When a game can turn a dislike into a giddy excitement, you know it has
done something right. Petroglyph and Trion Worlds’ End of Nations
has done just that
You see, I suck at RTS games. Really badly. I remember distinctly one
particular LAN party I had attended in which the other party-goers
wanted to play StarCraft
one to go against the grain, I agreed. I had played the game
occasionally before, but I had never been so brutally and swiftly
exterminated as on that night. It was humiliating. And it happened
repeatedly. There is no fun in that for me. Call me old fashioned, but
I don’t enjoy games that I suck at. And I don’t
desire to get better at them.
So, RTS fan, I am not. I was, however, willing to put aside my
prejudice to take a look at End of
at E3 this year.
You want big guns?
We met with Chris Lena, Senior MMO Producer at Trion Worlds for the
game. Chris walked us through a bit of the game and explained what was
going on. The introduction was fairly simple. On screen was the war
room. There, data from the entire game was displayed. Friends lists,
events, guild headlines, maps, arsenals. Should you collect entire
battalion sets of a certain type, you can cash in on bonuses, much like
you would by collecting an armor set in an RPG.
We then took a look at our headquarters. Every player will have their
own persistent safehouse where they can display their trophies and
awards, or just spend some time to regroup. As you get higher level,
you can get bigger and better properties, allowing you to build bigger
and better structures.
Ok, that’s all fine. But what about the gameplay? PvP is, of
course, available, complete with a meta game of two warring factions
vying for control; a classic scenario with which current and future
warmongers will enjoy. And even though there will be fun to be had with
that aspect of the game, it was not something we focused on at the
So what was it? What made my attitude toward the game go from
“meh,” to “cool”? It was those
letters Chris mentioned when he was telling us the genre of the game:
“M M O.”
As the world’s first real MMORTS it soon become clear that
genre makes as much sense as jam on a peanut butter sandwich. The
controls of the game are very much MMO. Hotkeys and a
interface make it very easy to figure out. Certain abilities heal;
certain abilities do damage, and others just plain kick ass.
As we progressed through the mission, the MMORPG similarities become
more and more obvious. The mission progressed much like a dungeon would
in an MMORPG. But instead of having a single character avatar of your
own joined by a few of your friends, you control an army. And your
friends control their armies. You can team up to work your way through
the mission and take out the boss at the end. Strategy and
solving are elements are as much a part of the gameplay as brute force
and combat. New commander abilities as you gain experience are the
finishing touches to make this game a true harmonic marriage of MMO
style gameplay in an RTS.
Petroglyph has spent time in the details with this game. Many RTS games
have a fairly limited scope of camera range. End of Nations
allows a fully
rotatable camera in 360 degrees. It also allows for tilt and zoom. The
zoom is particularly impressive as that’s what shows off the
detail in the models. Zoom in close to see men manning the guns of a
tank, or the etchings in the plated armor of heavy guns. The textures
are crisp and again, the detail is commendable.
So I probably still won’t be much use in large RTS player
player battles. But given that the MMO aspect of this game is very real
and very evident; the detail is well thought out, offering an engaging
level of immersion; and that the progression is rewarding and
motivating, I’m much more likely to be playing it come launch
than I would be with any other single player or
multiplayer-versus-battles-only RTS game. Perhaps the most exciting
aspect is that it’s quite possible Petroglyph and Trion
are going to open the doors to a fresh new genre for all of us gamers
to enjoy for years to come.