The spiritual successor of Panzer General returns with a sequel that manages to make further improvements to an already outstanding title.
Type: Single-player, Online PvP
Developer: Flashback Games
Publisher: Slitherine Ltd.
Release date: 19 March, 2020
Panzer Corps is an absolutely amazing tactical war game set in World War II that reigns as king in its niche genre. Strategy games have the benefit of greater longevity than titles in most other genres, though Panzer Corps seems to be timeless as age hasn’t tarnished its entertainment value in the slightest over the near-decade since its release.
When I saw the announcement for Panzer Corps 2, I was immediately on-board the hype train. Lucky for me, the train made it to the station without going off the rails and the time that I’ve put into it has been a blast. Against the odds, Flashback Games has managed to release a sequel that improves on the original game without losing anything in the process.
Panzer Corps 2 has an improved overall experience due to some changes in the way that campaigns work and a rework of most units overall. The brand new addition here is customizing your own general’s name, portrait, strengths, and weakness. There are fifteen strengths and weaknesses each, with abilities ranging from increased experience to the inability to have aircraft in your forces. A point system allows you to tailor these to your personal style as each strength costs a point to acquire and each weakness rewards you with one for taking it. I liked this new feature and I can certainly see it adding some replay value even if my first run is being done with a general with a single strength and no weaknesses.
The differing tiers of victory from Panzer Corps have been removed for its sequel as there is either victory or defeat now, decisive and marginal victories are no longer used. This means that branching campaigns that offer an altered version of history thanks to your accomplishments are no longer a feature. However, these have been replaced with choices between different approaches beforehand that offer a variety of benefits and challenges, as well as a variety of scenarios. For example, you can decide to join the northern or southern invasions of Poland, the former offering useful prototypes while the latter grants bonus prestige for bolstering your forces. Although I did enjoy changing history with decisive victories, I’ve enjoyed these new features enough that I give them the slight win, if for no other reason than the replay value that differing scenario paths offer.
Core slots have been adapted into Panzer Corps 2 and will inevitably alter the composition of your forces. These slots have a cap that will grow through the campaign but more powerful units will use a number of these slots, units are not simply one-to-one to bring into combat. You’ll have to gauge the task ahead of you and decide whether you want to bring a few powerful units, plenty of less threatening ones, or decide on a combination somewhere in between these extremes. This is another touch that I support and one that many players from the previous entry thought would be a great addition.
Units themselves feel better all-around and the new and improved UI makes it easier to manage them on the field of battle. Many new capabilities have been added that may make you rethink certain tried-and-true strategies of the past thanks to brand new options that can really turn the tide of a battle under the right circumstances. Upgrades are still invaluable as some specific types are simply better than others, though each unit type itself is now of use. I’ve found myself adding a wider variety of units to my corps than I used instead of mostly sticking with a few favorites.
Aircraft are now based at an airfield at any given time and will automatically return to it at the start of your turn. Under normal circumstances, you no longer have to worry about losing them due to flying them outside of their fuel limits. Weather effects will still restrict them though anti-aircraft weapons only suppress them instead of destroying them unless you opt into the anti-aircraft focus as your general’s strength. You’ll still want to watch out for those pesky fighters that are waiting to ruin your day though.
Another of the many additions that are noticeable for veterans is the bonus given to units when attacking an enemy that a reconnaissance unit is adjacent to. I’m sure plenty of us liked our highly mobile eyes in the past entry but this really kicks them into a highly valuable unit that can boost the damage that your other units are putting out. I felt a spike of adrenaline every time I unleashed a barrage of artillery fire on an enemy unfortunate enough to be cuddled up next to them.
Final Thoughts Pre-Release
Panzer Corps 2 has exceeded my already high expectations so far. The mechanical changes have been superb and improved on areas that make the game that much more enjoyable and the visuals are a great addition that is several levels above what I expect in the genre. The story may be the same (its World War II from the German perspective, what did you expect?) though the campaign has been touched up enough that it feels like a similar but fresh experience the way that any good sequel should. I look forward to putting way too many hours crushing those inferior allies into the dust beneath the tread of my Tigers.