Steel Division 2 PC preview: head to the Eastern Front in this WWII RTS

Last year, the real-time strategy (RTS) game Steel Division: Normandy 44 launched to acclaim. Featuring authentic World War II combat scenarios and deep gameplay mechanics, it was a very good game — but good isn't good enough for developer Eugen Systems. They're back with the next installment in the series, Steel Division 2. While it's not coming out until next year, I got the opportunity to see a demo with some alpha footage. Here's what you can expect.

Read: Steel Division: Normandy 44 review

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Gameplay systems refined

For the most part, Steel Division 2 contains the same core mechanics from Normandy 44: real-time action, attack/retreat orders, environmental factors (for example, putting infantry in a building to give them better cover), and more. Tanks, planes, and infantry all clash over a large battlefield. What makes Steel Division 2, however, is the fact you can customize your gameplay experience to suit your preferences.

One of these choices is to slow down battle. One of the biggest issues I had with Normandy 44 was that things were too fast for me to process and react to, so having the ability to slow everything a bit will be fantastic. The other choice is to be able to switch between a strategic and tactical command perspective. In Normandy 44, you were only playing during combat scenarios. In Steel Division 2, though, you have the option of being a general, making specific decisions about which unit battalions go where, and when they do so.

A new battlefield

Unlike Normandy 44, which only took place in the smaller areas of the Western Front, Steel Division 2 takes place on the Eastern Front, where the USSR and Nazis are at war on Soviet territory. Due to how geographically massive the Soviet Union was, battle scenarios will be bigger than ever before.

Both the USSR and the Germans are available as playable factions, and each of them have their strengths and weaknesses. Just like they did in the real war, the USSR vastly outnumbers the Germans in Steel Division 2. However, the Nazis have a technological advantage. While German and USSR infantry were comparable to one another, one German tank or plane was worth several USSR ones. This dynamic ensures each faction has a different play style that trends towards historical accuracy.

War has never been this pretty

Even though I only got to see some alpha footage, it's already apparent that Steel Division 2 will look beautiful. Whether you want to zoom in and check out the side of an armored vehicle up close, or pan out and view the entire warzone, Steel Division 2 can fulfill your wishes with its high-definition models and environments. There's also a unit gallery where you can view units in a "garage" while reading up on their real-world history.

Conclusion: Don't miss this authentic WW2 experience

Based on everything I saw, Steel Division 2 is shaping up to be the perfect title that Normandy 44 fell just short of becoming. Between the improved gameplay customization, bigger scale, and improved visuals, I have a feeling this game will be taking the PC community by storm.

Steel Division 2 is coming to Steam in 2019 according to the developer. Make sure to check out the Steam page for more info.

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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.