REVIEW: Unity of Command II – Blitzkrieg

REVIEW: Unity of Command II – Blitzkrieg

Experience the rush of lightning war

Released: Steam
Type: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Genre: Strategy
Developer: 2×2 Games, Croteam
Publisher: 2×2 Games
Release date: 5 Nov, 2020

Unity of Command IIs first expansion deals with the early parts of the war, when the allied nations though that Germany was nigh unstoppable. As the Germans you’ll get to invade Poland, France, Norway and the Balkans. Can you be successful as Germany was historically, or will the allies be able to halt your advance before it even got started?

As the Germans you’ll be facing a wide variety of foes, from the unprepared and poorly equipped Polish to the far better trained English, and deal with the legendary Char B1 bis, a tank that can spark hour long debates among history enthusiasts about if it was any good or not.

The mostly flat terrain of Poland makes it hard for them to defend against the aggressive German forces

Unity of Command II – Blitzkrieg builds upon the already strong foundation found in the original Unity of Command II, but portrays a slightly different kind of warfare. The emphasis on keeping units in supply and trying to cut off supply from the enemy is still here, but the opposition is different. In the core game you were mostly fighting Germans, which were generally well trained and equipped, so your units were roughly equivalent to the opponents, but in Blitzkrieg the gap in unit quality is bigger, particularly in the early parts where you go up against Poland. This encourages a different kind of playstyle where you need to smash through the enemy quickly, using hard hitting units and airplanes and then encircle them.

Blitzkrieg brings with it a slew of new units, over 50 according to the developers. This number seems accurate, as there’s a lot of nations that are represented here, including all the main ones like France and Poland, but also nations that did not see any real active fighting during World War 2, like Sweden, and all of them have the basics covered, like different types of infantry, and that really adds up, but there are of course units here that are more exciting than just bog standard infantry, like the CV33 tankette (or if you were to believe the Italians, light tank) and the SOMUA S35 as well as some early war German designs. The new units don’t radically alter how you play the game by themselves, but they still add some interesting variety and running into the heavy French tanks, which you really don’t have the guns to deal with, can be mildly panic inducing, as it should be.

The 13 level long campaign (there’s more than 13 scenarios but the campaign will be 13 levels long) of Blitzkrieg is quite varied. It starts easy, with the first level being easier than that of the base game, but once you get to Belgium and France, the difficulty really starts ramping up. Poland has mostly flat, open maps with rivers blocking your progress, while Norway has a long and rocky coastline with narrow roads and a lot of choke points. France again is more open and once you get down to the Balkans it gets rockier again, though you’re not as limited in where you can go as in Norway.

Norway might not have a large army, but the terrain is on their side

Your biggest enemy is the clock on most levels. Side objectives often have very tight turn timers, but even if you ignore those there’s still a somewhat strict turn limit on the higher difficulties. A tight turn limit is something that some people enjoy, as it forces you to play aggressively and take the initiative, and some hate, and for those who hate it, the tight turn limits in Blitzkrieg will be a major downside. The base game got at least one mod that increased the turn limit, but at the time of writing (2 days after launch) there’s none for Blitzkrieg.

If you do well, and complete certain secondary objectives within the turn limit, you can chose to take different routes through the campaign. Instead of going to Norway you can, if you did well in Poland, head straight for France. These alternative campaign routes offers both replay value and an increased level of difficulty.

Let’s not forget the scenario editor. Unity of Command II has a robust scenario editor and all these new units and factions will give people who enjoy tinkering with that a whole lot more to play with and it might be worth keeping an eye on the steam workshop in the coming months to see what pops up there.

Smash through the defenses of the Netherlands fast enough and you can force them to surrender, making the invasion of Belgium and France easier

Closing Thoughts

Blitzkrieg is an expansion that might not revolutionize how Unity of Command II is played, but it’s a great addition to an already very solid game. The new levels are tough, but not unfair and because you’re going up against such varied opposition, after all fighting the Polish is really nothing like fighting the British, the game never gets stale.

Blitzkrieg really is close to being the perfect expansion, it takes what made the original game great, and then adds more of it, while at the same time doing small improvements here and there. It’s also surprisingly cheap. People who want more Unity of Command II owe it to themselves to get this one as soon as they can.

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November 2020

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