Nine years and a dozen DLCs later, Panzer Corps‘ sequel is finally here. Panzer Corps 2, continuing onwards as the spiritual successor of the Panzer General games of yore, hopes to provide hours of entertainment, turn-based tactical action, and challenging missions for avid wargaming fans. Is it worth your while? Or will this offensive flounder right before the gates of Moscow? Let’s find out in our official review.
Panzer Corps 2: The story so far
In Panzer Corps 2, you play as a German commander in World War II, and you can even assign traits that can benefit or hinder your experience. Your first taste of battle is during the invasion of Poland, allowing you to select whether you’re advancing from the north or the south.
In fact, many of Panzer Corps 2‘s scenarios present this dilemma. For instance, Operation Weserübung, the invasion of Denmark and Norway — or, in Panzer Corps 2, just Norway — presents two options: do you land on the hilly countryside near Oslo and Stavanger, or further north near the mountains of Trondheim and Namsos? After that, you’ll continue to progress and your victories may carry you across the Atlantic, the ruins of Stalingrad, or further into the Middle East.
Army and unit management
While you’re able to field new units at the start of each Panzer Corps 2 mission, you’ll carry over the veterans from previous scenarios. As such, you’ll find yourself getting attached to some of your most experienced units and heroes. Still, you’ll need to take note of your army’s composition and units. Sure, the same panzers that led the drive through the Ardennes in Fall Gelb might be some of the best around, but they may not fare as well as before once they reach the freezing cold of Russia.
Specific unit capabilities also need to be taken into consideration. One has to take note of all the advantages prior to committing to an attack. For instance, some artillery pieces use a “soft attack” which is effective against “soft” targets such as infantry, whereas others have a “hard attack” that’s better suited for armored units. It does become a little hard to memorize all of these differences, and this comes from someone who’s played a lot of World War II strategy games including the original Panzer Corps and Paradox Interactive’s Hearts of Iron series.
Part of the confusion stems from Panzer Corps 2‘s own in-game mechanics of troop losses versus suppression. In many cases, units will only deal suppression (which weakens a target) as opposed to outright killing its troops.
It’s a suitable mechanic to have, one that does add a layer of depth and complexity. However, it can be a little strange at times. For example, planes can sometimes do neither troop damage nor suppression even when an enemy is out in the open.
Two other in-game concepts also continue to be a minor nuisance: retreating and movement commands. A unit retreats if it suffers massive losses to its combat strength. Now, outside of recon units or a tank’s “overrun” mechanic, all your troops can only move once per turn. If you advanced multiple units to support an attack, you can no longer order them to catch a retreating enemy. It does become aggravating at times, especially when you consider that the game is called Panzer Corps 2 and yet overall unit mobility and flexibility can be limited.
Still, Panzer Corps 2 can be forgiving if you made mistakes. You don’t need to “save scum” since you can undo your commands. Likewise, the randomness of combat engagements can be removed entirely.
However, what the game desperately needs as QOL improvements are navigation systems or tags/icons showing which units can still move or act. Although this is visible if you keep scrolling down the unit list panel, a more user-friendly method would be extremely helpful. One need only look at the first mission in the Kursk campaign which has over 70 units for you to check one by one.
Panzer Corps 2: The final verdict
The biggest downsides in Panzer Corps 2, at the moment, would be a few odds and ends. As mentioned in our technical review, the game is poorly optimized for 4K displays, with higher settings barely chugging along at 30 FPS. Keybind changes don’t get saved and you’ll keep hearing the same music track over and over. We’ve been told that these issues would be remedied upon the game’s release.
In spite of the above, Panzer Corps 2 is still brimming with content. As mentioned earlier, you’ll continue playing for hours due to 60 or so missions that can be tackled. There are also campaigns from the previous game’s DLCs featuring the Afrika Korps as well as the German operations in Italy or “Case Axis.” Although the campaigns predominantly focus on Axis operations, there are additional scenarios where you get to play as the United States or the Soviet Union. Additional DLCs would be made available eventually, though you could opt to craft your own custom-made creations. It should also be mentioned that the units and maps look visually striking, a treat for an armchair general’s eyes.
Panzer Corps 2 releases on March 19, 2020. You can purchase it on Steam for $59.99.