Hands up if you remember Söldner: Secret Wars. Okay, now hands up if you ever at any point in your life thought that what the world really needs right now is Söldner: Secret Wars Remastered. Obviously I can’t see how many hands are up so I’m just going to assume the number is zero, but be that as it may, it’s actually happening.
Söldner: Secret Wars is a 2004 multiplayer tactical shooter developed by German studio Wings Simulations that put players in the role of heavily-armed mercenaries (“söldner” is German for “mercenary,” and not to be confused with “soldat,” which is German for “soldier” and also the title of a completely unrelated 2002 action side-scroller) doing battle in a huge, highly-destructible world filled with all sorts of ground, air, and seaborne vehicles.
The idea was cool, but the reality, unfortunately, sucked. “All the gameplay ingredients are here, but a complete lack of seasoning makes this one dish that should be tossed down the disposal,” PC Gamer said in its 45% review from October 2004. That score was practically dead-center on the critical reaction: Söldner holds a 43% aggregate rating on Metacritic.
The game ended up in THQ Nordic’s hands in 2011, when Nordic (as it was known at the time) acquired Söldner publisher JoWood. But Nordic basically washed its hands of the whole thing almost immediately by making it free—and not free-to-play, just free, take my game, please—as the Söldner (Marine Corps) Community Edition. As described most aptly by PC Perspective, the update didn’t do much to improve things.
“It was originally a buggy game that reached for the sky without paying attention to [its] footing,” the site wrote. “It is now an even buggier game with extra vehicles and features.”
And so it remained until literally today, when the Steam page for Söldner: Secret Wars Remastered suddenly popped out of nowhere. It’s still a work in progress and there’s no release date yet, but it’s definitely happening.
“It’s been a long journey and our team is more than happy to finally welcome you here on Steam!” the reveal announcement says. “We are looking forward to you sharing your thoughts, suggestions and experiences, your character creations and all the things you will do or that may happen to you, while exploring the huge world map (22.750.000 km²!) and employing any of the over 100 firearms and 120+ vehicles.”
Söldner: Secret Wars Remastered is being developed by Pixelcloud Games, whose previous releases include the VR game Monks Island and a “brain trainer” called BCI Trainer. Pixelcloud’s website says it is “upgrading [the] original engine and gameplay (code from 2004)” for the remaster and creating assets based on the original original. Will it recreate all the original bugs and jankiness too? Only time will tell.
I kid about the essentially unessential nature of this project, but the announcement has definitely sparked some joy. “Oh my fucking god, no WAY!!” redditor roidymagoo2 wrote. “I was into this back in the day, and I still sometimes randomly blurt out the menu narrator who says ‘……..zzzzzZoldner….painfully long load time‘.”
Okay, maybe “joy” is overstating the situation. But nostalgia and a spot of excitement-tinged confusion? There’s definitely some of that. Still, I just don’t get it. Of all the games in the world that could stand to be remastered, who decided that, yeah, Soldner: Secret Wars is the one the gamers really want? Sure, I guess some people will dig it, but… Why?
THQ Nordic explained the rationale behind the decision in a statement sent to PC Gamer. “Soldner: Secret Wars had a rocky launch in the past, but it managed to gather an active and passionate community,” the publisher said. “Over the years, the development of the game was taken over by the community. When we acquired the IP ownership of Soldner, we were aware of its history and its potential. Our initial focus is usually on asset care, maximizing the value of something already developed, released, and played by numerous players.
“Although it wasn’t immediately apparent with Soldner, we discovered that it still has an active player base. This sparked the idea to make it available to as many people as possible on popular digital distribution platforms. We approached the company entrusted with its maintenance and assembled a team of existing Soldner fans and new developers to work on a remaster. Now, it’s time to increase our communication efforts, which we have been doing exclusively on our blog at http://www.soldnersecretwars.de/ for the past few years.”
You can take a deeper dive into what Soldner: Secret Wars is all about at the very old-school soldnersecretwars.de website.