This week, the Bitstreamers gave me an early look at Battlefields: The Civil War, an army-level hex wargame for iPad set in the American Civil War. This is the game that they originally launched last year as Civil War: The Battle Game, but have decided to overhaul from the ground up after receiving a lukewarm welcome here and elsewhere. The rain on Civil War: TBG’s powder last year was chiefly down to a combat engine that produced mysterious results and graphics that seemed better suited to a civil war between Elmo and Big Bird than the Blue and the Gray.
Though what I played this week was an early development build, it’s clear that the Bitstreamers have taken the criticisms and made the most of them. The first thing anyone who played the old game will notice is the dramatically improved graphics. Gone are the cute soldiers borrowed from a Postman Pat game for Super Nintendo, replaced by silhouetted unit counters that draw an obvious (and welcome) inspiration from Shenandoah’s Battle of the Bulge. For me, this game has done a complete 180 and now sports one of the sharper presentations I’ve seen in an iOS wargame.
The combat results are also decidedly less inscrutable, and this new version of the game even pops up a tooltip to give you a contextual explanation of the odds of a particular attack (“a fifty-fifty chance of winning”, or “this enemy unit is vulnerable”, and so on).
Bitstreamers are planning on unveiling their new engine with the brand new Battlefields: Seven Years’ War in October, with the rebooted Battlefields: The Civil War following in November. Owners of the current Civil War: The Battle Game will have to buy the game over again — Civil War will be a new app, not an update.