Despite the original releasing in 2009, Best Way has decided that 13 years was a long enough wait for a direct sequel.
If you were born in the late 90's (alike myself), you probably won't recognise the series Men of War all that well. This is a strategy series that has been doing the rounds since 2004, when Soldiers: Heroes of World War II launched on PC, giving players a chance to command troops of various factions in singleplayer and multiplayer battles. Since that day, the series rebranded to Men of War in 2009, and following that there have been a wide array of spinoffs to fall under that very namesake, but there has been no sign of a direct sequel. Until now.
Best Way, the developer behind the game that kickstarted this franchise in 2004, once again has its hands on the IP, and has decided that 13 years is a long-enough period of time to wait for a sequel, as Men of War II is officially coming in 2022 for PC. While we don't have an exact release date to go by just yet, I have had the chance to see some gameplay of Men of War II in action, as part of a hands-off preview session, where I got a look at the new features that will highlight this direct sequel.
First of all, it's worth noting that alike a lot of the Men of War series, Men of War II will once again be set in World War 2. The majority of the gameplay will revolve around the two cinematic singleplayer campaigns that puts the player in charge of either the Soviet or the Allies' armies, as they look to push into Axis' territory. The campaigns will tell the stories of the gritty battles toward the beginning of the war, as well as the bigger, more renowned victories as the war reaches its conclusion, and will see combat taking place on the snowy Eastern Front as well as in various ruined European cities.
In terms of the gameplay, this will be handled from a top-down perspective, where the player is tasked with commanding and ordering units to overwhelm opposing forces in order to claim an objective, for example. What Men of War II offers, however, is a little different to previous games in the series, as the new Front Line changes the dynamic of how you have to approach strategy.
In this sequel, the battlefield will be split into two defined sides, the Soviets/Allies vs. the Axis. As the former, you will have to command units, issuing them orders into the Axis' territory to be able to push the Front Line in your favour. The benefits for doing this are plentiful, as units can only be summoned a specific distance behind the Front Line, meaning a deeper one will allow you to spawn units closer to the enemy objective/base. As well as this, units can only be healed, repaired, and replenished in your own territory, so a deeper Front Line will make that far easier to manage, and you also won't have to worry about the Fog of War in your area, making strategizing simpler too as map vision will be far wider.
As for the types of units and forces that will be on offer, Men of War II will boast a collection of over 300 vehicles and 45 battalions, all of which have been crafted and sculpted from blueprints and real images to achieve the best level of authenticity in their appearances. There is also the Direct Control feature, which will allow the player to take a first-person perspective of its units, for a more hands-on approach to the combat, whether that be manning a howitzer cannon and rallying shells from deep within your own territory or jumping into the driver's seat of a Sherman tank to blast through all manners of German armour.
Since this is a sequel coming 13 years following the release of the original (13 years come 2022), Best Way also informed us about the reworked AI, which is slated to offer a far better representation of strategy, compared to the 2009 title. This system will be in effect in the singleplayer campaigns, as well as the cooperative mode, where you can team up with a friend to take it to the AI in a variety of realistic skirmish and challenge maps, as well as the co-op campaign that can be played with up to five players. If all of that isn't enough, Men of War II will also be bringing back multiplayer, so you can directly face off against other players in the "biggest multiplayer modes in franchise history".
In the spirit of welcome upgrades in this sequel, Best Way also told us a little about the more intricate improvements it has been working on. From the enhanced visuals and sound design, to the far more destructive maps, which will allow players to blow bridges, trees, buildings, rivers, and more to smithereens, Best Way seem to be putting an equal amount of emphasis on Men of War II's minor features as much as its major features. The tanks are a great example of this, as they now have complex armour rules (similar to that in War Thunder and World of Tanks), where shots are less likely to penetrate and deal damage to the front of a tank, compared to hitting it in the side or back, where the armour is significantly thinner.
As Men of War II will also be a PC exclusive title when it launches in 2022, Best Way also informed us about its intention for full mod support, allowing players to customise their experience in their own ways, be it through a specially designed toolset that puts choices in your own hands.
While I haven't had the chance to directly play Men of War II yet, the gameplay I have been able to see and the information that Best Way has shared with me, shows that this is shaping up to be a competent strategy experience in theory. There is a lot of history surrounding this series, so hopefully it can live up to expectations and also improve on what allowed Men of War to remain on the scene for almost 20 years. Either way, with launch planned for next year, it shouldn't be too long until we get to learn more about this RTS title.