Blitzkrieg: Burning Horizon
Tell us about the 18-Mission Campaign. That’s pretty big for an add-on or a sequel.
Burning Horizon has a huge 18-mission campaign centred around General Rommel.
‘With all the historical material I have collected I could write a whole book! Originally we had planned only 12 Rommel missions. But even after nights of heated discussion we couldn’t agree on the 12 best ideas, so we had no choice but to go for it and use all of the material. That is how we ended up with 18 nissions, spanning 4 years of his campaigns from the famous wooden tank decoys at El Agheila to the Normandie battles.”
What about the Asian Battles?
„The Asian battles are individual missions. We did think about developing a whole Asian campaign, but as the war in the Pacific was mainly fought in the air and on water there wasn’t too much scope for bringing in new vehicles and tanks, and we thought a complete campaign might lack the rapid action the Blitzkrieg gamers liked.
„Historically the Japanese – not having access to superior weapons or tanks – won their battles with a Blitzkrieg strategy by gaining air supremacy first before using their planes to support their ground troops. The challenge for us was to see how clever we could make the AI of the Japanese troops so that their small tanks with only 25 mm armour would still pose a real danger to the player’s units. I think that worked very well. People whom we tested the ‚Hell of Singapore’ mission on found it very challenging.”
„When we asked ourselves what the weakest point in Blitzkrieg was we found that the AI was lacking. We wanted to write the scripts and AI so that the computer would react like a human opponent who would panic and flee in the face of overwhelming odds, or who learns and becomes stronger.”
What about new units and features?
“In terms of new units there were a few I felt were necessary to keep the game historically correct. For example during the Normandie battle the French units used a different strategy than the Americans – and built a ‚French Sherman’ tank. Of course there are others. You’ll just have to wait and see…”
“Also we’ve improved many of the weapons. For example in Blitzkrieg the Stuka plane didn’t have the armour they should have had. And their shilouette was too similar to that of a JU 52. So the Stuka wasn’t quite as effective as it was meant to be. This has been improved and now there is also a Stuka plane with a 37mm Anti-Tank cannon and a ‚fighter ace’ version to boot.”
“In researching for the game we spoke to one of the few still living survivors of the Africa Corps. Those who are into historical detail won’t be disappointed in Burning Horizon. This veteran told us that they used the armoured Hanomag SdKfz 251 vehicle to drive through heavy machine gun fire right to the enemy positions, jumped off and stormed the positions. So we changed the Sdfz 251 to give it better armour and allow it to cope better with the terrain. And to make sure that the mine fields of Tobruk and Bir Hacheim don’t become an unsurmountable deathtrap it now can clear mines, too.”
„Many of the new features and elements lie in the detail, perfect for the gamers who loved Blitzkrieg. I think they will have great fun in discovering them.”
„A small feature which I particularly like: At the end of a campaign you can upgrade the artillery, first to a wasp and then later to a whirlwind. After a long campaign and dozends of destroyed tanks you end up with artillery units which have been promoted so often that you hardly can tell anymore what their stripes stand for.”
Build your own army
„A lot of the decisions a commander has to make don’t only concern the battle but also which units to put to good use where. Rommel put great emphasis on selecting the right units for the right combat situation and we did reflect that in some of the ‚Burning Horzion’ missions.”
Kasserine pass: Tiger or Pz IV
„Rommel did use the PzIV and MGs in the battle at the Kasserine pass opening fire on the Americans from the slopes.
Gamers can choose their units for this mission and either use Pz IV’s and MG units (historically accurate) or use Tiger tanks (fictitious).
Either way the mission is exciting, but depending on your weapons of choice how the battle develops will be very different. Not everybody is so into history that they want to see every last detail to be correct, so we thought we give gamers the choice.”
King Tiger, Mouse and other beasties
„Now we’re getting to a point where I don’t want to give too much away. ”
„Just one thing: We spent a lot of time making ‚Burning Horizon’ as historically accurate as possible. And just like Pershing tanks only appeared from January 1945 on the battle field Rommel never did have a Mouse tank for his campaigns.”
„To keep it accurate and exciting we are giving the player the resources and units available at the time – for example the Pz III J and Pz IV F2 “Mark Special” do make their appearance in the campaign with the arrival of a supply convoy.”
„Let me just say that there are rumors that say there was a King Tiger tank on the battlefield in Normandy. You’ll just have to wait and see.”
„Blitzkrieg was supposed to be a game in which intelligence and courage are rewarded, but sometimes it turned into a kind of chess game where the opponent sits in his fortified positions, neither side achieves air superiority, and daring tank maneuvres lead to desaster.
Real war is different: speed and courage did make a difference and could turn the table against an overwhelming enemy by demoralising him or even causing him to flee.
At the beginning of the Rommel campaign the troups of the 7th panzer division face an enemy who can be beaten through speed, well thought-out strategy or ruses. This enemy can be demoralised, he may even flee or surrender.
In the final battle at the Normandy beaches the gamer commands the 21st panzer division and stands against an enemy who has leaned from his mistakes, who compensates for his weaknesses and uses his strengths to best advantage.”
„The AI has been vastly improves – as I said before – to resemble amore human enemy and thus make the experience much more realistic.”
Enemies surrender – eventually
„The Blitzkrieg of 1940 in the West would have been impossible without enemies who surrender.
The Approach of Rommel did cause panic, sometimes he only had to arrive with a small division to capture enemy positions. Burning Horizon won’t make it that easy for the gamer, but there are some strong enemy units who – under certain circumstances – will surrender or flee.”
„The Italian units to play quite an important role. Rommel did formally report to the Commando Supremo and the Italian panzer division Ariete was part of his Africa Corps. Ariete was actually one of Rommel’s best units.
In the game the core units are German units, but the Italians do play a part. Especially the Italian Semovente is an interesting piece of weaponry that should be put to good use.”
From France to Africa
„The campaign is modelled completely on Rommel’s campaign, i.e. with the 7th panzer division you battle your way through Belgium on to France. The most famous battles here were the crossing of the river Maas (for which Rommel received the Iron Cross 1 and 2) and the tank battle of Arras.
From here the action picks up on the African campaign where Rommel celebrated his biggest victories.
After Africa Rommel was assigned to headquarters – Burning Horizon includes three missions from that time period from 1943 to 1944.”
Pathfinding and roads
„Pathfinding is determined by the engine and for an add-on we didn’t want to make engine changes.
But to make the desert warfare a little easier we’ve given the Sdkfz 251/5 vehicle all-terrain capability (which according to the veteran we spoke to it really did have) and during the beta testing we’re adding some pathways through the desert so that the units can progress more rapidly, plus we’re putting in a road for the second attack on Tobruk (there actually was a road, built in 1941 during the first siege – this will make troop transport much easier).
To make a long story short: there are many small changes and improvements to the game, but no changes to the engine.
„Each new uniform, i.e. texture takes up a lot of space, so we decided to only introduce new textures which were necessary for Burning Horizon, such as:
The soviet units have desert uniforms (for Mongolia)
The American units from 1942/43 have desert uniforms for the Kasserine pass battle
The British units have winter uniforms for Narvik 1940″
Landscape objects and surroundings
„We all agree, without an authentic landscape there is just no atmosphere. Burning Horizon uses three types of new surroundings:
a) adapting landscapes, for example a landscape in which snow is melting. Vehicles will have a summer livery, some buildings are already free of snow, others still deep under snow. You’ll find these tyopes of landscapes in the additional mission set at the Eatsern front. .
b) authentic landscapes are new landscapes built with new and existing elements to give a completely authentic feel of the surroundings. For example the Belgian coast, with atlantic wall, white cliffs, rivers, ferry, the beach complete with tideas and dunes.
c) new landscape objects are objects, buildings etc designed specifically for a single mission, for example some Italian palazzos or the temple of Siwa in the Egyptian desert.
Other new details are not so much landmarks than new buildings or accessories, for example advertising hoardings in Singapur etc.”