Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 is yet another First-Person Shooter that is based around World War II. However, there are two key differences: it focuses entirely on the Eastern Front with conflicts between the Germans and Soviets (a setting usually forgotten by WWII FPS, probably because of the usual America Won World War II portrayal); its focus is entirely on realism. There are no crosshairs, no health kits, and bullets follow the standard laws of physics (mostly).
It started out as a mod of Unreal Tournament 2003. As an infantryman, you have the choice of playing several different classes: an assault trooper with a sub-machine gun; a sniper with a scoped rifle (the rifle shakes like crazy unless you're bracing it against something, and you have to account for bullet-drop when firing a long distance); a machine gunner (depending on the type, the barrel can overheat and you will have to manually replace it with another barrel); a bolt-action rifleman (the only class which has unlimited slots); a semi-automatic rifleman; and the squad leader, who is basically just an assault trooper with smoke grenades. On maps where there are tanks, you also have the option of playing as a tank crewman, a tank commander (the only classes that can drive tanks), or an anti-tank trooper who starts out with a gun that can destroy tanks with one or two shots to less armored areas. Tanks are also handled realistically in that you either need at least two people to drive them (one to drive, one to fire and reload the gun), or one person who switches very fast between the two positions (which is an Acceptable Break from Reality, since waiting 30 seconds to switch from the driver's seat to the turret does not make for exciting gameplay).
Maps consist of either pure infantry battles, pure tank battles where everyone has to play a tank crewman/commander, and combined arms battles which use both infantry and tanks. Strategy revolves around capture points, where one side has to capture a certain amount of area in a given time and the defenders have to stop them. Each side is also assigned a number of 'reinforcements,' which indicate how many times a player can respawn after death. Once they reach zero, no one can respawn anymore. If any side is at 0% reinforcements and has all of their members killed, then they lose regardless of any other factor.
The game itself, as a mod, was released in the Editor's Choice Edition of Unreal Tournament 2004, (alongside Alien Swarm, itself another Ascended Fanfic) and sprang from an entry in a mod contest held by Epic Games, with first prize being a million dollars and free Unreal Engine 2 licenses. They won, and founded Tripwire Interactive on the spot. There are two mods for Red Orchestra called Darkest Hour, which focuses on the Western Front after D-day, and Mare Nostrum, which focuses on the battle in the Mediterranean and features Italian troops.
The sequel, Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, was released in September 2011. Focusing on the infamously brutal Battle of Stalingrad and the surrounding area instead of spanning the entire Eastern Front, the sequel adds a first-person cover system and a leveling system that gives players weapon upgrades as they become more experienced.
The sequel's stand-alone expansion Rising Storm was released in May 2013, set in the Pacific and featuring much more asymmetrical gameplay between the American Allies and Japanese Axis factions - the former having generally more direct firepower in their weapons (such as the basic rifleman being able to equip themselves with a semi-automatic rifle as opposed to the bolt-action rifles every other faction's riflemen uses, and a flamethrower class) while the latter utilizes special grenade uses for Suicide Attacks or Booby Traps, a player-held mortar class (while all other factions have to mark locations for the team's commander to call in fire missions on the location) and Banzai charges.
The next title in the series, Rising Storm 2: Vietnam is set in The Vietnam War, departing the World War II setting of the past games. It pits the American military, with later updates including the ARVN and Australian Army, against the North Vietnamese Army and National Liberation Front (Viet Cong). Expanding on the asymmetrical gameplay of the first Rising Storm, the Americans have access to several types of airstrikes, including napalm, along with helicopters of both attack and transport types, while the North Vietnam forces have several types of Booby Traps such as punji sticks and tripwire traps. Their squad leaders also have the ability to dig tunnels in open ground, allowing reinforcements to pour into areas away from the front lines.
The Red Orchestra series took its name from the Soviet Union's espionage network during the war, which was called the Red Orchestra by the Gestapo. This game otherwise has no connection to spying.
Note: Tropes for Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, Rising Storm, and Rising Storm 2: Vietnam now go on their game's own respective pages. This video-game provides examples of:
- Artificial Stupidity: The AI bots that play the combat engineers have a nasty habit of dropping their timed det packs in the middle of a group of friendlies.
- Artifact Title: Inverted in regards to the "Orchestra" part at least. The maps originally had no music playing when the game was first released, a later update added music as an option.
- Asymmetric Multiplayer: Small in early entries, larger in later ones.
- Battle Cry: Holding down the melee attack button while sprinting can cause your character to elicit a battle-cry.Aaannnnngrrriiiffff!
- BFG: Anti-tank rifles in both Red Orchestra games have an even stricter requirement by being impossible to fire when not set up.
- Boom, Headshot!: A One-Hit Kill.
- Character Class System: Present in all games.
- Fackler Scale of FPS Realism: Very, very much on the realistic end.
- Friend or Foe?: The games' sides have different uniforms and sprint in noticeably different manners (Axis hold their weapon with just their right hand while Allies hold it with both) but the uniforms are of a fairly dull palette and you can die really fast should you be mistaken that an individual is an ally - some game modes allow you to see your allies on your map but this may require pressing a button first to check which a player may not want to take the time to utilize in a tense battle. Shooting your own side is so common there is a simple mechanic in Heroes of Stalingrad onward for forgiving an ally who has killed you by typing "np" in chat to give them back the points they've lost from killing you - players would be best to try to not take such incidents too seriously.
- Game-Breaking Bug: The suppression mechanic is reaaaalllly bugged. As an example, allied fire can cause it if you're too close to them, rendering your screen blurry and and cause your weapon to shake around the screen like you're in a bouncy castle from a teammate shooting his sub-machine gun at enemies down range while next to you.
- Penetration for shots depends on the material shot through first for the firing player and basically ignore any other materials that may be between the first one and the target, potentially letting them shoot through some thick walls and hit enemies on the other side if they shoot through flimsy metal sheets or wood planks first.
- Game Mod: Began life as one, and won one of the "Make Something Unreal" contests. The retail version has two mods itself - Darkest Hour and Mare Nostrum.
- And the developers hired the Darkest Hour team to create an expansion for Heroes of Stalingrad set in the Pacific with the American and Japanese armies. Apart from this, the developers already released the SDK to several modders so they could create mods early: there is a Vietnam War mod and a WW1 mod. This all before the game even released.
- The remaining Darkest Hour developers formed Jackboot Games and are now working on their own standalone WWII game: Festung Europa.
- Groin Attack: A killing shot to the groin has the unique kill-icon of an acorn lying on its side, cracked all the way through it.
- Hitscan: Averted. Ballistics need to be taken into account for every ranged weapon.
- HUD: There is one, but it provides neither crosshair nor exact bullet count, unlike most other FPSs.
- Law of Inverse Recoil: The game tries to avert this as much as possible, but ultimately fails because there's nex to no distinction made for what kind of bullet is being fired from your gun; a full-sized rifle firing 7.62x54mmR is infinitely more usable than a 7.62x25mm submachine gun that's less than half as long as it and comes with a ton more ammo, because both kick the same amount per bullet, but the former has a forced delay between shots as you manually work the bolt to chamber the next round (meaning the recoil is well and done by the time you're ready to fire again) while the latter fires at one-thousand two-hundred rounds per minute.
- Meaningful Name: In addition to the above about the name "Red Orchestra", Ostfront is German for "eastern front".
- One Bullet Clips: Averted. In fact, you don't even HAVE an exact bullet count on the HUD - just the number of remaining clips or magazines and some text describing the weight of the current mag after a reload. Kind of like Jurassic Park: Trespasser, but without the voices. In Heroes of Stalingrad, characters will reload box magazines on weapons that use them and toss out the last clip, but will insert rounds one by one into rifles, unless the rifle is totally empty, in which they will insert a full magazine via stripper clips. With the telescopic scope getting in way for the Marksman class' rifles, they always insert rounds one by one for reloading.
- Classes with Magazines keep half empty magazines on them instead of tossing them, and you can also swap those mags out again if you feel you need more ammo. Always make sure to check your ammo before attacking, or you might run into the enemy with two rounds left in the mag.
- One-Hit Kill: Very likely, though not always. Along with Boom, Headshot! being a One-Hit Kill common with other games, a shot to the heart is also guaranteed to be fatal, and both headshots and heartshots have a special kill-icon specific to them, independent of weaponry.
- Nicknaming the Enemy: The Germans call their enemies Bolsheviks and Ivan. The Russians reciprocate with fascists and Fritz.
- Nintendo Hard: To be expected with all the focus on realism.
- Poirot Speak: Used by both Germans and Russians, but there is an option to allow all vocalizations to be made in the native language.
- Shout-Out: Rising Storm 2's Steam achievements just don't stop with the Shout Outs. It starts with the obligatory famous Vietnam War media references, just goes on from there...It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Jimi Hendrix, The Simpsons, the list goes on.
- Smoke Out: Proper use of squad leaders' smoke grenades onto enemy positions to cover your flanks is vital for attacking. Poor use is likely to just blind yourself and your own allies.
- Sprint Meter: In both games. When it's low, it also becomes difficult to aim steadily. You can also hold the sprint button while standing still to hold your breath, steadying your aim.
- Tanks, but No Tanks: While the game doesn't misclassify vehicles and a great deal of effort is made to be as accurate as possible, the armor model is overly simplified, likely due to engine limitations, resulting in things like turrets having the same armor all the way around, which means that in-game, a T-34/85 cannot penetrate the side of a Panther tank's turret, which it should be able to do easily.
- Universal Driver's License: Averted. Not only do you need to be a tank commander to drive a tank, tanks need multiple crewmen to function efficiently. However, a player going it alone can drive, then switch seats to the gunner position when needed. Many players do this almost exclusively. Solo tankers can use the movement keys from the gunner/commander positions to direct their driver, though there's naturally a delay between pressing the key and the driver responding, unlike controlling the driver directly. Of course, driving-by-order from the gunner/commander position also makes it hell to navigate unless you take the very risky measure of popping your head out the top hatch and subsequently having every sniper in the area trying to see who can hit closest to your nose.
- War Is Hell: Opting for a Show, Don't Tell approach instead of outright saying it, this series never flinches from the fact that combat was often short, terrifying and brutal. While the first game "merely" had soldiers being dismembered or reduced to gibs from explosions, 2 and the Rising Storm series go further with soldiers often twitching or writhing in pain from mortal wounds, and the screams, whimpers and gurgles of dying men's last moments echoing through the battlefield.