Waterloo 3D: Simulating One Of History’s Greatest Battles

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Though large-scale battles now regularly feature in wargames of all genres, those focusing on a single iconic clash, simulated with precision, are relatively rare. The apparent growth potential for this market offers Plus Infinity Studios an opportunity rarely afforded to indie developers: to redefine a genre on their terms, learning from past projects’ mistakes to perfect a concept. Given their self-declared ‘passion’ for Napoleonic-era gaming, theoretically, at least, Waterloo 3D could be the ideal way to do this…

The Premise

With the French, British, and Prussian armies to choose from, Waterloo 3D promises players an authentic battle experience from either side of the frontlines. Therefore, players can either replicate or diverge from the actual flow of events, leaving history in flux as a result. To this end, bonus content offers to more comprehensively alter the ‘historical arc’ of events: this extra makes the Battles of Quatre Bras and Ligny, fought immediately before Waterloo, playable – potentially changing the dynamics of the main clash itself. Alternatively, you could trigger a ‘What-If’ scenario, changing factors such as the weather or troop deployment at key moments mid-game; changes that, though small, could significantly affect the battle’s outcome.

It merits mention that this isn’t the first Waterloo simulation game; released in 1989, Personal Software Services’ Waterloo (1989) offered a similar, albeit more primitive, premise as Waterloo 3D. Therefore, though not mentioned by Plus Infinity as an inspiration, this classic release would inevitably be a bar against which their efforts are judged. In fairness, there are critical differences between each premise; for example, Waterloo 3D expands gameplay to include Prussian forces, not just British and French. Nevertheless, the comparison is somewhat inevitable; thus, Waterloo 3D’s greatest challenge is successfully updating this formula for today’s generation.

The Gameplay

This considered, one aspect of Waterloo 3D that somewhat mirrors its predecessor is tactics. Like Waterloo (1989), today’s game emphasises understanding the traits and utility of available units to develop a dynamic battle plan that adapts to and out-thinks enemy actions. However, the scope for this in Waterloo (1989) was reasonably limited, players operating from the narrow field perspective of a single commander; this is not the case for Waterloo 3D. This game offers several virtual tutorials, allowing players to learn how to command increasingly complex numbers of units, gradually rising from a single infantry battalion to mastering challenging cavalry tactics. Camera controls also receive a gentle introduction to ease navigation. In contrast, Waterloo (1989) relied on a manual and fold-out battle map to aid strategy, understandable, given the more primitive technology then available, but still inferior to this generation’s offering.

Furthermore, Waterloo 3D’s tactical improvements aren’t limited to open battle; players will also utilise buildings in search of victory. Whether pursuing a defensive strategy, using farmhouses as sheltered outposts from which to inflict heavy losses, or offensive, using artillery to knock out enemy supply stores- such buildings can significantly affect the course of the conflict.

Finally, Waterloo 3D adds authenticity to your battle experience by granting command over a range of infantry, cavalry, and artillery units, all carefully simulated to reflect the uniforms worn and specific functions performed in the field. All such units, ranging from Britain’s ‘Scots Greys’ to the French ‘Grenadiers à Pied’, will be available immediately, negating the need for expensive in-game purchases to ‘upgrade’ your forces in pursuit of victory. Yet, the game goes further in the quest of realism; various prominent landmarks, like Placenoit Church and La Haie, also feature. Thus, players will now experience this iconic battle in style more closely resembling actual events.

Conclusion

Overall, it is too early to decide whether Waterloo 3D can ‘redefine’ its genre; until its release later this year, any definitive judgement would be pure speculation. Nevertheless, it has undoubtedly built upon and improved the formula first tested in Waterloo (1989), refining tactical elements through virtual tutorials. This upgrade has been complemented by promises of a more authentic battle experience, updating the premise of a single-battle wargame for today’s players.

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