GDC 18: Hands-On Preview: Bomber Crew (Switch)

The Steam darling is coming to Switch and we got to play it!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 03/22/2018 10:30 Comment on this     ShareThis

GDC officially started on Wednesday, but this past Monday I found myself walking down Fourth Street in San Francisco, heading to the Marriott Marquis to meet with Curve Digital. Curve has released a handful of excellent titles for Nintendo’s various platforms, both as producers and developers, including Fluidity, Stealth, Inc. 2: A Game of Clones, OlliOlli, and more. As I walked into the posh lobby of the Marquis, I was genuinely excited to see what games they had for me to try.

A brief elevator ride later and I walked into Curve’s suite and was greeted by the affable Tom Davis, who quickly directed me over to Jon Wingrove and the game Bomber Crew. Bomber Crew has been available on Steam since October, but it’s a title that I personally didn’t know anything about when I sat down to give it a whirl. Developed by Runner Duck, the game is a World War II aircraft simulator. That might not get a ton of people’s attention at first, but sitting down with Bomber Crew as I did completely got me pumped and anxious to play the full thing when it lands on Switch this year.

Players are thrust into the thick of the action on the British side of World War II. The opening tutorial stage that I played did a wonderful job of quickly acclimating me to Bomber Crew‘s controls. What makes Bomber Crew unique is that, unlike Ace Combat or Star Fox or any other shooter set inside of a fighter jet, Bomber Crew isn’t about visceral, arcade-style shooting. Instead, the focus here is on tracking where the crew is positioned at all times, monitoring and targeting incoming enemy fighters for them to wipe out, keeping track of resources, and more. I quickly found myself immersed in the flow of being in charge and mentally cataloging what felt like a plethora of different activities all at once.

To paint a better picture of what I’m describing, let’s look at a common sequence of events. Your ship is under fire from an enemy aircraft. The radar is pinging southwest, so you manually turn the camera to target the offending plane. Your gunners lock onto the target and begin bombarding it with artillery fire. The enemy craft is taking damage, but then, suddenly, one of your gunners runs out of ammo. You select the gunner and navigate him towards the ammo cache. He snags some rounds and then you redirect him to his turret. He climbs back in, reloads, and begins shooting once more.

This is how Bomber Crew plays out and it’s insanely fun. The scenario I ran through with the gunner is only a part of what’s happening at any given moment during a mission. Ammo runs out, crew members become wounded and need healing, bombs need to be dropped, targets need to be steered towards and then destroyed, and so on. Somehow, taking away my ability to directly steer the plane and shoot the guns made me feel more in control than I ever have in a game of this ilk. Admittedly, it can become somewhat overwhelming at first with so many moving parts to be mindful of, but that sensation quickly passes. After my time with the tutorial mission, I felt incredibly confident about how to play and was ready for a greater challenge.

Thankfully, Jon had one for me in the form of Bomber Crew‘s endless arcade-style mode. Here, I was given a crew and ship and sent out to take on endless streams of enemies and objectives. The difficulty started out mildly enough, but rapidly escalated as time went on. Sometimes, my goal would be as simple as shooting all of the enemy planes from the sky, other times I’d have multiple targets to bomb. Interspersed between these segments there are calmer times where power-ups and health recovery items float through the sky so your ship can be boosted and replenished for the next wave. Jon told me that this is a new mode making its debut on the console version of Bomber Crew, so even those who have played on Steam will have something fresh to enjoy.

Beyond taking out hordes of enemies, Bomber Crew is also about customization. Your ship and its various attributes can be modified between missions. You can also pick which people you want to be part of your crew, as well. There’s even the ability to change the color of your airplane and add custom graphics, as well. Joined with Bomber Crew‘s cartoony aesthetic, the game really pops off the screen, making it a joy to both watch and play. While the cartoonish style might seem like an odd choice for a game that recreates actual events from WWII, I found it fitting. Yes, these are real things that happened during the war, but Bomber Crew is more about the fun of taking on squads of foes versus being a history lesson.

Again, there’s no set in stone release date for Bomber Crew, but we do know that it’s coming to Switch this year. As I made my way out of the suite and back down to the lobby, Bomber Crew was stuck in my mind. I’m anxious to continue where I left off and will be avoiding the Steam version until I can play the whole thing on my Switch. We’ve got plenty of other titles to talk about from GDC this year, but make sure you keep Bomber Crew on your radar!

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