I can officially say that I’ve never experienced anything quite like this. A few days ago, I received a packet in the mail from Trion Worlds. Now, they were kind enough to send me an End of Nations T-Shirt a couple weeks ago (still need to get a photo of this though), so I had reason to believe that more goodies were in store for me.
Instead, I received this cryptical packet of documents. First, I received a “For Official Eyes Only” letter, instructing me to read and disseminate this information to the discerning and wary. Then, I received a one-page document (pictured above, left) instructing me to share this info on Facebook, twitter, and, were I so inclined, YouTube. It also gave me some code words to look out for as the launch neared, and asked me to keep a log of the internet communications I intercepted that contained those code words.
Lastly, the central document to the whole packet was nothing less than a 1970 US Army Combat Flame Operations manual, apparently not generated by Trion or Petroglyph. It appears to be the real deal. I’ve been instructed, further, to pay special attention to section 4-1 through 4-9. I’ll be sharing some photos from this section below.
First, as a promotional tactic, this is something I can really get behind. Why are they sending 1970’s US Army documents to bloggers? What is the significance of the called-out sections? It’s all very mysterious, and should give End of Nations fans something to speculate on while the dev team is working on the actual game. I am pleasantly frustrated with the whole thing. Pleasant, because, as I said, it’s a really neat idea. Frustrated, because I’m likely too dense to make any sense of this whole thing. That’s, hopefully, where you all come in: hopefully, the Internet At Large can help decipher Trion’s little puzzle.
Secondly, and whether or not they realized it, this was perhaps the perfect document to send me. In RTS games, I tend to favor close-ranged weapons with a wide area of effect, and I’ve always liked the idea of a Flame Tank. In fact, in Command and Conquer games, I always thought the Nod flame tank was much cooler than the GDI Sonic Tank, et cetera. So, Trion/Petroglyph, thanks for giving me the Flame Operations Manual instead of something else!
So, let’s now take some time to look at the actual document. Below, you can see the table of contents. As you can see, the bit I’ve been asked to pay special attention to is Section 1: Characteristics, and Section 2: Employment in the Offense and Defense.
Skipping right to the good stuff, here’s an image gallery of the vehicles that show up in the document:
Lastly, here’s a brief overview of the contents of sections 4-1 through 4-9, along with some Baseless Speculation, and some Hopeful Wishing. Also, if you’re interested in learning about 1970’s flame ordnance, read on!
- Section 4-1 is the introduction: it states that the primary mission of the Mechanized Flamethrower (awesome name, by the way!) is dislodging or destroying personnel in emplacement such as fortified positions including caves, tunnels, and buildings that resist assault by other weapons. Is this a hint that, as in Command and Conquer games (remember, Petroglyph is built partially on people from Westwood studios!) players will have the ability to garrison infantry? And that, perhaps, the Shadow Revolution (or Lib Front, I guess; but I’d bet money that the SR will be the ones who have a flame tank!) might have a flame tank designed to deal with situations like this? Oh God, I hope so!
- Section 4-2 gives a list of available Mechanized Flame Weapons, listing their range, fuel capacity, duration of fire, mobility etc.
- Section 4-3 covers servicing of these weapons. Hopefully, we won’t have a complicated repair mechanic… I doubt that Trion’s intent is to have us speculate on every last line of this document.
- Section 4-4 covers gunnery techniques
- Section Section 4-5 covers Common Characteristics. This could be useful, as well: Highly mobile, limited armor protection, vehicle-mounted communication (probably nothing special for an in-game flame tank, but I’m trying to cover all the bases), large fuel capacity, long-range flame gun (nerd chills here! I’d love a long-range flame tank: the one in CnC games is pretty close range), vehicle-mounted means of delivering firepower in addition to flame gun (perhaps a secondary attack? let the speculation run rampant!)
- 4-6 covers the capabilities of these weapons: battlefield survival, effective communications, sustained operation, comparatively long-range flame delivery, shock action. Flame tanks are noted to have good mobility, and less vulnerable to artillery and mortar fire (possible hint?). Flame tanks are noted as being able to handle terrain better than other armored vehicles, but less capable of handling a good hit.
- 4-7 covers the limitations of these weapons. They have limited overall range, compared with other weapon types, they are somewhat sensitive to terrain (more so than infantry) they are noted as having a destinct silhouette, as well, perhaps making them a priority target for a primarily infantry-based force (can apply to both real world and potential EoN scenarios?)
Now, we come to Section 2, with subsections 4-8 through 4-13. This covers Employment in the Offense and Defense. Should be interesting, let’s read on.
This section is somewhat more interesting (at least to the author) than the previous one. It deals with the tactical offensive and defensive applications of these vehicles. Whether or not this will translate into the game, remains to be seen. But, at least it’s a good read.
- Sub-section 4-8 is the introduction to Employment in the Offense. It lists them as an offensive support vehicle, somewhat useful in defensive positions (perhaps to keep the enemy off-guard while entrenching or retreating)
- 4-9 deals with the principals of employment. (Side note, I really hope this guide was provided as a hint to how flame weapons will be used in this game! Something this tactically deep will be really fulfilling for RTS gamers). It notes that the success of a Combat Flame attack depends on the exploitation of combat chaos caused by Mechanized Flamethrowers (Trion, please call your flame tank a mechanized flamethrower! such a badass name). It is noted that, due to the fragility of flame weapons, proper reonnaissance is important before deploying them, with particular attention given to terrain that could give these weapons problems as they try to close ground.
- It again states that flame weapons are support weapons, and notes that despite this, they need proper fire support to function effectively. Particularly, attention should be paid to: neutralizing antitank weaponry, obsuring enemy observation of the weapons until they close distance, protective airburst artillery fire (hint hint?) during their advance, and artillery/mortar fire to flush out targets.
Is this perhaps a primer for effective play as the Support class (if it still exists?) or even a hint as to how artillery might be used in-game to synergize with flame weapons? I certainly hope so!
There’s a bunch more, but I think this is good for now. I’ll follow up with more speculation and further images at a later time.