Seven features that make Men of War 2 the most detailed strategy game you'll play this year

By Rick Lane
Men of War 2 aims to be more than another World War II strategy game. It aspires to be the World War II strategy game, as comprehensive a depiction of the international Hitler-kicking contest as you can get (short of personally driving a Sherman tank through Normandy, anyhow). Not only does Best Way's sequel place you in command of a huge array of units from three different armies of the European campaign, it lets you control those units with a remarkable level of granularity. From soldiers who can dig their own trenches to artillery guns that can reshape the entire battlefield, here are seven reasons why Men of War 2 is the most detailed real-time strategy you'll play this year.

A dynamic frontline that moves with your soldiers

At the heart of Men of War 2's strategic battles is its frontline system. By tracking the movement of soldiers across the battlefield, the system dynamically generates a frontline to represent the areas of the map held by each army at any given moment. There's no need to grab and hold specific control points in Men of War 2; your squads capture territory with every step they take.
Seven Features That Make Men Of War 2 The Most Detailed Strategy Game You Ll Play This Year Frontline
This makes it easy to get an overview of any given battle at a glance. But the frontline system plays more specific roles too: It's central to many of the game's mission objectives. You may be ordered to encircle an enemy position by capturing the territory around it, for example, or have to break through enemy lines to connect with a reinforcing unit. The system also affects the game at a mechanical level. You can only perform certain actions (like setting up defenses) from your side of the line, and advancing the frontline also lets you reinforce your units from a higher position.

Lead the charge personally through direct control of units

No matter how specific you are with your orders in RTS games, there are always moments when you can't get your units to do exactly what you want. In these situations, Men of War 2 lets you take action by assuming personal control of any unit in the game. Tanks, machine gun emplacements, artillery guns, and even individual soldiers can be placed under your direct command, temporarily turning it into a third-person action game like Gears of War or World of Tanks.

This is particularly useful if you need to perform a task that requires precision, like using a paratrooper to silently eliminate patrolling guards with throwing knives, or taking control of an anti-tank gun to land a shell on an armored vehicle hiding between two buildings. But you can also use it to just get in on the action from time to time. After all, why should your bazooka team have all the fun blowing stuff up?

Use anything on the battlefield to gain an advantage…

Whether you're commanding a Soviet tank brigade to hold off the entire German army or directing American paratroopers as they sneak through the hedgerows of Normandy, many missions involve fighting a vastly superior force. Consequently, you'll often need to find clever ways to turn the tide of battle in your favor, begging, borrowing, or stealing weapons and equipment wherever you find it.

Fortunately, any weapon or vehicle used by the enemy can also be used by you. That machine-gun nest you've just cleared? Put a squad on it and spin it around to pepper the German lines. Spot a German artillery gun hidden in a copse of trees? Kill its crew, roll it up the hill, and rain down hell on their defenses from half a mile away.

Vehicles and larger weapons aren't the only objects you can purloin for your own ends, either. Since every soldier in the game has their own inventory, you can rifle through the equipment of fallen enemies to nick their weapons, ammo, and health kits. You can also siphon fuel from enemy vehicles using to refill the tanks of your—well—tanks. You can even shoot an enemy's helmet off and then steal it off the ground. Whatever the scenario, it's important to remember the first rule of war—finders keepers, losers get blown back to Germany by their own Flak 88s.

…or just destroy it

As an RTS set in World War II, you won't be surprised to hear that blowing stuff up plays a major role in Men of War 2. Indeed, developer Best Way takes destruction very seriously, with every explosion potentially altering the course of a battle. Any object that provides cover can be obliterated with a well-placed mortar or artillery shell, whether it's a wall, a tree, or a building. On the flipside, explosions can also create cover, with ordnance churning up terrain as it thuds into the soil, leaving behind craters that can be used by soldiers as ad hoc cover.
Seven Features That Make Men Of War 2 The Most Detailed Strategy Game You Ll Play This Year Mortar
The game's most nuanced destruction systems are reserved for buildings and vehicles. Structures bend and break in different ways according to where they're hit, with windows shattering and rooftops collapsing in direct response to the point of impact. As for vehicles, all manner of things can happen when a shell collides with a tank. It might knock out the tracks, leaving it immobile; it might disable the gun, rendering it unable to fire; or it might kill some of the crew inside, making it slower to move and fire. But, of course, it might just explode outright, leaving behind a smoldering wreck that might be used as cover later in the battle.

Order soldiers to dig trenches and build fortifications

If you struggle to find cover across Men of War 2's large open battlefields, you can always create some yourself. Most infantry units can build sandbag walls that protect your troops from enemy gunfire and dig trench networks that let you move between positions safely. Some units can also build more advanced fortifications, like sandbag machine-gun nests and even concrete pillboxes. Establishing a strong defense can be crucial in consolidating any advances you make across Men of War 2's dynamic frontline, enabling a handful of soldiers to hold off a much larger force.

Find the right war for you with three different campaign types

Where most games settle for one campaign, Men of War 2 has six campaigns, which are divided into three different types. To start with, there are three standard campaigns, each of which has you control a preset selection of units to complete specific objectives. You'll command the forces of the Soviet Union as it strives to hold back Germany's advance across Eastern Europe into Russia; guide America's army through Normandy as they encircle the Germans at the Falaise Pocket; and play as the ragged remnants of the Werhmacht while they fight on home soil in the dying days of the war.
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On top of this are two "Historical Campaigns" where you oversee the Russian counteroffensive into Eastern Europe and the D-Day landings. These differ from the standard campaigns in two key ways. They allow you to research new technologies and upgrade your units, and also choose which types of units you bring into the battle with you.

Finally, there's Conquest mode, a Total War-style dynamic campaign that combines turn-based army movements across large, open-ended maps, with real-time tactical battles where you'll fight over key villages and towns. The four different maps let you fight as the Americans to liberate Paris, hold back the German assault as the Soviets, or press the Western or Eastern fronts as the Wehrmacht. Combined with quick-fire raiding missions and multiplayer modes, there are plenty of different ways to experience Men of War 2's action.

Tow artillery around with vehicles (or, in a pinch, horses)

One of my favorite details in Men of War 2 is how you can connect deployable weapons (such as heavy machine guns or artillery) to vehicles, letting you tow them around the battlefield. With American and German forces, you do this using mechanized vehicles like trucks and half-tracks. But the Soviets can also use horses to pull their big guns into position. There's something deeply satisfying about packing up your big guns and moving them to a new area, especially when the job's done by a carefully deployed horse.

Men of War 2 is out May 22nd on the Epic Games Store.