Joining the Second Wave: An Overview of Steel Division’s First DLC

We’d not heard much from Steel Division for a while now. Since its release, other than the odd re-balancing and the addition of a few maps, all has been quiet on the Western Front. But Normandy is hotting up again with the coming of Steel Division’s Second Wave DLC. The DLC provides four new divisions for players to choose from, as well as a host of free additions to the package. Let’s look at what’s new.

The Freebies

The most significant aspect of the free additions in this update is the new game mode. Dubbed Closer Combat, it enables all players to deploy far closer to the centre of the map than the standard game mode. Infantry may also deployed on foot without their transports. The aim appears to make combat somewhat more organic, rather than simply a rush to the centre with transport vehicles. Whilst the opening minute or two of battle is made different, if not more interesting, it is unfortunate that after those few minutes, action follows largely the same course as a standard game. One is left with the unfortunate impression of a missed opportunity.

A roadmap that includes more “Ace” units and free cooperative missions has also been released, but those remain slated for release by early 2018.  

The Paid DLC

The paid portion of the DLC provides four new divisions. These are the US 4th Armored Division, the British and French 1st Special Service Brigade and the German 9th Panzer and 16th Luftwaffe Field Divisions. Whilst these units are perhaps not for everyone, in particular those with a competitive multiplayer streak, Eugen Systems are to be commended for their willingness to explore some of the more varied units that fought in the Normandy campaign.

Top of the list in this regard must surely be the 1st Special Service Brigade, composed of Commandos from both British and Free French Forces. This unit was among the first units to land on D-Day itself and has memorable role in the film The Longest Day in relieving the embattled air-landing units holding Pegasus Bridge and the impressive set piece battle at Ouistreham.

I sincerely doubt 1st SSB will be particularly competitive in many situations in multiplayer. Its almost complete lack of vehicles in the opening phases of the battle render it helpless against Axis armoured cars, but it makes for it in sheer flavor. Who can say no to the ability to call in a 960 rocket barrage upon an enemy position?

The other formations available in the DLC calm down a little bit from here. The US 4th Armored would be a relatively standard US armoured division (i.e. Shermans, Shermans everywhere) were it not for some interesting additions. Specifically, the arrival of the long awaited M18 Hellcat provides some extremely mobile (if flimsy) anti-tank firepower to this US armoured unit. Judging by the demands on the Steel Division forums for the unit to be nerfed already, it appears to be going down a treat!

The Germans for their oddball division receive the 16th Luftwaffe Field Division. This division has a curious mixture of large numbers of veteran 88mm FLaK cannons supported by WW1 vintage Renault FT tanks that move slower than a man, amongst other relics of an earlier, muddier, age of war. With such static units, the 16th harks back more to immobile trench warfare than the swift armoured thrusts of the blitzkrieg.

Finally comes the 9th Panzer Division. Like the US 4th Armored, the 9th is a more conventionally organised division, with an early game ace up its sleeve in the form of the Panzer II Luchs, a vicious little light tank armed with a 20mm cannon. The division then follows a standard progression from Panzer IVs and StuGs to late game beasts in the form of the Tiger I. As I have discovered to my cost, it is next to impossible to stop this division once it takes the offensive en masse.

Second Wave is a serviceable but ultimately uninspiring DLC. If you’re looking for a new gamemode, the excitement is unfortunately over in the first few minutes. That being said, if you enjoy casual games with friends messing about with crazy decks then you will love this DLC. The variety of ways to play just increased, in particular if you prefer to play the Allies. If you’re looking to be competitive in multiplayer, you’ll have to be very, very good to be effective with some of these decks. Whilst the new decks are good, one is ultimately left feeling somewhat deflated by the fanfare for the new gamemode. I sincerely hope more and grander additions are on the cards for the future.