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.
From the Commander's War Room, you'll be able to monitor hotspots around the globe, watch player achievements on the scrolling news network-style ticker, watch replays, then deploy your resources as necessary. End of Nations will feature drop-in style multiplayer, allowing players to join maps in progress then leave the map whenever real life beckons. Because of the size and scale of the maps, one player may or may not make a difference, but it's just as easy for a replacement to drop in. Each warzone will feature numerous missions and objectives that players should cooperate to complete, and also a subset of missions that are entirely soloable.
Nothing says autocrat like a giant holographic image (left), and scenes from a tank battle in eastern Russia.
Public warzones feature respawning enemies, including huge, raid-boss sized enemies like the Panzerhulk featured in the above trailer. To defeat gargantuan nasties like these, players will have to coordinate damage and even take out some tactical structures like EMP generators or missile launchers. Map navigation even on EoN's huge maps is made easy by a minimap, map, and map overlay, and the game uses the familiar friends are blue / foes red method for identifying units. Should you wish to call in some A-10s for an airstike (props to Petroglyph for post-strike barrel-rolling, chaff-popping military accuracy) or a fearsomely whistling off-map artillery strike (and who wouldn't?) you'll find the vaunted World in Conflict style directional overlays marking off the potential kill zone.
Just how massively multiplayer is End of Nations? Click play to see!
And after you fire for effect, you'll find the environment deliciously destructible. Fences and sandbags fly, foliage catches fire, and many structures and enemies disappear in a wholly satisfying cloud of shrapnel, exploding fuel and ammo, and maybe even a flying dude or two for good measure. The maps themselves are gorgeously, believably laid out. In the trailer you'll see battles raging around London's Big Ben, New York's Status of Liberty, and Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, but in the demoed eastern Russian warzone called Magadan we saw realism of a slightly grittier variety. Such visual treats as an impromptu shantytown constructed around a beached Iowa-class battleship, a partially destroyed wind farm, and the impact crater of a downed satellite highlighted the dystopian but not wholly decimated nature of the End of Nations world.
In short, End of Nations is an incredibly ambitious project, and it's been a while since we've seen this level of genre-revolutionizing chutzpah from a developer. It's refreshing and entirely welcome, and who better to attempt this kind of project than Petroglyph, a developer that has RTS in its DNA?
Stay tuned for more on End of Nations in the coming weeks!
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our End of Nations Game Page.