Yesterday at PAX East I had the opprotunity to sit down with one of the developers behind Making History II, a grand strategy game ala Civilization, set during the WWII. You may remember MHII's predecessor, Making History, a solid (if not genre-shattering) title. MHII appears to be more of the same, with additional polish, improved AI, and a whole new multiplayer system. With over 190 different playable nationalities (everything from Germany to Kurdistan) MHII will allow you to try out every possible permutation of history. The game can start off in 1933, 36, or 39. Victory conditions can range from ideological (make the whole world communist!) to nation-specific (re-create the Roman Empire!) to military (duh).
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While full-on conquest games of MHII are likely to take many, many hours, playing as a smaller nation will allow for much shorter games. Victory for Poland could be as simple as merely surviving a set amount of time. For those of you looking for a challenge, victory without any violent conflict will be possible. You can fund and raise rebellions in otheer countries, as well as push for political change in nations near to you. Russia could conceivably win the game by fomenting Communist rebellions across Europe, never once sending troops outside their own borders. While the AI nations are program to act as they did in real history, they are not bound entirely by this programming. Every turn the AI will re-evaluate the situation. If the US invades Mexico or Canada, it's unlikely any other democratic powers will be willing to ally with them.
The multiplayer is the most exciting aspect of MHII. Normally coordinating online games in grand strategy titles is a huge pain in the ass. You have to get everyone online at the same time to re-start things, a task that gets more and more difficult with every passing day. In MHII, you'll be able to play much more convenient games. Simply log in, take your turn, and log out until your fellow players finish their own turns. You will be notified (likely via email) when your turn comes around again. The person who creates the game can decide how long each person's turn window should be. Anything from five minutes, to five days is possible.
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When you conquer another country, you'll be given several options. Annex them, create a puppet state, or turn them into a colony. Each of these options will have different outcomes based on what nation you play and who you conquer.. Many of the super-weapons that were seen near the end of WWII (aka, German jet fighters, super-carriers, super-tanks) will be usable. Nuclear weapons and ICBMs will be usable too, closer to the end of the war. Also, there are zeppelins. Making History II will cost $39.99 and it is available for pre-order now.