At Worlds End A Hands-On Look at End of Nations
By now most of you are at least somewhat familiar with the basic concept behind Trion Worlds’ upcoming End of Nations. Developed by Petroglyph, End of Nations combines key gameplay elements from MMOs and the RTS genre to create an interesting new style of gameplay. If you’re thinking something along the lines of DotA here, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Rather, EoN takes the idea of persistent characters that you can customize as you progress and marries it with a small army of units under your command.
When you first log into the game you’ll find yourself in the War Room. This is where you’ll be able to see and quickly access things like your friends list and guild members, as well details on any new missions or game updates. Think of this almost like an interactive game launcher, only instead of a basic client patcher status bar and fancy graphics display, the War Room is more like a gateway into the various key aspects of the game.
Senior Producer Chris Lena also pointed out that the War Room will allow you to keep track of the status of the PvP metagame. In End of Nations players will be able to join one of the two main factions and fight over territory control. Controlling territory will give you various benefits or rewards such as currency or different buffs for your units.
The PvP metagame is divided into seasons which can last somewhere around 2 or 3 months. At that point not only does the struggle for territory control begin anew, but Chris also pointed out that you’ll even be given the option to change factions as well. After being locked into day one faction decisions in MMOGs I was particularly glad to hear that EoN won’t be the type of game that forces you to abandon all of your progression and start fresh simply for wanting to play on the same side as your friends. That also opens up tons of potential for keeping factions balanced within the game over a longer period.
Chris was also quick to note that, while it may have been the core focus of the PAX demo, there’s a lot more to End of Nations than the PvP experience. As we were shown earlier this year at E3, the game also has plenty of intrieging, intense PvE missions that you can go out an experience in persistent world zones or even in personal instances, complete with epic boss battles.
It’s in those PvE missions that you’ll be able to level up your Commander Class which comes in one of three distinct flavors: Tank, Strike and Artillery. You’ll also be able to earn new abilities for your commander to use on the battlefield through the various types of PvE missions, and as you progress you’ll have access to unique tech trees for each class that will help your further define exactly which type of commander you want to play.
From the War Room you’ll also be able to access your persistent Headquarters. From here you’ll be able to build structures that will grant you different abilities on the battlefield such as super weapons. You’ll also be able to take care of any crafting tasks within your headquarters such as creating new ammunition or new units. From what we were shown these are fairly expansive areas, consisting of multiple structures laid out almost like a small-scale military base.
A key structure you’ll have access to in your headquarters is the Armory which is where you house your current unit collection. Among other things you’ll be able to customize both the primary and secondary colors for your units here. According Chris, you’ll be able to customize the look of your units at any time, though certain colors and decals will be reserved for players to earn as rewards.
From your headquarters you’ll be able to select your load-out for a given map. Each map and unit under your command has a value attached, so you’ll need to select which units you want to use but their combined value can’t exceed the value limit for that particular map. This seems like a clever solution to an age-old issue of balancing the relative power that each player can bring to the PvP table while still allowing for a certain amount of flexibility in terms of which specific units you’d prefer to run with on each map.
Heading out from the headquarters I was able to dive directly into the PvP map type they had available on the show floor. The specific map they had running was a capture point map in which both sides aim to take control of various parts of the map which helps them accumulate victory points for their side, with the first team reaching 2100 points winning the match.
While much of the action seemed to take place at the center of the map, there were also smaller control points at each corner of the map which proved to be much easier to flip. In fact, in my second match I helped my team go from the brink of defeat to a surprise victory simply by flipping the control points that had been left unattended by the red team who were all focused on the central map point for much of the match.
Mind you, only some of the key map locations awarded victory points for the side that owns them. Some instead gave access to upgradable super weapons, while others would award you PvP resources which you could then spend at a special vendor. All told, this adds a layer of tactical depth to how your side wants to approach the map – you can go straight for the victory points, however, you may instead want to first focus on building up the relative power of your team to help you clear out enemy units faster.
Much like in RTS gameplay, you’ll also be able to divide your available units into different control groups. So rather than going headlong into battle with your full force, you can also opt to split your units to cover more areas on the map. Defeated units can also be brought back into the fight relatively quickly, though during my demo time I was only able to bring one unit back at a time which would put that ability on cooldown.
The control scheme did take a little getting used to, as the current UI setup neatly splits your hotbars into two groups. On the left you’ll have access to each of your commander’s more RPG-like skills, while the buttons on the right are used to control the units under your command. By the end of my first match though, I felt fairly comfortable with the controls and had a blast seeing what kind of destruction I could cause with my different abilities.
Overall, I found my hands-on time with End of Nations to be one of the standout moments of the event. Like Trion Worlds’ other upcoming title at the show, Rift: Planes of Telara, EoN was one of the only titles I made a point of going back to play a second time. It’s not only one of the more visually stunning titles I saw at the show, but the gameplay I was able to experience offered a perfect blend of RTS tactics and RPG skill usage. It was a total blast to play, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of End of Nations in the coming months.