The Battlestations series has always focused on gameplay over storyline, and as such multiplayer is where you'll find the most Battlestations: Pacific players. Multiplayer makes extreme use of the Support Manager, most notably for respawns. Knowledge of the Support Manager therefore is essential.
Players can also use the ships, subs, and planes unlocked in the single player campaign in multiplayer, in the form of a unit unlock. The Duel and Island Capture modes (and only those two) let players make use of these unlock units. By clicking on the "Unit Unlock" button at the bottom of the screen, players can choose one of their unlocks to bring into battle. It is highly recommended, therefore, that players obtain all of the game's unlocks (sans the jets) before going online, particularly into either Duel or Island Capture. This should be easy, as the game does not care which difficulty you complete the campaign on for these unlocks.
Upon destroying enemy units and structures, players accumulate points. At the end of the game, these points are put toward a player's official ranking. Once enough points are accumulated, players will advance in ranking. The rankings do not affect players or unlock any units, with the sole exception of the highest rank. The highest rank of Fleet Admiral unlocks the P-80 Shooting Star and the Japanese Kikka. Players creating games can choose a rank range which players are allowed to play; as such, a high rank may prevent you from joining certain games.
Some players choose to obtain points through a method known as boosting. Gathering enough points to reach the rank of Fleet Admiral (and thereby obtain the jets) takes an extremely long time. Some players, opting not to spend this time, use boosting as a means to get there. Players usually create an Island Capture mission with a friend, then position a fleet of destroyers near an island's shipyard. Since shipyards constantly regenerate health, it is possible to destroy this shipyard repeatedly, thereby earning points. After leaving the game operating overnight, players then end the game and receive a large sum of points from the shipyards they repeatedly neutralized. Some players condemn boosting as cheating; others consider it the only "feasible" way to obtain the jets. Boosters beware, however - it is possible to completely skip getting the Fleet Commander achievement if you boost so much you skip the Lieutenant rank completely and proceed directly from Lt. Jr. Grade to Lt. Commander.
The ranks and their approximate point requirements are listed below.
|Seaman Second Class||15 000|
|Seaman First Class||45 000|
|Petty Officer 3rd Class||80 000|
|Petty Officer 2nd Class||120 000|
|Petty Officer 1st Class||160 000|
|Chief Petty Officer||205 000|
|Warrant Officer||400 000|
|Chief Warrant Officer||600 000|
|Ensign||1 200 000|
|Lieutenant Junior Grade||1 600 000|
|Lieutenant||2 000 000|
|Lieutenant Commander||2 400 000|
|Commander||3 000 000|
|Captain||3 600 000|
|Commodore||4 200 000|
|Rear Admiral||5 000 000|
|Vice Admiral||5 800 000|
|Admiral||6 600 000|
|Fleet Admiral||8 000 000|
After having played a battle against someone, you can choose to submit a review for them. Good reviews look favourably on a player's gamer card, which displays the players' reputation. Reputation is not earned from winning battles, it's from being a good player. In the (unfortunate) event you need to submit a bad review, you will be prompted to be specific as to why you are submitting a poor review, from one of several options. Players will then be able to determine why others find that person unlikable by viewing their rep from their gamer card.
There are several game modes to choose from, as well as eight official maps. Others were added with the Volcano and Carrier Map Packs respectively, which must be downloaded from Xbox Live Marketplace or Games for Windows.
There are a total of five game modes to choose from.
Escort missions are the closest players can get to the original Battlestations: Midway game mode. The game mode is somewhat misleading, as missions where both sides must protect key units are also considered escort missions.
The escort mission, unlike the original Battlestations game mode, does not allow play as multiple units, drawing the criticism of Midway players who were seeking something close to what they were used to. Perhaps because of this, Escort missions are generally not very popular as game modes. That said expect a handful of players to be up for one, even if they prefer island capture.
As with every other game mode, escort missions allow players to spawn a single unit. Although there are unlimited respawns, players must choose carefully their spawn point - it is very difficult, if not impossible, to "delete" your unit and begin again. Escort is one of the few mission types where players can select different spawn points. Choosing the wrong spawn point can put you out of the fight for a long time, and potentially can cost you the game. Proficiency of the Support Manager, therefore, is essential.
Official Description: This mode allows you to participate in a battle where the attacker's goal is to eliminate a unit or squadron, and the defender's goal is to not let that happen. The session ends if the defenders manage to protect the unit until it reaches its destination, or it survives for a given time period. If the attackers destroy the unit, they win. This mode offers an exciting battle focused on the survival of a unit or squadron.
Siege missions revolve around capturing an enemy stronghold whilst trying to stay alive, or defending the base until the attackers run out of resources. Unfortunately, games rarely ever get to the point where the island actually gets captured.
Both the attackers and defenders have a strength tab that keeps track of an abstract number. This number represents the approximate strength of the attacking or defending side. By sinking enemy units, you can force the enemy's strength to fall. The game rarely ever ends when the island gets captured - it usually ends when one side's strength hits zero.
Siege maps usually revolve around giving air support to a landing of some sort - only a select few maps actually have playable ships in them. Expect a lot of flying in most Siege maps. Siege is generally the least common game type, probably due to the large limit the game places on selectable units. Additionally, several siege maps favour one side, and are not balanced. Rocket Corsairs in particular are extremely powerful against the lightly-armoured landing ships.
Official Description: This mode allows you to assist a landing operation or a fleet defence. A game session lasts until the attackers lose all of their resources, or the defenders fail to protect their assets. This game mode offers you the chance to take part in a huge landing operation by giving naval and aerial support.
The closest players can get to a cooperative game mode, Competitive is the only game mode where all eight players are on a single side. The goal of the competitive mode is to eliminate more enemy AI units than all your opponents.
Listed at the top left of your screen is both your score and the highest score. There's no second or third place reward - either you get the highest score and win, or you don't.
In nearly every competitive match, some units become bracketed with a gold objective bracket. A message then notifies you to destroy the specified target for bonus points. This target is extremely valuable, and should be destroyed at the first opportunity. However, know that the kill is awarded to the player who scored the finishing blow. If you critically wound a ship, but a rival manages to land the killing blow, no points are received! The same applies for aircraft: points are awarded to the player who shoots down the last plane in the squadron.
Competitive games usually end upon a time or score limit, but it is possible for a game to end prematurely. The AI can end the game prematurely by completing its objective (or rather, forcing your team to fail an objective). An example is if players are charged with defending an island base, and shooting down more attackers than their rivals. If the enemy manages to capture the base, the game will still end, and the victory is awarded to the player with the highest score.
Attacking friendlies will reduce your score.
Official Description: The goal of this game mode is to attack the enemy AI to achieve the highest score. In multiplayer this game mode lets you compete against your friends while fighting for the same goal. Attacking allied units will reduce your score.
The most straightforward multiplayer battle there is, players can choose to fight using one of four unit types. Using only this unit type, they must destroy the opposing team. The last plane flying or last ship floating wins.
There is little to no strategy involved in this game mode, as it is very similar to Steel Monsters from Midway. Unlike Steel Monsters, however, players can only choose to spawn as only the specified unit. The units are:
- Heavy cruisers
Battleship duels are among the most popular ways to gain points, as sinking battleships are worth quite a bit. The winner is the team which wins the most rounds (last ship floating wins the round) after a set time, or the team to reach the win cap (i.e. "best of three", "best of five", etc.).
Official Description: Duel mode allows you to fight against other players or the AI in a chosen unit class. A game session is built up of many rounds. A round ends if a team is completely eliminated. The team which wins the most rounds wins the session. This mode offers a simple and quick, action oriented game play. A single round takes only a couple of minutes.
By far the most popular game mode online, and the only mode in which players can control multiple units, Island Capture obviously revolves around capturing islands. Each team has a fixed number of Command Points, spread evenly throughout the team, which dictates how many and of what kind of unit to spawn. Stronger units require more command points. They must then use these units to capture more islands than the opposing team.
Capturing islands yields three important bonuses: firstly, every base captured increases the rate at which players gain victory points. The team with the most victory points when the timer hits zero, or the team which reaches the most victory points first, wins the game. Secondly, if enabled, the islands allow the use of a Naval Supply. Control of the naval supply goes to the player who captured the island. Thirdly, each base has a large line of sight, and can help prevent sneak attacks on your other bases.
Certain islands allow players to spawn units. These islands have their own defences, and are known as Headquarters. It is possible to claim victory by eliminating all of the enemy's HQs. Many headquarters spawn different units than others - the center island in Dreadnought, for example, is the only island capable of spawning battleships. This makes certain islands extremely contested.
Data on the BSP Island capture maps is presented as a map and as a table. The map will indicate where all the supply bases (marked "SB") and headquarters (marked "HQ") are. The table shows which units can be spawned at each headquarters. Naval supplies vary from mission to mission, so that data is not listed.
Command Points are not awarded like victory points, but rather are similar to a population cap on RTSes. These points prevent overpopulation and provide a challenge to players; rather than simply amassing a fleet of Yamatos or Iowas, then charging the enemy's base, players must make the most of what points they are given. The host can choose to have either 300, 600, 900, or 1200 command points allotted per team. 1200 is by far the most popular, for obvious reasons. Points are evenly divided between all players; at 1200 each player in a four player team would receive 300 points apiece. When players quit, the points and units are split amongst the remaining players. However, the redistribution of points is extremely glitchy and can result in negative command points, or other oddities. As soon as a unit is removed from the map, destruction or otherwise, the points spent on the unit are instantly returned to the owner's command point reserve and can be immediately put to use on a new unit.
Click on the different headquarters on the listed maps to show which units they can spawn.
Official Description: In this strategic game mode two teams are fighting for the control of a huge area with different bases and outposts. Players have access to a wide scale of naval and aerial units, and every captured base grants them new units and improvements. Island Capture sessions offer 30 minutes to 2 hours of game play.
Ranked vs. Player Matches
There is very little difference between Ranked versus Player (Unranked) matches. Both have the same maps and exactly the same layout. In neither mode is there an all-chat feature which allows you to talk to your opponents.
The major differences are:
- In ranked matches, you gain points that increase your rank. No points are gained for Player (unranked) matches. Note that it is impossible to lose points or ranks, even in ranked matches.
- It is possible to use the Games for Windows Live "Invite to Game" feature to invite players to unranked matches. This option is, for unknown reasons, unavailable for ranked ones.
- Upon conclusion of a game, ranked players are returned to the multiplayer lobby. After an unranked game, players are instead returned to the same lobby they are in.
- Player matches will not count toward achievements that count online sessions, such as Wrath of the Empire (play 100 online sessions as the Japanese).
In short, ranked matches are far more popular and recommended than unranked matches.