Modern naval warfare, long ignored by the games industry, surely has its share of die-hard fans and enthusiasts. It’s not hard to see why. Modern fighter aircraft are the most advanced (and expensive!) pieces of technology humans ever built. Navy ships are by far the biggest war machines ever built. Submarines are massive, hidden warships that can only be detected at a scarily close range.
Everybody has their favourite unit. And everybody believes that this unit should be a part of Naval War: Arctic Circle.
First, I should say this Dev diary is not going to include The Canonical Unit List. It is, after all, a work in progress.
I will, however, try to detail the philosophy behind the game, to explain how we will go about deciding what units and weapon systems we are going to include.
Naval War: Arctic Circle is about contemporary naval combat. We want to create a game that allows the user to experience the thrill of controlling the often overlooked military hardware that is out to sea. In a way, the game will be a revisit of the what-ifs stemming from the Cold War, where the North Atlantic was expected to be the key battleground for Soviet naval and aerial forces determined to prevent NATO reinforcements from reaching the meat grind battlefields of central Europe. Add in a contemporary conflict over oil and gas, fisheries and transportation routes in the arctic region, and we see endless potential for cold steel and hot firepower.
Not another forum thread asking if there will be lasers in NWAC... PHOTO: Mariel Lødum.
The decision to place the game in the year 2030 has nothing to do with science fiction (it is, after all, less than twenty years into the future). It was mostly about creating a political and historical back story making a military conflict in the North Atlantic feasible. Also, it will allow us to include some exciting new units currently under development in the real world, like the US’ F-35, Russia’s PAK FA stealth fighter, and Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier.
However, military technology keeps moving forward, and feasibility studies of lasers or rail guns have the press predicting deployment of such weapons in the near future. Even leaving aside the tight budgetary constraints the US Navy currently experiences, there is a long way from a successful demonstration to somebody rebuilding a major warship to deploy a new space- and power-consuming monster weapon.
Denmark's HDMS Absalon, a flexible support ship that is a strong candidate for inclusion in NWAC. PHOTO: Wikipedia commons user Heb.
As you probably understand from the above, there will be no death rays in Naval War: Arctic Circle. The game takes place in the age of missile warfare. Smart, guided weapons are by far the primary weapons of modern warfare at sea and in the air.
That is all very well, I hear you say, but will the converted Ohio class submarine be in the game? Or the PAK DA next gen strategic bomber? Or…
At this time, we cannot commit to which units and weapons will be included in NWAC.
Our idea is to create a good gaming experience based on naval and aerial combat operations in a hypothetical conflict in the North Atlantic in the near future. The major combatants, in a nod to reality, will be the USA, the United Kingdom and Russia. For these nations it is important that all the central combatants are included, as well as relevant support units. We also plan to include important modern assets used by the defense forces of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Germany, Canada and Holland. For some of these countries, only one unit is included. Other nations in the area, like the Baltics or Iceland, have no relevant assets that could be expected to survive any hostile contact. We have also, for other reasons, chosen to entirely omit the Swiss navy.
Aircraft that have no or limited relevance for naval operations are not expected to be included in the game.
In a real time strategy game, it is important to avoid, or at least reduce, redundancy. Having multiple units that are very similar does not contribute to your arsenal in a meaningful way. Simulated units in a game are necessarily less complex than their real life counterparts, so even units that are distinguished in real life, for example by reliance on easily available off-the-shelf components or lower maintenance costs, will not be very different in a game where such factors are not taken into account.
Turbo Tape Games developers in limbo. PHOTO: Mariel Lødum.
To be concrete, if you have available a number of different fighter aircraft, there should be a difference between them, in capability and cost. If you play as the US, you may have available only a limited number of carrier based stealth F-35s and must rely on less-stealthy Super Hornets for much of the heavy lifting. Your F-22s are few and precious, and also land based, and you will have to choose carefully how you deploy these different fighter aircrafts in your order of battle. For example, you may choose to first engage with the Super Hornets, intending to draw your opponent’s most valuable air assets into a trap you spring with your stealth fighters.
HMS Daring, the lead ship in the UK's Type 45 destroyer class. PHOTO: Brian Burnell.
Much of the same is true about surface ships. Your task forces, especially the carrier groups, need to be in a tight formation of cruisers, destroyers and frigates to successfully defend against missile attacks. For example, the Royal Navy’s future surface combatants are specialists. The Type 45 (Daring class) have some capabilities for land, surface and anti-submarine warfare, but it is primarily an air defence ship. Its primary role is to deny airspace for enemy aircraft, and to protect against missiles. It is complemented by the Type 26 Frigate (still under development), which is to be a specialised anti-surface and anti-submarine vessel. How you compose your task force will be crucial for your ability to deal with the numerous threats your opponent can field against you. If you deploy forces that have strong anti-air but are weak against submarine threats, or vice versa, you will probably be punished.
The units we choose to include in Naval War: Arctic Circle will give you players all the tactical and strategic choices that will make it an enjoyable, challenging game. You will have a wide variety of real-world modern hardware at your disposal, to challenge yourself in the ultimate confrontation between the greatest war machines ever built.