September 13, 2015 by Grant Madden
Navy Field 2, a combined World War I and World War II naval combat simulation from the Korean company SDEnterNet, has been released through the digital game store, Steam. Playable through both Steam and a browser window, this is one the first MMO’s (massive multiplayer online) in the naval simulation genre that appears to have a great balance between commercial success and entertainment. Players can choose from the US and British navies on the Allied side, and the Imperial Japanese Navy and Kriegsmarine on the Axis side.
Players log into their account and select from a number of vessels, both surface and submarine, earned throughout their game career. Upon selection, the game database then attempts to match players, regardless of ability, into short fifteen minutes skirmishes. There are several versions of skirmishes available; the most predominate being the annihilation of your enemies. Players are dropped into a small grid area and tasked.
The database matching is the heart of the game mechanics, and I found as a new player, regardless of the time of day, I was able to join a game. Several players of higher ranking reported that the match system was a little harder for their higher levels, and at times they may have to wait up to three minutes before they could be matched.
Within the game itself, the head up display is a simple display of speed, damage points, and a mini map of the area. Players hunt the area either individually or in team play, and attempt to destroy their opposition. At the end of each bout, whether successful in the objectives or not, players are rewarded with both ship and game experience, which is used to open up research avenues for bigger ships, more powerful weapons, or the training of their in game “crew”.
As a new player, the learning curve is a quick ascension. While essentially cannon fodder for established players, within an hour of game play I was able to gather enough control and understanding of the mechanics to advance to a basic battleship, which I then equipped with reinforced decking. Guns are the biggest component of the game, and the accuracy and volley of shots fired from higher-ranking players, still resulted in my ship being destroyed on the first shot. Ouch.
Team orders do not exist within the game, although the option is available for players to compete in their own fleets. Scheduled battles are posted within the forums, which are very easy to navigate, although at times sparse on content in some areas.
The system that the game was tested upon is a brand new Dell Windows 7 with a CPU 4.0GHz, 32 GB RAM and a 38-inch monitor. The computer was straight out of the box, with the usual Windows updated, and this was the first installed game played on the PC.
After downloading the game, there were a number of patches applied, and SDEnterNet appear very proactive in announcing updates to the game, as well as scheduling them in advance. Support for this game appears very proactive. The game never crashed or froze once when played either through a browser window or through steam. The program when run, changed the color scheme to Windows 7 basic, but there was never a graphic problem in game or after exiting. Players are first met with Notice screen, which outlines some of the previous issues with logging in. I never experienced any issues while logging in, even when I deliberately input incorrect player names and passwords.
Once logged in players are taken to their “Captain” screen, where in game personas are maintained. Players take on a role from one of four entities, the USA, British, German or Japanese navies. The selection of their player persona either opens or restricts which ships and technologies will be available as they advance through the game. The soundtrack makes an impressive first impression. Even while logging in, the background music has the big orchestral sound with a military theme, which might be associated with Hollywood films like Pearl Harbor or The Great Escape. There are several tracks used and while this is often an area overlooked by other games, SDEnterNet scored full marks for this aspect.
For the Subsim review, I played two different styles; one as a new player that did not spend a cent on in game purchases. The second where SDEnterNet credited my account to access some of the higher priced “goodies” (thank you.) Both styles of play provided their own advantages. As a player who did not make any in-game purchases, I chose the British Navy. The splash screen shows your ship in a dock surrounded by the facility infrastructures. From this screen, players can tweak their ship and crew for battle. The game provides opportunity for bonus experience by offering a number of missions within the game. The first vessel for the British Navy was a Town Class destroyer. As a stock starting vessel, it was grossly underpowered against existing players. However, within an hour of game play, I was able to advance to not only upgrade my vessel, but also add some refinements like desk armor and plating. The refinements are added as game and ship experience is earned, and provides a significant “fun factor”. The caveat on the equipment used is that they are only available for limited periods, having to be repurchased upon expiration and then reequipped. Once a refinement is added to a vessel, it cannot be transferred to another vessel when you advance.
My one and only criticism of the game was experienced at this point. The game offers a number of guides and tutorials on how to play the game. All the guides are put together in the same fashion, with accompanying screenshots. The only guide that created a problem was the anti aircraft-gunning tutorial. Even on a 38-inch monitor, the screen shot detail was difficult to visualize, and consequently, even after twenty hours of playing, I had still not shot down a single aircraft. I could not determine if all ships have the ability to shoot down aircraft or just larger vessels. The addition of anti aircraft guns through the subscriber’s account did not resolve the situation. It would not be until much later into the game that I determined that changing the shell type of ammunition would activate the anti aircraft guns.
Within ten hours of game play, I have moved up to the Duke of Edinburgh CA, but was dissatisfied with its movement, and returned to earn all my experience in a C Class Destroyer. Moderate success was had, not very many ships were sunk, but it provided ample enough game play for even a casual member. Unlike a lot of other MMO’s on the market today, even a basic “free” account provides opportunity for enjoyment, without being the sacrificial lamb in each battle. With no progressive campaign, this is the type of game that will appeal to a group of friends getting together for a weekend bout.
Having cut my teeth learning the basics on the free account, I changed over to and became a US Officer to utilize the credits supplied by SDEnterNet. Progression through the ranks was swifter despite still being cannon fodder. The ability to equip ships with plating and armaments placed me on an even keel early in the game, and it would be my recommendation to any new player to the game to make these purchases. I advanced up to the Indiana Battleship, which also turned liked a pig, before dropping back to develop my Captain with an Omaha Class Destroyer. In game banter revealed that most players have an “experience earning ship” which they use to “grind” their way, equipped with all the benefits of a paying account. Most players are aiming for a Carrier or the largest ship in the fleet, but surprisingly, the better players are not using those ships each session.
Sessions run at all hours of the day and night. Friday and Saturday nights (USA Eastern time) the wait for a match is slightly longer, but even during business hours in Europe, America and Australia, I found multiple players. English is the preferred language of the chat rooms, although a couple of fleets clearly represent their native language, as I discovered when trying to converse with some players in Cyrillic. The game system has an extensive score keeping and player ranking system that many online naval games of the past were sorely missing.
SDEnterNet have hit a winning combination here, between offering a taste on “free to play” accounts and revenue earning “paying” accounts. The mechanics of the game are extremely well balanced regardless of experience in the genre or not. This review just scratches the surface of all the many features and tangents this game offers. While I didn’t get to experience battle as a submariner within the game, there is enough incentive for me to come back, after writing this review, and drop some of my own money down to work towards that goal. The local community is very interactive, developing their own wiki on the game, and I did not run into any “PK’s” (people killers) who rendered me sunk from “friendly fire”.
For the Subsim community, if you’re a surface dweller player, this is the type of “jump in and out” game you have been asking for. For the sub mariners, there are plenty of targets, and based on what I saw in game play, the submarines can hold their own. Navy Field 2 is available in either stand-alone browser or through the Steam on line community. The game was given a rating of 6/10 by the Steam community. My impression is that’s about 2 points too low. This is the type of game that will hang around for years as players come and go, but will return to, based on the ease of access, the multiplayer aspect, and the personal modifications players can make to their vessels. With no structured campaign, instant gratification exists in fifteen-minute bouts, without the need to spend hours on eternal quests.
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