Ubisoft Turns Three Classic Franchises into Free-to-Play Browser GamesCategory: Gaming
Posted: August 16, 2012 07:55PM
Video games take a certain time committment to see through all the way to the end, but not everyone can set aside the hours to play the game. Sometimes you may only have 15 minutes or less at a time, which is where browser-based games come into play. Those types of games have been on the rise over the last few years, and now Ubisoft is joining the party. During Gamescom, Ubisoft announced three classic franchises will be turned into free-to-play browser games: Silent Hunter Online, Anno Online, and Heroes of Might & Magic Online. All three games have multiple iterations on the PC and all take a sizeable investment to play.
Silent Hunter Online takes place between 1939 and 1945, with you in charge of an U-boat trying to disrupt Allied shipping lines. The game uses Flash Player and features real-time 3D combat, a 3D bridge complete with periscope, and access to your officers. These officers can plot courses, man the watch, and even figure out the torpedo's clockwork curvature if you do not feel like doing all of that yourself. The browser version differs from the regular Silent Hunter games by putting you in command of several U-boats, which you can view on the right side of the screen. Your team of U-boats allows you to flank enemy ships or lure away destroyers, all of which is made easier with the strategic map. Sadly, the limitations of Flash means no torpedo-cam or free camera, but much of the assets from Silent Hunter 5, like weather, are included.
Anno Online is a city-building game that tasks you with building the biggest city possible. You also have to manage your citizens to make sure they get all the resources they need, similar to other Anno games. The browser game packs in over 120 building types and more than 800 buildings per city, so anything you make should have a distinct feel to it. There will be nine islands for you to colonize, but the last four are micro-transaction based. The starter island has a fixed size and random resource arrangement, while the other islands are random. The game looks like Anno 1404 instead of Anno 2070, but like SHO it is rendered in Flash. Large structures, like a massive cathedral, require cooperation betwen players, but the exact type was not outlined. Anno Online will feature a guild system, chat, online leaderboards, a mail system, and 3.5 million combinations for avatars.
Lastly we come to Heroes of Might & Magic Online, which is perhaps the most fitting browser game of the bunch. The hand-drawn style and 2D graphics work well in a browser, as does the battle system. It plays out just like a regular Heroes of Might & Magic game, but with a return to the hex-based battle map of older titles. Ranged units no longer have an infinite fire range as a result, while facing and flanking are now more important than ever for melee units. Turning your back to a melee character can be very dangerous and vice versa for your opponent. Other than that, the battles are the same with the hero unit lending aid when possible while the army fights. Different battlefields can alter the layout of the map, so things may be more constricted based on where you are fighting.
All three titles are in development at Blue Byte, which has created The Settlers Online and other free-to-play games. All three titles will feature micro-transactions, but like the additional islands for Anno Online, none are of the "pay-to-win" variety. The majority should be cosmetic, although Heroes of Might & Magic Online could offer new quests, classes, story content, and more. Closed beta are planned for all three games, but there was no date given to any. There should be plenty more content being added to the titles over time, so keep your eyes peeled for more updates.