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Video Game / Cold Waters

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Cold Waters is a Cold War-era submarine simulation game released on Steam for PC and macOS in 2017.

The player takes command of one of several classes of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines in the U.S. Navy in a hypothetical World War III that occurs in either 1968 or 1984. It is a Spiritual Sequel to Microprose's video game adaption of Red Storm Rising and Tom Clancy's SSN.

Provides Examples Of:

  • All for Nothing: It's possible to completely wreck the Soviet navy, only for NATO to lose the war if you don't successfully hunt down the Soviet boomer in the final mission.
  • Alternate History: There are three campaigns, each being a different alternate timeline. The 1968 campaign has the war start when the Soviet Politburo perceives the Johnson administration's lack of response to the Prague Spring and resulting Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia as a sign of weakness, and decides to invade West Germany while America is focused on Vietnam. The 1984 campaign has the Soviet regime perceive Reagan's anti-communist rhetoric and concurrent military buildup as a threat, leading them to choose to strike first. The third campaign is set in West Pacific in 2000, and features China as the opposing force, who start a war over Taiwan following the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which hits China's economy harder than it did in real life and leads the Chinese Communist Party to look for an external crisis to focus its population on.
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  • America Saves the Day: Played with. You command a U.S. Navy submarine and the outcome of your missions affects the dynamic campaign, but the in-game news releases mention other NATO nations doing their part. Just how well they do can depend on your performance if your mission was connected to that theater of the war; for example, if the Soviets invade Norway, their invasion goes a lot smoother if you failed to stop their subs from landing Spetznaz teams to disrupt the Norwegian army around Andøya. The war also depends on NATO's ability to bring more troops and supplies across the Atlantic from the USA.
  • Ascended Fanboy: The crew voices were provided by members of SubSim website, where Killerfish had done a lot of promotion for the game.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Submarine-launched anti-ship cruise missiles. They are excellent ship-killers, but they are susceptible to enemy air defenses and, unless you launch from well beyond the visual horizon, every Russian on the map will know exactly where you are, and you don't want that. They can be good for taking out landing ships in invasion convoys once the escorts have been sunk.
    • To a degree, targeting capital ships. Sure, they may be heavily armed and a major threat to ships, but, regardless of campaign, the war will primarily be won by you sinking enemy shipping (preventing resupply of ground and naval forces), invasion forces, and submarines (preventing the enemy from targeting your convoys or inserting special forces teams). In turn, escort ships are usually a bigger threat, as there are more of them and you'll usually have to deal with them when going after invasion forces, resupply groups, or convoys.
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  • Difficulty Spike: The year 2000 South China Sea campaign is considerably more difficult than the 1984 North Atlantic Campaign, due to a combination of technology and geography. While you have access to more advanced subs, namely the Seawolf and 688i Los Angeles, the PLA Navy also has more advanced sonar and wired guided torpedoes. A lot of the combat also takes place in the shallow waters off the Chinese coast, making evasion trickier. There's also the size of the Pacific Ocean; getting to and from your home port of Guam for refit and resupply can easily cost you a mission. It's very easy to miss an invasion force heading to Taiwan or the Spratly Island because of how close they are to the Chinese ports. There are also a lot more civilian ships, so an itchy trigger finger can cost you a command right quick.
  • Genius Bonus: When playable Russian subs were added to scenario mode, American NPC ships were also added to provide opponents for them. If you look closely at their models in the in-game viewer (or in battle if you're gutsy enough to raise the periscope close enough to read them) you can see actual international signal flags flying from the yardarms. They spell out Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo Yankee Echo Alfa Hotelnote 
  • Hell Is That Noise: The sound of a torpedo homing in. And then, once the crew voices were added in, "Conn, Sonar. Torpedo in the water."
  • Hot Sub-on-Sub Action: A frequent-enough occurrence, though you'll probably face more surface ships.
  • It's Up to You: It appears that yours is the only friendly submarine in the entire North Atlantic (or West Pacific in 2000) given how many times it's said no other NATO forces are available to stop Russian (or Chinese) incursions.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Enemy ships and subs will use this when firing snap shots down the bearing of an incoming torpedo. With the addition of the 688i and Seawolf, you can also pull this off using actual missiles from the Vertical Launch System or Seawolf's eight forward torpedo tubes.
  • Mad Libs Dialogue: The crew voices have this when announcing numbers. Less jarring than most, since the voice actor seems to have taken pains to keep his voice flat while announcing, and also becaue in actual naval protocol the numbers are pronounced slowly and separately.
  • Misguided Missile: Hoist by His Own Petard: This is why it's advisable for you to have a good fix on the enemy's location lest you find yourself being targeted by your own torpedo(s), since torpedoes with severed wires, will likely target anything they can get a lock on. On the other hand, it's possible to pull this off on the enemy, either with a MOSS torpedo, or if you're close enough, your own submarine, á la The Hunt for Red October.
  • Mutual Kill: Once an enemy vessel detects an incoming torpedo, they usually fire a large spread of snap shots, IE unguided torpedoes down the bearing of the incoming attack. The idea is to either force the player to break the wire to their own torpedoes, thereby giving an increased chance to dodge the attack, or to hopefully kill the player with their parting shots.
  • Nuclear Option: Once the dynamic campaign goes decisively against the Soviet Union (or People's Republic of China), they will sortie their ballistic missile submarines and threaten to launch missiles. If you fail your final mission to take out one or more of them in the Arctic Ocean, NATO will decide that calling their bluff is too risky and will agree to Moscow's terms.
  • Oh, Crap!: Enemy ships and submarines will have this reaction once they detect torpedoes homing in on them. Their usual response is to go to flank speed and try to run. Which leads to Run or Die below.
  • Reds with Rockets: Both of the first two campaigns pit the player against the Soviet Red Banner Fleet. Post release, the developers added a third campaign set in the southwest Pacific in 2000, with the Red Chinese PLA Navy as the opposing force.
  • Run or Die: The standard response to an incoming torpedo, with a lot of ducking and weaving, to create knuckles, thrown in for good measure. You probably won't be able to actually outrun the torpedo, but you just might be able to dodge it long enough to burn out its fuel supply.
  • Shout-Out: An extremely bizarre one. Some of the cargo ships you can run into will bear the company name of Kiki Delivery Service. Yes, really.
  • Shown Their Work: The Red Banner Northern Fleet's and People's Liberation Army Navy's wide variety of surface combatants, submarines, support ships, and aircraft, as are their weapon systems and associated tactics. Each campaign features period-appropriate ships with appropriate capabilities. The same level of detail goes into the American submarines, helicopters, and surface ships.
  • Spiritual Sequel: To Microprose's video game adaption of Red Storm Rising. It's description on Steam even says so.
  • Stealth-Based Game: A naval one, but still. Generally, the idea is to detect and sink enemy ships and subs without them detecting you. Whoever gets the drop on the other side first is usually the winner.
  • Super Prototype: In the 1984 campaign, you can use the USS Narwhal, which was basically an experiment in ultra-quiet submarine propulsion. It had a nuclear reactor that was cooled by natural circulation, meaning that it took advantage of convection (hot stuff rises, cool stuff sinks) to allow the reactor to work even when the coolant pumps were shut off. It's as slow as the 1960's Sturgeon class hull it's built on, but it's also the quietest submarine available in the time period and can dive significantly deeper than the Los Angeles class. As the only ship of her class ever built, if you get her sunk but survive, you can only transfer to another class to resume the campaign.
    • USS Seawolf is functionally this in-game, as at the time the South China Sea campaign is set her sister ships Connecticut and Jimmy Carter had not yet been built. As with Narwhal, if you lose her, you're forced to pick another kind of submarine to continue.
  • Technology Marches On: In-Universe. In the 1968 campaign, the player can select a Skipjack, Permit, Narwhal, or Sturgeon-class SSN armed with powerful WWII-era Mk-18 straight running torpedoes for dealing with surface ships and newer, weaker Mk-37 wire-guided antisubmarine homing torpedoes. The Russians have a similar level of technology. In 1984, you get access to the Los Angeles class sub, the experimental one-off USS ''Narwhal'', the more capable Mk-48 wire-guided torpedo, and UGM-84 Harpoon and UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Russians get their own new toys, including Typhoon, Delta, Sierra, and Kilo-class submarines, Kirov-class battlecruisers, Sovremmeney-class destroyers, and cruise missile-deployed antisub torpedoes. And in 2000, you can get the Los Angeles Flight II and III class subs, USS Seawolf, and the improved Mk-48 ADCAP torpedo, whereas the Chinese get both the latest Chinese and Russian submarines and surface shipsnote .
  • Too Dumb to Live: The activities of some civilian trawlers can feel like this. Who the hell goes fishing in an active war zone?
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: The December 2017 update added neutral civilian ships and oil rigs to the battlefield. If you sink too many neutrals you will be pulled from duty by the Master-at-Arms pending court-martial.


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