The third announcement in the IL-2 series update on Friday was surrounding a new tank sim called Tank Crew. Tank Crew, like the other announced titles, is part of the IL-2: Great Battles Series and that means that this integrates into the rest of the IL-2 series.
Tank Crew is kind of a unique title for the series. I suspect the hope is to entice players who are interested in ground battles and tank warfare to jump into the IL-2 series without having to commit to buying any airplanes at all. Those interested in that ground-only combat will be able to play Tank Crew and not worry about the flight sim that its built on. I think this is a good potential for opening the series up to new players. Maybe a few will decide they do want to fly at some point too.
The tentative list of vehicles includes:
- T-34-76 STZ
- ZIS-5 + 72K
- PzKpfw III Ausf.L
- PzKpfw IV Ausf.G
- PzKpfw V Ausf.D
- PzKpfw VI Ausf.H1
- Sd. Kfz. 184
- Sd. Kfz. 10 + Flak38
This is a mix of tanks like the T-34, KV-1, M4 Sherman, and the Panzer III, IV, V and VI plus some self propelled guns like the Sd. Kfz. 184 Elefant and a pair of self-propelled AA batteries. A good mix and one that covers most of the major armored vehicles of the mid-war period.
I’ve already talked about this in my previous two in-depth articles on the announcements this week but I wanted to restate. This title is a standalone option that players can buy and operate purely as a tank/armored vehicle driver. But its part of an integrated whole combined together under the IL-2: Great Battles title.
Everything with this badge will be combined together into one world that offers both flight and now tank driving. That integration opens up some interesting opportunities for multiplayer teamwork.
Drawing on a strength that the IL-2 series already has, tanks can be multi-crewed by different players in multiplayer. You and your buddy can take on the different roles in the tank. So far as I know this is a unique new feature quoted by the developer notes on Tank Crew.
Our tanks will be multi-crew in multiplayer which most other leading tank games are not capable of.
IL-2 already allows this with bombers being crewed by other human gunners. It’s a great feature (when its someone you know anyways) but you can also lock people from joining if it causes a problem or you want to operate by yourself.
Battle of Kursk
Focused on the Battle of Kursk and specifically Prokhorovka the map for this tank battle will be relatively small at only 100km x 100km. Its still a useful size for air battles and absolutely massive compared to most games that are vehicle focused.
The map that this will be built on may feature a few extra details versus a regular IL-2 map. So says IL-2 Lead Producer Jason Williams:
When we say detailed we don’t mean like WT or WOT maps with super destructible everything. We’re talking about adding a more detailed terrain mesh and maybe destructible trees and other small elements that make it a bit more detailed, but not crushing detail.
We’ve also learned some other interesting details in the same comment:
Tanks on other maps will look like it does now which is still good enough for open range tank maneuvers and battles.The complaints we have about tanks on our current maps is that they are simply too big for tanks to have a lot of fun. You can argue about that all day, but if we make a cool map designed for tankers to battle it can only add to the fun. There will also be a few airfields on this map as well.
The last part is where I get really excited and this validates what I thought when I heard about the product in the first place. Airfields on this map ensures that we’ll see some combined arms opportunities and two aircraft immediately spring to mind: The IL-2 and Hs129. Both are dedicated anti-tank weapons and would have a direct impact on players driving in the tanks.
Vehicle players can fight back thanks to controllable mobile AA as well as whatever weapons are available on the other tanks. Of course there may be more strategic objectives that could be destroyed by bombers and all could be defended by friendly fighters trying to stop friendlies on the ground from being attacked. It’s a great way to have a large scale multiplayer battle with a lot of different dimensions.
The Battle of Kuban planeset works amazingly well for the Prokhorovka/Belgorod area so there will be no shortage of historical types for this battle.
And this is where I get excited: Combined Arms. We’ve seen it already and I even wrote about it a while back. This steps it up a notch by making vehicles that are more detailed for the tank drivers and developing a scenario that is well suited to those kinds of engagements.
Suddenly IL-2 as a series may appeal to a whole new kind of player. One that hasn’t had a title to satisfy them in many years.
Because of its close connection to the IL-2 series I will be offering at least some coverage of this title’s development as it goes forward. Tanks were never my focus but I’m excited about the possibilities.