In the ever-evolving world of gaming, it's a rarity to witness a game that continues to captivate and improve years after its initial release. However, Order of Battle: World War II, the renowned strategy game, defies expectations once again with its Version 10 update (read the changelog here).
This update is not your typical patch. The development team has taken player feedback to heart and delivered a series of campaign reworks that seamlessly integrate popular features from later DLCs into the earlier content. This means that players can now experience the thrill of battling skinned AI units in campaigns like Sandstorm, Winter War, the early Soviet DLCs, and the entire German trilogy. The inclusion of AI commanders and unit types from subsequent releases also adds an extra layer of challenge and variety to these battles, offering a fresh and engaging gameplay experience. The update doesn't stop at campaign adjustments. The team has diligently addressed and resolved several lingering issues in both Single Player and Multiplayer maps. Additionally, certain Multiplayer maps have undergone extensive reworking to ensure a more enjoyable and balanced experience for competitive play. These changes enhance the game's overall quality and offer players a refined tactical environment to test their skills.
However, one of the most interesting features introduced with this patch are the Multiplayer Ratings. To add an element of competition and progression, Order of Battle now features a brand-new multiplayer rating system. This Elo-based ranking system assigns a persistent rating to players who participate in ranked games. Similar to chess rankings, defeating opponents with higher ratings will yield greater points, while victories against lower-ranked players will provide fewer rating gains. Players can easily track their own rating and compare it to others through the in-game Games List or the Ratings list on the official website.
Moreover, players can now choose to start their matches as "paired" games, mirroring the format seen in tournaments. This feature creates two matches for each player, with one game where they assume the role of Player 1 and the other as Player 2. This new approach provides a fair and comprehensive test of skill, ensuring a thrilling and balanced competition. Additionally, players can opt for ranked matches, where the outcome contributes to their Order of Battle multiplayer rating, further fueling the competitive spirit.
We discussed these improvements with the Slitherine Executive Producer: David Sharrock.
Hello David, what motivated the decision to release such a substantial update, Version 10, after eight years since the game's initial release?
DS: “Order of Battle: World War II has never stopped evolving, all through the last 8 years. Working together, Slitherine, The Artistocrats, our corps of Scenario creators and massed ranks of community players, creators and modders have kept the game fresh and alive.
But whilst the multiplayer community has continued to be active and engaged in both PBEM challenges and tournaments, we had lagged behind in our support for the latest server tools from Slitherine’s internal tech team. We felt there was an opportunity here to both catch up with the latest tech and also be the game that spearheads the implementation of some great new features.”
Can you elaborate on the transition to the updated PBEM servers? How does this align with other popular games like Field of Glory 2 and Panzer Corps 2, and how does it enhance the multiplayer experience in Order of Battle?
DS: “A few years ago, around the time of the release of Panzer Corps 2, we rolled out a new release of our PBEM++ system which we internally refer to as Version 3. This upgrade opened up new possibilities for us and allowed our development partners to better support their players with both Asynchronous and Live multiplayer functionality.
Order of Battle has continued to have a great fanbase for both single-player modded content (see the recent What’s Your Mod stream for example) and also for asynchronous multiplayer battles. We’ve continued to add and update the multiplayer maps that are available in the game to keep support for that community and it felt like a natural update for the game was to take the leap and upgrade to Version 3 of PBEM++.
The most noticeable opportunity was that we have been able to take the lead and be the first game to implement support for the new Multiplayer Rating System.
How does the new Multiplayer Rating System work, and what inspired the decision to incorporate an Elo-based ranking system? Will this affect the Slitherine Tournament strategy?
DS: “Like in games such as Chess, the Slitherine Multiplayer Rating System provides a relative rating for our players in multiplayer. It is calculated with an algorithm that is based on the Elo rating system. Whenever players play Ranked challenges or take part in Ranked tournaments their results will lead to a change in their relative ratings.
This allows players to not only have a persistent leaderboard to contribute to with their games but also a guide as to the relative skill of their opponents and more of an idea of the kind of threat they’re facing!
We will also be adding Ranked Tournaments where games will contribute to the Multiplayer Rating System and we’re working towards new Tournament upgrades where we’ll be using the Multiplayer Rating as a factor when making the tournament draws and also new styles of tournament!
Oh, and by the way, don’t worry if you don’t want to be part of a ranked leaderboard, you’re still more than free to play unranked games at your leisure!”
SCREENSHOTS OF UPDATED MAPS/AI SKINS FROM SINGLEPLAYER CAMPAIGNS: