We’re going to be covering a few different things in this dev diary, but all of them have one common bond: They all relate to weapons of mass destruction, and more specifically, the thing that makes a WMD a WMD. Let’s talk about WARHEADS!
Nuclear weapons are the obvious starting point for this discussion, so we’ll start there. In ICBM: Escalation, you’ll need to develop a nuclear program and research increasingly sophisticated warhead designs in order to build up a respectable stockpile and ensure that your nukes have the heft they need to efficiently annihilate your opposition.
First, you’ll have to research how to build nukes in the first place. Every arms race needs a starting line! Having nukes may seem like a given in a nuclear war game, but this is a feat that, in almost 80 years after the trinity test, only 9 (possibly 10) countries have successfully pursued and accomplished. After developing rudimentary fission-based weapons, the door will open to basic thermonuclear devices, and then to increasingly efficient and modern designs. Sufficiently advanced warhead technology will pave the way for deadly MIRV systems, as well as specialized nuclear EMP weapons, which can utterly paralyze the civilian economy, and diabolical salted bombs that produce insidious amounts of fallout. Warhead technology is all about packing a bigger punch into a smaller package. If you’re planning on a more conventionally-oriented strategy, this might not be as important, but if you want to rain fire, you’ll need to make sure your warheads are up to the task!
[i]A salted weapon is a nuclear device designed to produce increased amounts of radioactive fallout by transmuting a surrounding material into a radioactive isotope. There is no public record of one ever being built because of the danger they pose and their repulsiveness as a concept.[/i]
There’s more to having a nuclear arsenal than just designing a bomb. You can’t put just anything in a nuke, and weapons-grade plutonium doesn’t grow on trees. Sourcing weaponizable material is a major hurdle for any nuclear program, and it’s one you’ll have to face as well. The production efficiency system from the first ICBM is making a return, except this time, it’s up to you to decide how high it gets and how quickly. By default, you’ll have access to basic first-generation uranium enrichment, which is very slow and inefficient, but you’ll be able to research new enrichment methods that will increase your nuclear production capabilities and let you build atomic weapons more quickly and efficiently.
[i]With advanced warheads, you can develop some particularly virulent MIRVs and have unfathomable horror at your fingertips… Of course, building them isn’t cheap either![/i]
Alternatively, if you’re feeling impatient or don’t want to invest as much time and effort into a WMD program, you’ll also be able to cheaply and efficiently build chemical and biological weapons to wreak havoc on enemy armies and population centers. Chemical weapons will devastate enemy troops and are dirt-cheap to produce from the start, whereas bioweapons can decimate enemy cities over time and can eventually overpower lesser nuclear weapons as a casualty driver. Take note, bioweapons don’t discriminate, so you should think twice before dropping one close to home…
[i]Chemical agents can be used to slow down armies and inflict serious casualties. They’re also much more accessible than nuclear weapons, and just as liable to make you a war criminal.[/i]
So, with the (very real) difficulties and costs associated with developing a nuclear program, and the amplified threat posed by enemy armies and conventional forces, you’ll now have to juggle between developing your nuclear program and your delivery systems while also keeping the enemy out of your borders. How aggressively you choose to pursue nuclear weapons is up to you, but your conventional capabilities might suffer for it. This is where things get really interesting: Do you choose a doctrine that relies on nuclear deterrence, or do you lean on your armies and conventional weapons to keep you safe? And what does that mean if you end up in a war with somebody who’s taken a different path? How far can you push them, or how far can they push you? And who comes out on top if things escalate?
Developing nuclear weapons and their delivery systems is much more in-depth and intensive than before, and it’s a more difficult investment to make with the threat posed by invading armies. But, the overwhelming destructive power that a well-developed nuclear arsenal provides is an undeniable asset, especially if you can leverage it to decisively destroy your opponents. And if you get into a full-scale conflict, you’ll be in serious trouble if your nuclear forces aren’t up to the task!
And that wraps up our fourth dev diary. Hopefully it piqued your interest and gave you a bit of insight on what to expect. As always, let us know what you think! We love to hear everyone’s thoughts and we’re always listening. Until next time!