes as they have, for example battleships, destroyers or fighters. Superior dogfighting and artillery skills doesn’t guarantee a win – the team with better coordination and tactcs will triumph over players who ignore teamwork.

And finally, there is Island Capture – this is our biggest and most complex game mode, and the one we are really excited about. In this mode, players are fighting for the control of an area dotted with islands and bases, and each captured base has something useful to offer, such as airfields, radar stations, shipyards and so on. Players can capture these islands with landing ships or paratroopers, or just by keeping a big fleet close to it. This mode offers unlimited tactical and strategical options for players who love the blend of action and strategy. The other modes are a little bit more action oriented, however you can still issue orders on the tactical map screen, and make higher-level decisions with your team.

ACG: Some of the new elements include the addition of experimental jet fighters. How do these affect play?

Szalacsi: We were always really excited about the idea of including early jet and experimental airplanes in the game, so we decided to put them in. These are extremely hard to get, so don’t expect that everybody will fly jets while playing online. One of them is the P-80 Shooting Star which is the fastest fighter plane in the game, and the other is the Nakajima Kikka for the Japanese side – this plane was basically the Japanese copy of the German Messerschmitt Me-262. Their biggest advantage is their high speed – they reach the combat zone faster than any other plane, but they are still vulnerable to AA fire and other piston-engined fighters. And because their high speed and average maneuvrability they are not as useful in dogfights as other planes – mastering hit-and-run tactics is the way to use them.

They are the only special units which you can unlock by playing online – the other units will be unlocked while progressing through the single-player missions.

ACG: Will there be an editor released with the launch or at some time in the future?

Szalacsi: We really wanted to ship the game with a complete editor and this was very high on our priority list; however, for development reasons, we finally had to remove this feature from the game as the editor wasn’t up for our standards and for us the overall quality of the game was more important.

We’d still like to support the game in the future, but unfortunately this is all that I can say at the moment.

ACG Intel:

Battlestations: Pacific

1 Comment

  1. This game looks far superior than the first all the way around, I will be sure to at least rent it for a week to check it out and see if it lives up to this preview article of being an immersive naval warfare game.