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Navyfield 2: Conqueror of the Ocean Gamescom 2012 Preview

Navyfield II: Conqueror of the Ocean is an upcoming free-to-play MMO real-time strategy title focused on naval warfare in the theatres of World War I and World War II. There is a good chance that you won't have heard of the original Navy Field, a game which went relatively below the radar for the most part, but new publisher Nexon are determined that this one will make more of a splash as they feel the game has enormous potential.

The game will be featuring both PvE (player versus environment) and PvP (player versus player) options integrated at launch offering a mix of solo, cooperative and competitive gameplay. Numerous different game modes and options are promised for both PvE and PvP play to ensure each game plays differently.

The setting of WWI and WWII is not intended to be historically accurate, with the emphasis being on using the setting to create interesting battle situations rather than recreating real ones. Many of the battles will be entirely fictitious and it was stated that there may also be various 'what-if' scenarios playing out, putting a twist on the historical perspective.

The game is currently in Alpha stage but already has an impressive roster of 200 different ships spread across 10 different categories, with Nexon anticipating that the Beta release will double this number and feature in excess of 400. Most of these models are based on real ships but a number of models are based on military prototypes that were designed and blueprinted but never built, again turning history on its head and experimenting with various what-ifs.

Players will be represented by a 'Captain' character who is created when the game is first joined. The Captain does not appear as a playable character in game but rather effectively behaves as a character sheet behind the scenes that represents the player. The Captain can be upgraded with various passive abilities in fields such as aviation command and weapon support as the player levels up. Navyfield 2 will launch with a level cap of 100, a level expected to take an extremely dedicated player three months to reach and significantly longer for a casual fan.

In addition to the Captain, a player can also recruit officers who have their own sets of passive attributes. A certain number of officers can be taken along on a mission, dependent on the player's investment into their Captains specialisations, and their abilities and bonuses will contribute to overall ship effectiveness.

In terms of the pricing model, as a free-to-play title Nexon are keen to offer something to those players willing to pay without having too much of a negative impact on those playing for free. Captain abilities and ship upgrades are paid for using points and XP earned in game, but premium content available for purchase can boost the rate in which income and XP are received; so paying players can unlock content that little bit faster than play-for-free players. Items bought on the marketplace can also be traded with other people.

We did get to see some gameplay of this title when we visited Nexon during gamescom 2012. While the top-down isometric graphics were not particularly impressive it is clear that the gameplay in Navyfield 2 is very in-depth and detailed.

The player controls a single ship at a time, although when near a base may swap their vessels to control another one of the ships under their command. There is no automatic firing simply by clicking on an enemy or letting ships close into range, instead the player must manually aim their weapons and order the fire command. The strategy here lies both in aiming the weapons quickly to beat you opponent but also in predicting the enemy movement and shot distance to ensure the aim is properly aligned.

As we saw in our demonstration, there will be AI assistance in certain missions. In the sample mission we observed the player alongside a friendly ship defend an island base from a Japanese assault. As well as the friendly vessel, the player was backed up by support from an airfield on the island, which not only allowed the player to call for air support but also granted a substantial degree of control over the friendly planes themselves.

The gameplay also seems to adopt the traditional paper-scissors-stone approach of play where choosing the correct type of unit plays as much of a part as a player's skill. At the opening of our mission the initial battleship unit was struggling under the onslaught of the large Japanese fleet. Once it was ascertained that the initial wave of enemy ships lacked sonar or depth charges the battleship was taken back to base and swapped out for a submarine, allowing a period of destruction with impunity against the opening wave until more dangerous vessels begin to approach.

It is fair to say that Navyfield 2: Conqueror of the Ocean is a fairly niche title with a specific player base in mind; on this point even the publisher agreed with us. There is nothing for casual players here, this is most definitely a game for the hardest of the hardcore and even then is mainly for those with a natural inclination toward naval warfare as well. For those players, Navyfields 2 should be up and running within the first half of 2013.

Ewok | 2nd January, 2013

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