Panzerwehr 1949 is a multiplayer WWII mech game where you take control of a tank-like mech with missiles and then shoot the living daylights out of people in other mechs. It’s being developed by Kukuru3, and I had a little chat with the Commercial Director, Nick Braun. I found out that this game will be all about finesse and mastering a skill rather than just pointing at a target and shooting.
You might have heard of Panzerwehr 1949 before since it was announced a couple of weeks ago. But if you haven’t, then feel free to check out the gameplay video below:
The Mech’s Controls are the Stars of This WWII Show
So when I first looked at Panzerwehr 1949 I got the sense that this game was going to involve a lot of complicated and clunky controls in an even clunkier mech. But since then, my opinion has been swayed measurably. Yes, the mech’s movement still comes off as somewhat clunky – but this is heavy WWII artillery we’re talking about. The rest of it, however, will be a smooth series of operating choices and strategic planning. It takes time and skill to become an elite mech pilot.
“The cockpit is king in our vision. We want the players to feel not as if they are wrestling against the controls but rather as if they are slowly mastering a huge steel beast.”
The studio is working hard to make sure that their mechs are the main point of focus for the players. They don’t want to create another tank game where you simply drive around trying to blow things up. “We are designing the systems, weapons, damage model and game mechanics in such a way to maximize reliance on your cockpit systems instead of just looking around and blasting everything that moves. We want flanking, ambushes and positioning to be more important than the ability to point at something and shoot,” Nick said. Flanking, ambushes, and positioning are what’s important in Panzerwehr 1949.
“We want the missions to be dynamic, without much downtime, so we have some plans to introduce mechanics specifically to discourage camping as a viable strategy. We also want the player to be able to “tank” shots, otherwise, you would be feeling like riding a piece of paper instead of a steel mech. But we also want to be able to peek behind corners without worrying about being instakilled by an ambusher,” he continued.
The Road So Far
The development of the Panzerwehr 1949 started in August 2016 but is taking quite a while since this is a small indie studio and there’s a lot to cover. The outside first person shooter part is relatively straightforward because it’s been done and there are guidelines within to work. But as for inside the mech, the team says that things are taking longer since there are “no comparable similar VR titles, to draw on existing experiences and best practices. Also, some things that look great on paper end up translating poorly in VR.”
There are also quite a few things to get through before calling a game ready for release. “Walker movement, cockpit controls, and ballistics were absolutely critical things that had to be solved before moving down the feature list, and this is what we have been doing over the past months. We are pretty much done with those, so next up on the list are mech customization, destructible terrain, and the procedural terrain generator.” But the team will release the game in Early Access (the date of which is still TBA) and will work off of player feedback as well.
A big influence the VR community’s feedback has had so far is making multiplayer a priority for the team. “Originally, multiplayer was one of these optional features (considering VR games’ small player base), but feedback from the internet was loud and clear: people want multiplayer. A lot can change in VR ecosystem in just a year and we now see games that thrive due to their multiplayer potential. So we bumped multiplayer up to high priority, and will probably deliver at least the co-op mode before, say, destructible terrain,” Nick continued.
What We do Know About Panzerwehr 1949
There will be a single-player mode with missions that you need to complete. According to the studio, each mission will last around 20 – 25 minutes to make up for head fatigue. Then there will also be 1v1 PvP and a 3-player co-op mode where players will have to work together in one mech unit, as well as online multiplayer. But Kukuru3 declined to give any more info on the multiplayer at this time. There’s also a lot more about the gameplay that we didn’t go into detail about here, but if this game interests you then you can read more about it on the studio’s website.
In terms of supported platforms, Panzerwehr 1949 will is being developed for the HTC Vive, but Oculus Rift and Touch support might become a possibility if the devs get their hands on a Rift headset. But they are “in TOUCH with the Oculus folks to make it happen.”