Updated Mon, Apr 26, 2010 by Ethec
Most real-time strategy gamers only have one game on their radar right now. It begins with a StarCraft and ends with a II. But Petroglyph and Trion World might soon up the ante on what you expect from your RTS with End of Nations, the most massively MMORTS we've seen yet. Built on Trion's scalable architecture platform, EoN reputedly supports more than 51 players on a single map. According to President Mike Legg, one of the many many SSI and Westwood vets at Petroglyph, this is the game they've always wanted to make, but the technology simply didn't exist until very recently.
For the first time ever in an MMO (to our knowledge), actual tanks fill the tank role.
The backstory was succinctly laid out with the CGI trailer you'll find below. In short, the economic crisis we're currently sweating out didn't end and, in fact, got much worse, leading to a food and energy crisis of almost apocalyptic proportions. Almost, meaning no full-scale nuclear war resulted. That's significant because, according to Mike, Petroglyph didn't want the game to unfold in a Fallout-esque wasteland world. And while Fallout is cool, what Petroglyph has done with the world in the 30-40 years to come is catastrophically cool as well. (But more on that below.)
The End of Nations story trailer:
Since dictatorships seldom waste a crisis, the Order of Nations came to power and restored order, but at a terrible cost. They've gone too far, and a groundswell resistance has formed against them. Players act as the resistance against the powers that be, leading to what Mike Legg described as PvE "like you've never seen before.
Players take on the role of Commander, plying their level-based abilities (such as different ammo types and recon abilities) and controlling a set of collectible, customizable, and craftable units around global warzones. In place of resource collection, commanders each have their own headquarters, featuring upgradable buildings such as airfields, research and manufacturing buildings, and presumably some kind of marketplace too.
All of these buildings aid players in combat, but key among these buildings is your armory. This is where you'll view, customize (with primary and secondary colors), upgrade, and modify your units, then gather them into combat-role ready sets. Possibilities we saw included a stealthy recon set, a medium range artillery set, a tanking a repair set, a mix of the three, or presumably any number of combinations. In the demo each Commander controlled under a dozen units, but Petroglyph's Chris Rubyor noted that the team is still determining how many units and of what variety you can bring to a battle. You can even let your friends take a look at your headquarters and collection, too.