This section highlights the basic gameplay mechanics in the Brothers in Arms games.
Gameplay in the Brothers in Arms SeriesEdit
The basic gameplay in the Brothers in Arms series centers around the infantry squads made up of two teams. This includes the Assault team and the Fire Team. The player controls these teams using a single button to direct movement and fire. Each team is represented by an unique icon. By moving the icon around the environment, the player can direct his squads to do various actions. By pointing the icon at the ground, the player is telling his squad to 'move there.' If they point the icon at the enemy (which turns red when this is done) the player can order his squad to fire at the enemy. If the player points the icon at the enemy and hits the secondary button, the player can order his squads to assault the enemy.
Learning the basics for Brothers in Arms.
All versions of Brothers in Arms come with a tutorial that teaches the player the basics of the combat system. For both the PC and Xbox versions of Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 and Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood, this was included in two ways. First there was a non-interactive video by Randy Pitchford and John Antal that showed the player the basics of the controls using in-game footage.
In addition, each of these games included an interactive tutorial that was incorporated into the first couple of levels. This entailed the player starting out on their own to get used to the movement and action keys. Followed by slowly introducing more and more friendly, non-playable characters (NPC) until the player had two full teams with three soldiers each. To start with, the player would have themselves and one other NPC acting as a fire or assault team.
The basic squad in Brothers in Arms are made up two "teams," the fire and assault team. Each of the teams have different functions based on their weapons carried. The player can use either team as they wish, but using the appropriate team for the appropriate purpose will increase the effectiveness of the squad as a whole.
- Fire Team - The fire team usually carries M1 Garand's and BAR's. In Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway the fire team will also have access to Browning .30 cal machine gun's and Bazooka's. These are usually heavier weapons that can provide a steady, yet heavy base of fire. The fire team's job is to use overwhelming firepower on the enemy so that they stay behind over and are "suppressed." Suppressed enemies will fire less and with less accuracy, allowing the player and his other squads to maneuver more easily.
- Assault Team - Usually carries M1 Carbine's and Thompson Submachine guns. Beginning in Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood, the assault team also carries the M3 Grease Gun. These are lighter and have relatively high rates of fire. This allows the assault team to move more quickly and dart between cover. The Assault team is used to flank the enemy once the fire team has suppressed them.
- Other Teams - Often in brothers in arms, the player has one of their teams (often the fire team) replaced by a tank or armored vehicle. This can include the M4 sherman tank, the M5 stuart tank, and the M10 Wolverine. These are extremely effective at suppressing enemy infantry and machineguns as well as for destroying enemy tanks. However, the player must be careful as often the enemy soldiers carry Panzerfaust's or man enemy anit-tank guns. In Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway the player may also have access to mortar teams as well as teams that can call in air support.
The "Four F's"' is a military term used during WWII used to describe the basics of infantry combat. In Brothers in Arms the Four F's are the primary gameplay device.
- Find - Locate the enemy and determine their exact position
- Fix - Use gunfire to pin, or suppress, the enemy.
- Flank - Send other soldiers around to the sides of the enemy position.
- Finish - Eliminate all enemy combatants.
Use in Brothers in ArmsEdit
In Brothers in Arms, the Four F's are central to all gameplay. As the player enters a new area, they are either fired upon by the enemy (giving away their location) or the player or their squad see the enemy first. The player than suppresses the enemy with their own weapon or one (or both) of their teams. By sending their squads, or by doing it themselves, the player gets to the sides (flank) of the enemy and finishes them off. This is then repeated either as the player enters a new area or new enemy combatants enter the current area.
- Enemy tanks, and machineguns cannot be readily suppressed by infantry weapons and tanks cannot be suppressed at all.
- For Tanks, this usually means destroying them with a bazooka or friendly tank, or my mounting the enemy tank and tossing in a grenade.
- While machineguns can be suppressed by the players squad, the weapon can still be quite deadly while suppress. However, if the play (or one of their teams can flank the gun, they cannot turn to meet the new threat and as such can easily be destroyed.
- Heavy weapons can be flanked rather easily as long as the player moves while the weapon is reloading. However, these are usually assisted by enemy fire teams, meaning that often the player must eliminate these infantry before moving on the gun.
- The German 88 mm can rotate 360 degrees, making a flanking maneuver much more difficult.
- Other 'anti-tank guns, such as the Pak 36, cannot be rotated and can only adjust to what is directly in front of them.
- Enemy mortar teams can adjust fire in any direction, however, their aim is much less accurate given the nature of the weapon. As soon as the player or his squad fires on a mortar team, they usually leave the weapon and function as regular infantry.
The player can use their own, friendly tanks essentially as another fire team. The can suppress the enemy and flank with their infantry squad. However, the high explosive round fired from main gun of the tank does have the ability to kill enemy soldiers behind cover without being on the flank. Also, fixed enemy machineguns can be captured and used to suppress the enemy.
The dynamic of the "Four F's" will most likely change somewhat in the new Brothers in Arms game. With deployable machineguns, AI controlled bazooka teams, destructible cover and the ability to capture enemy anti-tank guns, Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway will bring in new and significant changes to the gameplay.
- Deployable Machine Guns - In the Hell's Highway, the player, their fire team and the enemy soldiers can now carry and deploy machineguns. In the previous two games, machineguns were fix to vehicles or stationary objects and could not be moved. This meant that the player, nor the enemy, could not relocate their machineguns if the position became flanked.
- Now, in the new Brothers in Arms, the ability to bring the firepower of a machinegun to bare at any point will undoubtedly add a new dynamic to battles in the game.
- AI Controlled Bazooka Teams - Just like with the machinegun team, the player will often have control of a fire team armed with the Bazooka. The bazooka brings the ability to destroy any hard cover that enemy soldiers may be hiding behind. As well as provide the player with another way to destroy enemy tanks and heavy weapons.
- Destructible Cover - The new ability of the bazooka is directly part of the new destructible cover in the Hell's Highway. Materials such as wood can be destroyed by rifle and gun fire. While harder materials such as sandbags and brink can be destroyed by bazookas and other heavy weapons.
- Capturing Enemy Anti-Tank Guns - Seen in an E3 video, the player can now order one of their squads to capture enemy anti-tank guns and then turned them against approaching enemy armor. Of course, this is only after the 'previous' crew has been eliminated. This adds yet another way for the player to destroy enemy tanks.
- Mortar Teams & Air Support - In addition to machinegun and bazooka teams, the player will also have access to mortar teams and teams with the ability to call in air support. This will give the player access to heavy, indirect fire weapons.
Althrough the Brothers in Arms series includes a multiplayer mode on both the PC and Xbox verions, the series is best known for its engrossing and emotional singleplayer mode. The "Campaign" or story mode was included in all the games, whereas Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood was the first to include a "Skimish" mode.
The Campaign mode or story mode is a progression of levels that through narratives, cut-scenes and gameplay tells the storey of Matt Baker, Joseph Hartsock, and the rest of the soldiers. The first time through, levels must be played in the order that the developers intended. However, once beat, levels can be played in any order the user chooses. In both Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 and Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood beating singplayer, campaign levels unlocks additional content. This content included "making of" videos, stats on weapons and tanks, music, and more. Each level had several items to unlock and the high the difficulty the level was finished on, the more content it unlocked.
Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood introduced the skirmish mode to the series. This mode was a series of levels, completely separate from the main story. There is a German and American campaign, each consisting of 5 levels. These could be completed in any order, or if the player chose, could try "tour" mode which challenged the player to beat all 5 levels consecutively. If the player died, then the tour was over. Also friendly squad-mates killed in the previous level would not show up in the next. However, all injuries to surviving members (including the player) would be gone and would start the next level with full health.
Difficulty setting on all levels could be adjusted either with three default settings or a custom setting. On custom, the difficulty is adjusted by changing the settings for enemy intelligence, suppression (how easily they were suppressed) and accuracy.
The Brothers in Arms series was the one of the first video games to also include non-playable, AI bots as part of the multiplayer experience. The two basic multiplayer modes are "team-based" and "cooperative (coop)." Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 only included team-based multiplayer whereas Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood introduced the online coop mode.
The Brothers in Arms series was not the first video game to introduce online, team-based multiplayer there groups of people can fight it out on the virtual battlefield using the internet. However, Brothers in Arms was a pioneer in the fact that teams of two or three fought it out with the help of AI squads under the command of the player.
The basics of the Brothers in Arms team-based multiplayer boils down to teams of two versus two, or three versus three, trying to either protect or defend a given objective. This objective ranges from the destruction of bridge or vehicle, to simply traveling from one end of the map to the other while the other team tries to prevent them from reaching the destination.
Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood introduced the online, multiplayer cooperative (coop) mode to the series. In coop two players can team up, commanding one AI squad each, to battle the computer commanded AI in the skirmish modes. As in Skirmish, the player can set the difficulty of the level based on enemy accuracy, suppression, and intelligence.
Brothers in Arms: Hell's HighwayEdit
Little has been said and almost nothing confirmed in regards to the Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway multiplyer. However, in recent 'hands-on' previews of the game, that the multiplayer will feature "dozens" of players online at once.
Taken from a recent gamespot article (4-18-2008), "We were able to confirm that Hell's Highway will include multiplayer modes, but all we know so far is that it will feature squad-based gameplay and dozens of player on each side."
Hell's Highway multiplayer was later taken down from the servers for unknown reasons.