Developer Diary 29 – The Tutorial Update

We are releasing the companion update to the Barbarossa DLC (Update 15) today, one day ahead of the DLC release itself. The main attraction here is the completely overhauled tutorial, but there are a few other features and bug fixes too.

First, a quick recap for the Barbarossa DLC: the release date is April 21, and the price is $9.99. You command Axis forces, from the initial invasion all the way to the Battle for Moscow in late 1941.

Key features:

  • 23-scenario historical campaign, with battles from the lakes of Karelia in the north to the Black Sea beaches in the south
  • Limited, but still difficult to achieve, alternative historical outcomes, such as capturing Moscow in late 1941
  • Detailed, zoomed-in maps for the hard-fought sieges of Odessa and Sevastopol
  • 20+ new unit types including those from Italy, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Finland, and Spain
  • Beautiful new vehicle models including BT-7 and T-26 tanks, and the iconic ZIS-5 truck
  • New German cards: Blitzkrieg (reloads HQ command points) and Luftflotte
  • New terrain type: bog, used to model the impenetrable, swampy terrain facing Army Group North and the Finns
  • New original music: 4 brand new tracks by Bruno Babić, composed specifically for Barbarossa DLC

From Zero to Hero – the UoC II Tutorial

The original UoC II tutorial was never a fan favorite, and rightly so. In its defense, it was cobbled together in a few hurried days leading up the game’s release and never given the attention it deserves. Everything about the game was new to us at the time. We didn’t know how the players will react to all the new mechanics. What is obvious, and what needs to be pointed out. What is intuitive, and what needs explaining… all of that was a bit of a mystery to us back then.

I am not saying the new tutorial is perfect, but I assure you there is a world of difference. We are starting off real easy in this one, taking the time to introduce the very basics of movement and combat, how to undo, what are hexes, the fog of war, etc. Don’t worry if this sounds a bit pedestrian: the second tutorial already shows you the finer details of setting up your supply network. By the time you’re done with all six, I assure you that even the grizzled veterans of the vanilla, tutorial-impaired UoC II will have learned a trick or two.

The six tutorial scenarios are followed by the Tutorial Campaign. It’s only lightly annotated, showing you how to buy stuff on the conference screen, and then you’re off to play the scenarios. You are tasked with leading the fictional “T Force” from the Louisiana Maneuvers, through Torch Landings to the final Run for Tunis scenario.

We invented T Force because we needed a persistent core of units and an HQ to take them through the campaign. As a bonus, it serves to make the campaign easier for the novice player. The historical units are still there, in the North African scenarios, but they are aided by the tutorial “T Force” units. It still makes for quite interesting, if relatively easy, play.

Don’t Go For All Bonus Objectives

In the final scenario of the tutorial, we try to make a point that you are not meant to take all bonus objectives. We understand that a proficient player can, perhaps with some restarting, achieve this feat in most scenarios. It really isn’t the way this game was designed to be played, though. Let me quote AFHQ, straight from the final tutorial scenario briefing:

Bonus objectives are not required for victory, and often present you with a difficult choice. Focusing on one objective can cost you another. And that is OK, don’t feel bad about missing some bonus objectives. It is meant to be that way. Now, run for it!

AFHQ Dispatch, Run for Tunis

Personally, dropping objectives is how I’ve always been playing the game. There is a mud patch in the way, or I don’t particularly need the bonus reward? Skip the objective. My force is depleted and I need to bring it up to strength for the campaign? Don’t waste steps taking objectives on time. Even if you’re late on a primary objective, you get at least 25 prestige: don’t massacre 100 prestige worth of steps just to take it “in time”.

You have this freedom with objectives, and it allows you to take an alternative approach to the entire scenario if you want. This is the way the game was designed to be played: set the difficulty level so that it’s challenging on a turn-by-turn basis, but be strategic about going for objectives.

One More Turn

This is a new feature: we are letting you request an additional turn to complete the scenario. Such requests are always granted, but your prestige does suffer as a result. The prestige cost starts at 25 but doubles every time such appeals are needed in the campaign.

This option is disabled by default on classic and hard difficulties, but it can be enabled in Options/Gameplay.

We are also giving you a light boost if you’re forced to restart a scenario. On normal, you will receive a truck asset and one flying arty. On easy, there’s more: an air attack, infantry steps, engineers. This feature is never available on classic and hard difficulties.

Anyway, that’s it from me for today. The tutorial was a big undertaking for us, so there wasn’t much time to devote to improvements for non-novice players this time around. We hope that in the next update we can do more on that front. Feel free to comment, and we’ll take a look at what’s possible.


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