Welcome to our 3rd official dev diary, which happily coincides with ICBM’s 3rd anniversary! That’s right, 3 years ago on November 17th, 2020, ICBM hit the stores. For those of you who have been with us for a while, thanks for holding on all this time and making the world a more radioactive place. This could be an opportunity to get all sappy and sentimental about the past and all the good times we’ve had, turning cities into parking lots and glowing charcoal, but we can do that later. This is a dev diary after all, so let’s not focus on the past 3 years, let’s focus on what’s next! Let’s talk about the sequel, and let’s talk about NAVAL WARFARE!
Having a powerful navy is a hallmark for any great power. Being able to control the sea allows you to project power all over the world, and in the era of nuclear power and atomic weapons, that’s never been more true, if the status and prestige of aircraft carriers and ballistic missile submarines is any indicator. Naval warfare is a big topic, so let’s (literally) start at the surface, and make our way down.
The surface warships in ICBM: Escalation start with early post-WWII designs. Old-school, brute force brawlers that rely on heavy armor and huge guns to come out on top. As your naval technology advances, your ships will continuously get smarter and more tactful. The cold war introduced a great many new technologies and warships were quick to pick up on many of them. By upgrading the base designs of your ships, you can pave the way for individual weapon systems like cruise missiles, SAMs, CIWS, and eventually ballistic missile defences, laser weapons and even railguns. The performance of a warship depends heavily on what equipment it has at its disposal, but the platform itself matters just as much!
An early carrier group. All conventionally powered gunfighters, including the plane.
The WWII-era designs that emerged at the beginning of the cold war were not well-adapted to the concept of fighting with missiles, and likewise, the designs of the 1980s weren’t expecting to be wielding lasers either. Upgraded hull designs provide better survivability and speed, but more importantly, access to better weapons in greater volumes. Your first ships will barely be able to use missiles at all, but as they advance they’ll be slinging them by the dozens. Each generation packs a bigger punch than the last, as you go from the last generation of gunfighters all the way to the first generation of stealth ships.
Stealth ships, anti-air lasers and railgun fire. THE FUTURE IS NOW!
The balance of power between the types of surface ships is similar to ICBM 1, but in many ways they’re much more capable than before. Carriers can project air power anywhere that’s even close to a coastline, and as we mentioned in the last dev diary, the multirole fighters they carry can pack a serious punch. Carriers also now have access to electronic warfare aircraft which are armed with anti-radiation missiles for SEAD missions, so they can pick on enemy air defences. Not only that, they also come with naval helicopters for reconnaissance and anti-submarine support, as well as the ability to deploy special forces, for all sorts of wetwork.
Cruisers retain their role as the heavy hitters at sea, armed with a huge compliment of guided missiles for land-attack and anti-ship missions, while also now sporting a sonar and limited anti-submarine weapons for self-defence, but most importantly, access to nuclear cruise missiles, to turn naval engagements and strike missions into a much shorter, much messier affair. Meanwhile, destroyers maintain their role as the fast, versatile all-rounders that excel at tracking enemy submarines, providing air defence, and now, with the addition of landing ships and resupply ships, making sure that unarmed vessels think twice before going out without an escort.
So where does that leave submarines? Similarly to surface ships, submarines can be upgraded through several generations, starting with basic post-war, boat-hulled diesel-electric designs. After that, they adopt the teardrop hull and nuclear propulsion, and become faster, quieter and more dangerous with each new iteration. By nature of their work, submarines don’t have as many weapons to choose from, but a savvy naval commander can keep them well out of sight and use them to wreak havoc at sea.
Danger isn’t always apparent. Make sure your sonar is up to snuff.
Attack submarines (i.e. the ‘normal’ ones) have been revised, and have taken on their rightful role as superlative hunter-killers, capable of easily dispatching anything at sea in a one-on-one fight. Though they’re quite expensive and still vulnerable to anti-submarine helicopters, destroyer patrols and of course, other submarines, their unrivaled stealth and powerful anti-ship weapons make them terrifying opponents for other vessels. They can also covertly deploy special forces on enemy shores, allowing them to silently wreak havoc on land and sea, and also have the privileged position of being the only unit that can field nuclear torpedoes, making them especially deadly as naval combatants.
Cruise missile submarines, also known as SSGNs, have a very apt name. They’re submarines that fire cruise missiles. Lots of cruise missiles. Although they may not be as stealthy as attack submarines or as deft in a duel, their ability to suddenly surface and saturate a target with guided missiles should absolutely not be underestimated, especially when they have the option to field tactical nuclear weapons as well.
And lastly, of course, are the SSBNs. Ballistic missile submarines. The boomers. Naturally, SSBNs are some of the most dangerous units you’ll encounter in ICBM: Escalation. Combining civilization-ending firepower with stealth, SSBNs can be relied upon to survive an initial nuclear exchange, and then emerge from the depths to deliver a devastating retaliation strike. Being able to easily reposition means they can also maneuver around missile defence systems and deliver a devastating surprise attack. They are, however, expensive to field, and the difference between one staying hidden or being found can seriously change the strategic balance. So, it might be worth doubling-up on submarine patrols and naval helicopters if you think your enemies might be investing in them, and you should also take care not to lose your own either!
Don’t you see? Surviving an initial attack gives SSBNs options. You can attack a city and take one million lives, or attack enemy launch sites and save ten million lives. Use your imagination!
And, as briefly mentioned earlier, naval warfare is even more important now that transport ships are here to bring armies into the fray. Opposing armies can load onto landing ships and invade from the sea, so if your coastlines are left undefended, you might be opening yourself up to an unwelcome visit! Conversely, you can also leverage your own naval forces to open up a beachhead for your armies and also ensure they have a clean run on their invasion routes. If you didn’t get much use out of carriers in ICBM 1, you might change your mind after you bomb an enemy army into the stone age and annex some oceanfront property on your enemy’s continent!
The navy makes it possible to fight on the beaches, on the landing grounds, and in the fields, and in the streets.
And that concludes our third dev diary. Let us know what you think and what’s got you the most excited. We’d love to hear your feedback on this! We’ll be back with another dev diary in a bit. Thanks again, and happy 3rd birthday, ICBM!