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Armored Brigade II - Dev Diary #3: Infantry Improvements

Published on January 15, 2024

Greetings, Commanders! We hope you had a wonderful holiday season!

In modern warfare, the tank is often hailed as the 'king of the battlefield,' symbolising the ultimate instrument for achieving and maintaining land dominance. However, it often meets its match in the form of a humble infantryman, patiently waiting in his foxhole. Infantry play an enduring and versatile role, often outsmarting more mechanised units in complex terrain. This tactical finesse and adaptability earn them the title of 'queen of the battlefield', effectively complementing the sheer power of armoured fighting vehicles. In recognition of this pivotal role, we have decided to significantly enhance the representation and features of infantry in Armored Brigade II, a well-deserved upgrade that acknowledges their crucial impact on the battlefield.

Finnish Jäger infantry squad fighting the Soviets in the woods

The first, and aesthetically most noticeable change, is the dynamic visual portrayal of infantry units. The previously used tightly packed 2D infantry sheets have been replaced by groups of individual soldiers. The decision to use sleek, stylised models was deliberate and serves a twofold purpose: firstly, to align with the overall style of the graphics, and secondly, to facilitate modding and enhance performance, as there can be hundreds of pixeltruppen on the screen at any given time. While this change is primarily cosmetic, as the underlying abstract squad logic remains intact, it significantly enhances player immersion. Soldiers will now appear more lifelike and distinct on the battlefield, moving and interacting in a manner that more accurately reflects real-world infantry tactics and behaviours. Most notably, they respond adaptively to their surroundings and given commands: leisurely walking, running or adopting an alert combat pace, firing and manoeuvring, and even crawling or dashing when under fire. These updates offer a subtler, yet more authentic, depiction of battlefield scenarios.

GDR Grenztruppen patrolling

However, the changes extend beyond the superficial. Given that infantry excels in close-quarters combat, riflemen are more effectively employed for manoeuvring rather than engaging targets at long range. This combat dynamic is not one-dimensional: for instance, static infantry, in particular, are not easily spotted and eliminated from great distances. To improve this aspect, we have introduced a few new mechanisms, with 'neutralisation' being the foremost. Unlike the existing pinned down and seeking cover state, this means that an infantry unit under fire must be re-spotted under specific conditions, especially when subjected to concentrated fire at range. However, this does not negate the proximity spotting rules; if an enemy unit is close enough, these rules still enable the detection of the neutralised unit. This interaction with layered engagement distances fundamentally transforms how infantry is approached in the game. It makes engagements more nuanced and reflective of actual combat situations, ensuring that each engagement is not just a contest of firepower but a thoughtful exercise.

When advancing, however, the challenge for the infantry lies in getting close to the enemy. The primary mission of infantrymen is to close in on the enemy, aiming to either destroy or capture them. However, accomplishing this is easier said than done, as the assault is possibly the most challenging task an infantryman will face. In this phase, he must leave any protective cover behind, expose himself to hostile fire, and advance directly against the (often stoutly) defended position. By using covering fire and movement, the attackers may be able to get close enough to engage in hand-to-hand combat. At this stage, they could fix bayonets, throw grenades, and use small arms at close range to eliminate any remaining active defenders. And we tried to emulate that through close combat mechanics, where, under determined criteria such as suppression, morale, and visibility, an infantry squad may attempt to resolve the engagement by going face to face with the enemy.

A pillbox view of firing at advancing infantry

Long-standing players of Armored Brigade will likely recognize the cumulative benefits that these changes bring, particularly when combined with information sharing and some other improvements we have not yet disclosed. This might not come as a surprise, considering your past insights have been vital in shaping these improvements, and we are grateful for your continued support and enthusiasm. While we believe these adjustments massively improve the tactical experience, we continue to rely on your feedback to guide further refinements. Undoubtedly, both leg and the newly introduced motorised infantry will greatly benefit from the extra care given to their tactical capabilities and interactions within the game. However, this is just the beginning, as there is still much work to be done.

US mech infantry section firing an M47 Dragon ATGM to destroy a T-80BV equipped with a mine plow

Stay tuned for more insights and updates in the next development diary. Until then, commanders, roll out the tanks!

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