Online since 1997

Silent Hunter V
After months of silent running, Ubisoft cracks the hatch on the latest U-boat sim
Jan. 22, 2
010 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 campaign.

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?

Dan: (chuckles)

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 German U-boats.

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?

Alex: 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.



Cry wolfpack

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.

Dan: Yeah.

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?

Dan: Yeah.

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 content?

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 co
mmunity 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 interview

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See also:

          The 2009 Best of Subsim Awards
     What kind of subsim skipper are you? Sub skipper Quiz
     The 2009 SUBSIM Werewolf Hunt
     SUBSIM Article Library




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