Silent Hunter VAfter months of silent
running, Ubisoft cracks the hatch on the latest U-boat sim
Jan. 22, 2010
by Neal Stevens
Part 2: Battle of the Atlantic
Subsim: What kind of
tutorial system will this game have compared to the others? You guys are
adding features to the game to make it easier to play for people that aren't
into submarine games, which should help appeal to people that aren't diehard
submarine players. What kind of tutorials will be available to learn how to
play the game?
Alex: So, the tutorial is based on a patrol. There's a guiding system to the
tutorial which will help you understand the basic mechanics of the
submarine, and what you have to do in order to sink ships, in that patrol.
So, even completing the tutorial we believe will be rewarding and it matters
in the program for the campaign, the tutorial is part of the dynamic
Subsim: It's not a separate part, not a training mission?
Alex: No. It's the initial part of the story in the campaign.
Subsim: Speaking of the campaign, when does the game start? When you start a
career, what year, what month does it start? September 1939?
Dan: Yes, the start of WWII.
Subsim: After war has been declared?
Dan: Yes, exactly.
Subsim: And as you build your career, you're gonna be in charge of a Type
VII U-boat at the very beginning, and you're gonna progress through the
torpedo failures, the Happy Times, Operation Drumbeat... all these phases of
the war until the end of the war in 1945?
Alex: You build your career through these phases, but the game ends in 1943.
Dan: The game actually ends after Black May, which we feel is the real
climax of the U-boat war. We tried to portray more carefully, in more
detail, the golden years of the U-boar war and what has led up to the real
Black May. Neal, If you remember a few months before May 1943, they had the
highest scoring month in the war, and then just a month later, they lost the
most submarines because the Allies introduced some real effective
countermeasures against U-boats. And then Doenitz was forced to retreat his
U-boats from the Atlantic because they never actually challenged the Allied
sea powers the same way as before. So for now, we felt we wanted to
concentrate on the early years and maybe later to give the same attention to
the the late war years we think should come with some professional approach.
For example, if you remember Silent
Hunter 3 we had the late war game with the Type XXI U-boat and everything,
but we never actually did portray the Allied side of the anti-submarine
warfare, as we should have. You know there are really advanced weapons that
were used, like aircraft dropped torpedoes and magnetic anomaly detectors
that if you wanted to do a real simulation of the late war years against
U-boats, you gotta have those in. So, we don't want to just put on the box
of the game 'oh, it's the whole war', it's the first part of the war really
where we are concentrating.
Subsim: So, what is the subtitle of this game going to be? Silent Hunter
5: Type VII U-boat simulator, The Early Years?
Alex: It's called 'Battle of the Atlantic'. I really like it, because it
gives a certain romantic feeling after the game, because the first years
were the success and just ends over there when the wheel turns for the
German Navy. It's pretty neat.
Subsim: I think I
understand, but I guess the question I know you are probably anticipating
from every single player, will the player have the option to continue on?
Like Dan said, the Fido and some of the other advanced weapons may not be in
the game, some of the technology advances may not be in the game but from
the perspective of just seeing numbers on the calendar change, and repeating
patrols, will there be any option or way to mod the game for the player to
think he's still playing until May 1945?
Dan: In the game, the way the game will be launched, there won't be any way
to be able to continue the campaign past 1943, but there is nothing stopping
the modders from keep adding more content, which comes afterwards. There's
no hardcore limit for how far you can play in the world, it's just how far
OUR campaign goes.
Subsim: I know you guys are probably anticipating this, this won't be any
surprise to you, if I publish this interview and I say, "The game campaign
spans September 1939 to May 1943 and ends"... I don't think you're gonna see
a lot of people saying, 'Oh great, I'm glad the campaign ends in late 1943'.
I was wondering if there are any optional ways to make the campaign continue
if the players want to do it.
Dan: No, there won't be any option for that, and given we've changed the
campaign system, how the ships work in the campaign, it's not possible just
to take the data from Silent Hunter 3 and put it on the field. And we think
for the player, and the playing experience, its' not a bad thing. You know
the game is called Battle of the Atlantic, and the battle was lost by the
Alex: And during the first years of the game, the number of missions you
have to accomplish, is much higher than the previous titles, even though the
game span is a shorter of period of time, the amount of richness that can be
found in the game is overwhelming compared to the previous games. In order
to achieve this density, we have to reduce the scope.
Subsim: So, this is going be a more specialized version of the typical
U-boat game then?
Dan: Yeah, it definitely is more specialized and we think that the level of
quality over the model is actually higher than before.
Subsim: Will the player begin
the campaign as the Captain, or as a lower rank officer?
The player will enter the game as an XO and will
complete an introductory part of the campaign. After that, he will be take
command of the U-boat as the Captain.
Subsim: Now its time for the dreaded 'W' word:
wolfpacks. This is something everyone's been talking about
since Silent Hunter 3, and we had this idea that maybe Ubisoft would release
an expansion to Silent Hunter 3 with wolfpacks.
Dan: We definitely have AI U-boats in the game. The level of interaction
with them right now is limited, but there is a role for them in the
campaign, so basically they will help the player accomplish his goals, but
that is all I can say about it right now.
Subsim: Will there be
shadowing objectives? Where the player gets a command from BdU to go in a
certain grid, to look for a convoy and shadow it, staying in contact but not
attack? And of course the objective is, the gameplay element is that the
player has to stay close enough to not lose the convoy but not so close that
the escorts detect him and drive him under and he can't maintain contact. Is
anything like that gonna be in the campaign?
Dan: Right now, it looks unlikely that we will have shadowing convoys in the
game. As in, having a very special mission for the players, but actually
it'll kinda work this way in the game: If the player shadows and keeps
contact with the convoy, then wolfpacks will actually attack the convoy,
too. There won't be as much interaction with BdU as opposed to reality.
Subsim: So, that's a more self-enforced thing, if he wants to do a shadowing
objective, he'll just have to do it on his own, the game won't reward him or
penalize him if he doesn't do it well.
Dan: The player doesn't have much direct interaction with the wolfpacks,
with the AI boats, but if he keeps shadowing convoys and keeping contact
with the convoys in the area that the wolfpacks operate, then the AI boats
will also join the battle. The wolfpack will have an operational area and if
you shadow convoys in that area, the wolfpacks will be able to react.
Subsim: That does sound like there is going to be a wolfpack type battle
that wasn't in Silent Hunter 3 at all, that if a player reports a convoy,
that AI U-boats may show up and attack, so a player might actually see a
ship torpedoed by a wolfpack U-boat.
Subsim: Will the game include Q-ships, where the player encounters a
merchant sailing alone, decides to save a torpedo and close for a gun
attack--and the merchant throws off covers and opens up with guns?
Alex: There are no dedicated Q-ships in the game but some merchants will be
armed to the teeth. However, the player will be able to see some German
merchant raiders in action.
Subsim: Will there be a calendar posted somewhere showing the lunar phases?
(like SH2 had)
Alex: No, there are no lunar phases displayed anywhere in the game...except
for on the moon itself.
Subsim: Remember when Silent Hunter 4 came out, there was a problem with
anti-aliasing, is that gonna be a problem this time?
Alex: No, it's perfect. (laughs). No, no problem with the anti-aliasing.
Subsim: So, this game wont have the jagged edges in the higher resolutions
and bigger screens this time?
Alex: No, there shouldn't be any problems.
Subsim: What kind of multiplayer can we expect in SH5?
Alex: Co-operative mode.
Subsim: Essentially the same as Silent Hunter 3 then?
Subsim: Modding, everybody
asked me about this, the games before have been open to a certain extent to
mod, and modding is a big thing, a lot of credibility on modding. How open
is this game to modding?
Alex: Modding? Let's say like this: the modders will be extremely happy with
Silent Hunter 5. It's quite a bit more open than the previous, and you
surely will find some nice surprises.
Subsim: That sounds good. Any kind of construction kits?
Alex: Not really, the file types will be more open.
Subsim: If Silent Hunter 5 is a commercial success, and let's say that it
sold well, and the corporate office is happy, what is the next step? Another
add-on, with additional U-boats, campaigns, maybe as DLC, downloadable
Alex: Well, we are thinking about that but it's much too early to say, we
have to first of all see how the game performs. We'd need also to gather
some feedback once the game is out, to see what the community
says, so we can focus our attention on this also.
Subsim: Last question: copy protection; what kind of copy protection scheme
will SH5 use? Some kind of serial number, a program, or will the game be
linked to Steam, or Uplay?
Alex: We cannot comment on that either right now.
Subsim: Is it under discussion or is it just finalized and you aren't going
to go into details?
Dan: We... cannot comment on that right now. (laughs).
Subsim: I appreciate your time, guys.
Okay, thank you, Neal!
>>Click here to for part 1 of this
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