Some time ago I mentioned From the Depths in another topic. I said I would write an AAR about it, so here it is. Before I go any further, let me first try and explain what From the Depths really is, and why it may be interesting to my fellow simmers like yourself. If I had to describe FtD in only 3 words, those would be the following: Minecraft at sea. Now you don’t need to worry just yet. You don’t need to craft a pick-axe and dig the ground for days looking for randomly appearing materials to get to the good stuff. There are nodes around the world where you can build a platform, again of your own design. These harvest materials from the ocean floor, completely automatic. What your real job is is to employ these materials to design and construct weapons of war in the form of warships, submarines and aircraft in order to combat your enemies, conquer the world, and most importantly, take their nodes.
From the Depths is not a simulation product. But there are intricacies and calculations wich I find appealing, and I think fellow simmers who have an interest in naval things will find them interesting too, especially seeing the draught of navy related sims and games.
The first I want to talk about is ship design. One of the most important aspects of a ship is called displacement. You can think of displacement what lift is for aircraft. In order to stay afloat, a ship needs to ‘displace’ a certain amount of water. If the mass of the water displaced is larger than the weight of the ship, it will float. If the amount of water displaced equals the mass of the ship, it will experience neutral buoyancy. Perfect for submarines. If the amount of water displaces is less than the mass of the ship, you sink… Let’s take a look at some hull designs and how we can relate that to FtD.
This is a barge. You can recognize it by the obtuse angles and flat bottom. This is a very efficient design in terms of producing displacement. A ship like this can carry a lot of mass without sinking. However it is not very fast, and not very maneuverable, if you look at it from the front, you can understand the drag is high. The same counts for designs like this in FtD.
Here we see the hull of an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer. All the angles are much more acute. It is harder for a design like this to generate displacement but the ship suffers much less drag, and is faster and more maneuverable. The large mass at the bottom keeps the centre of gravity in appreciable positions. Again this is calculated for in FtD.
Note that the calculations are not perfectly synchronous with the real world. It takes a lot less buoyancy to make steel float than it does in the real world. I guess this was done so people who did not graduate from Naval architecture or marine engineering can still enjoy the game.
The other highly interesting part are the weapons. Weapons and even ammunition is completely of your own design. How do you construct your turret? “sitting on the deck” or extending from the hull? Much or less armor? Where does the ammo sit, how much ammo do you carry in the turret to begin with? Not to mention ammo. A regular AP shell can easily punch through wood, and if energetic enough punch through steel as well. Rounds coming in from one side and exiting the other side may be cool looking, But will take ages to sink a well compartmented ship. What you need to do to get that thing to the bottom of the ocean is to destroy the juicy insides. A HEAT shell may get through thick armor, but can pass through wood and thin armor without doing much damage, even inside, unless the HEAT blast directly passes through the object. High Explosive can do massive damage, but is stopped by a steel hull. HESH can do massive damage to armored and unarmored targets, but is largely stopped by even a single gap between two armored plates. You can also try unique things. A high explosive charge on a sabot? Go ahead, but will an explosive on a subcalibre round be worth it? Hopefully getting you a little excited about the possibilities, I’ll get started on the AAR.
Having just started my new campaign, I’m at the default base. It’s already working hard drawing oil and resources from the ocean floor. I’ll upgrade it’s capabilities a bit by adding more harvesters. Meanwhile I will also improve its defenses so I will always have a safe fall back haven.
Starting an extra section on the fortress. This will house a gun for my defense.
I’ve decided to hide the guts of the gun in the hull. So all the ammo gets stored here and rotates with the gun. It’ll be easy to feed the gun, the actual turret doesn’t need to be as large now. I opened up the side to allow you to take a good look inside.
You can really see the ammo sitting inside the turret and the transportation loading system. The golden/bronze looking shells are flak shells. They contain explosives with a large radius without so much damage. Also a timed fuze to make them explode as close to aircraft as possible. The blue shells are armor piercing rounds. If you watch closely you can see some red shells sitting in a rack on the right. Those are regular High Explosive rounds. You can manually mix and match different shell parts to get a round to your liking.
The turret design didn’t end up being as cool as I had envisionaged. But it’ll have to do. I decided to armor the hull that contains all the ammo with 50% steel and 50% chance. I’ll have to hope a round will strike the metal armor instead of piercing through the wood. Still thinking about aesthetics, I don’t realize enemies are encroaching already.
I wasn’t completely ready for that yet! I didn’t automate the turret yet! I had to manually sit inside the turret and steer the gun. I didn’t build a ballistic trajectory calculator on it as an automated turret doesn’t need one. So I am manually guessing the drop. I managed to knock this aircraft out of the sky, his wooden remains floating in the ocean.
A heavier warship approaches and destroys large parts of my base! I have to use my secondary gun in another position to try and take him out. Note that I play on hard difficulty. On easier settings you don’t need to face ships like this so early, at your homebase
Large parts of the base are in shambles… Do I need to spend much time to repair it? Fortunatly not. The game remembers your design. Tentacles on your back, and small repair drones that I’ve built are already working hard to restore my creations to factory conditions.
I quickly added some of the automation stuff below the turret hull and encapsulate it in steel, without worrying about looks.
I started the design of my first ship. It will try to be a hybrid between the two different designs. Carry enough supplies for a long voyage despite being small. The bottom is still angled as will be shown later in detail. The front will be fully angled.
The hull design is now pretty much complete. Note that she sits high in the water, this is not great as she has a large tendency to roll this way. Possibly capsize. Once she is loaded to bear she will sit a lot lower. There will be plenty of stuff below the deck to keep her centre of mass in a good position.
I decided to cut away her deck to show off my engine design. You don’t need to worry about having to design something this complex every time. I am using the exhaust gasses to power turbo-compressors. This means the kinetic energy of exhaust gasses will provide power for fans that will suck more air into the engine. You don’t need to make such a complicated design every time. I’ll show off something simpler later. I finally route the exhaust gasses to a chimney, where the hot exhaust gasses will lead IR guided missiles to the pretty insignificant chimney instead of my valuable engine.
Low inside the hull You’ll find my armory. A hit to this will surely result in a sink, hence I encapsulate it in steel. On larger designs I like to make a complete citadel. With compartmented storages and multiple layers of armor.
More enemies approach! This time my automated turret is ready for them.
The colour of the tracer indicates what type of shell it is. Blue is for Armor Piercing. Red is for High Explosive. Purple is for Armor Piercing High Explosive (once those rounds run out of kinetic energy they explode). This turquoise coloured shell means it’s a flak round.
Rest in pieces.
Direct hit! A HEAT (orange) shell wich I actually chambered into the munition chambers for those big bad ships we saw before was nearly a hit.
This baddie is inbound. We destroy him without receiving to much damage. Back to desiging my warship.
These are the guts of my turreted gun. Showing the ammo and loading system. Again I try to go for a small clean turret. Hiding the exploding stuff in the hull only exposed above deck when it’s time to shoot.
The looks from above.
Every ship becomes twice as deadly when painted black. So I did just that. On the midship I built a simpler howitzer. The main gun is a dual 200mm type and shoots HE and AP at pretty high velocity. The Howitzer is a 155mm that shoots pretty slow HESH rounds. Highly damaging soft materials and causing heavy spalling behind armored plates. Only armor with gaps is effective at stopping HESH. Something I doubt the pirates do. Especially not from above. The Howitzer shoots subsonic rounds, so they will be arcing pretty intensely to the target. On top of the bridge sits an 18mm Machine gun that shoots full metal jackets with 1 out of every 5 rounds a tracer. I thought long about a name. Eventually I came up with Valiant. The first, and hopefully not last hero of my empire. However, no ship, however beautifully designed, cannot call itself a navy or a fleet on its own. It needs a brother. Do I need to design another ship?
Fortunatly not. I can just save my design, and have the tentacles wich I borrowed from Japanese cartoons build me an exact replica. I’ll later paint the bridge yellow on this one. So you can distuingish between Perseverance and Valiant. It’s also possible to design a vessel in peace, in the editor, and then load it into the campaign this way
Since I can’t be on two ships at the same time, I decide to automate her. Easier done than said, actually. Just some sliders about desired behaviour.
Since Valiant is the flagship, I decide to upgrade her C3I capabilities. So she can detect targets further away.
Setting out on the campaign map (where we can timewarp in order to fast-travel) we find trouble just north of the base.
Both ships project full force on distant targets. Tracers light up the sky and conceal heavier ammo inbound.
Not much left of this aircraft.
In the fight I noticed my ships roll way to far when turning in one way and shooting the other way. I need to rectify this flaw.
With the new keel installed, I lose some speed but am much more stable. Now that the north flank is secure, my base is safe for now. And I can start thinking about a more powerful warship while these two keep my perimeter clean.
Thanks for reading!
- The learning curve is about 20 hours playing while you learn. You’ll go from floating cubes to better looking and performing things as you progress and understand. There’s study material in all forms. Manuals, playable tutorials, guides and videos.
- There’s an editor so you can create things while at piece or spawn enemies in a controlled enviroment
- there are singleplay story missions. You get a precreated ship or you can import a design you made earlier
- There’s about 3 global campaigns. The first is to conquer a planet called Neter. A huge world. You spawn close to some crazy pirate folks and must conquer your way through ever stronger enemy factions. In the second campaign you’ll have to conquer a much smaller world. Doable in much less time. The last campaign is a WW2 campaign where all the science fiction stuff has been cut out. All of this is playable on coop. You can adjust the difficulty mid-campaign.
- you can choose if you play with global or local resources. With local resources you must also design transport vehicles. These supply your fleets or bring the valuables from different types of nodes to a point where you can store them and design ships from while having acces to all materials.
- The game is in early acces alpha. Without many intervals the game receives atleast one update per week. usually once every three days and sometimes multiple per day. I consider it one of few early acces games I own that are a succes.