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Faction First Look: German Empire

Dev Blog
May 15, 2020

Welcome Soldiers!

We continue our developer blog series with a first look at the German Empire faction which will be featuring heavily in Beyond the Wire. After investigating some of the mechanics we will be seeing in Early Access we shift over to the first showcase of Beyond the Wire character models.

When the German Army entered the war, they were relying on its superiority in heavy artillery, strategic speed and overwhelming firepower. The Germans were pioneers in the use of flamethrowers and chemical weapons and spent large resources on weapons and high-quality uniforms for soldiers, including excellently designed gas masks, and one of the most effective helmets of the first half of the 20th century.

Due to limited human resources, much attention was paid to protecting soldiers and so the Germans actively used metal cuirasses’, sniper shields and additional armour brow plates on helmets - all in order to save the life of a soldier. However, despite the rapid onslaught and initial successes in the war, the German economy was too dependent on external supplies of scarce resources, and so many of its technological advances were not made in sufficient quantities to turn the tide of the war, as the High Command had hoped.

With a range of equipment being necessary when heading out Beyond the Wire, your unit will be visibly equipped to tackle the hazards and obstacles of trench warfare.

Inspired by the real counterparts, our diverse loadouts have allowed us to bring unique character models for each squad role. Being able to identify critical teammates such as medics and leaders quickly by assessing their character is a huge bonus, especially when attempting to navigate across the undulating shell craters of no-man's land.

Hand & Head Models

To make our character models as believable as possible we have decided to use photo scanning technology for the head and hand models. This speeds up the process significantly, as the photo scanned data already includes surface information, which we use as a base for our texturing process. We use simulation software to make uniforms and other equipment look more organic. Additional details like folds, rivets, seams, buttons and stitches are sculpted in other 3D software.

Further details such as surface wear and tear are added during the texturing or painting process.  Higher-resolution models and textures are included on the 1st person view that makes the soldier’s sleeves, hands and weapons sharper to the camera. Given that we’re utilizing a fully modular design, all our head models, arms, uniforms and equipment are possibly interchangeable for added flexibility, which allows for quicker iterations.

Lastly, we’ve created a custom skin shader for the hand models which adds a sense of softness to the surface, making the skin look more realistic.

Equipment & Uniform Models

M1916 Stahlhelm

The famous German helmet, which has become the main reference for many post-war helmets due to its efficient design. A noticeable visual feature was two protruding “horns” served as the basis for many propaganda images. But these “horns” were actually air vents and mounts for an additional armour plate called the Stirnpanzer.


During the Great War, several modifications were released. The Stahlhelm had the same small “horns” which were used to attach an additional armoured brow plate. Such reinforced Stahlhelms were not very comfortable due to the increased weight and the centre of gravity shifted forward. But snipers, sentries and stormtroopers preferred to endure discomfort for the sake of even a small chance of survival.

M1917 Lederschutzmaske

The Germans were leaders not only in protective equipment but also in chemical warfare, being the first to use poison gas for military purposes near the Ypres. To use chemical weapons the German Army needed reliable respiratory protection and the german design was excellent, but as it was made from rubber it was expensive to produce.


As one of the bonus' of being in a leadership position officers were issued with more durable equipment and uniform. With a greatcoat made from wool and rubber trench boots, they were protected well against weather and the conditions of prolonged trench warfare.


The rest of the army needed protection from similar hazards but their uniform lacked the same standard. With hard-soled ankle boots and leg strappings known as "Gamaschen" protecting against the muddy bog, the uniform allowed the soldiers to move freely no matter the circumstance.

Stay alert soldiers as these dev blogs are going to start coming thick and fast as we continue on this exciting development process together!

Check out our latest livestream where we had a developer Q&A session with our Lead Producer where we went into more detail on the future of BTW!