End of Nations Preview
The RTS genre has had a pretty odd lifetime. From bursting open onto the scene a fair few years ago it had a nice run until slowly dwindling out. Now when you mention any sort of online RTS the first and only game that comes to mind is the ever popular StarCraft series that still thrives to this day, being played as a competative, televised sport in many Asian countries.
This hasn’t sat well with a certain dev team, however. Petroglyph Games, a company fused together from former Westwood Studio brains, have created End of Nations, in an attempt to bring some popularity back to the RTS scene.
With a typical take on the area, the game focuses around a world literally at war. Choosing which side you’re fighting for, you’ll be able to build up a small squad of people including a number of vehicles and support to take to the battlefield and dominate. For an RTS, the game is pretty simple, and doesn’t stray too far from what everyone expects the game to bring.
Odd as it may seem, this is exactly what Petroglyph games were aiming for. The aim was to create a game that is worthy of current day shelving, which End of Nations is. With beautiful graphics and scenic maps, the game is very involving and keeps you engrossed through any sort of playtime. Not being a veteran to RTS’, I found myself captivated as I trudged my team across a map of luscious green and utter destruction, stopping every now and then to look around and take in what was being shown (to the dismay of my team mates).
This mixed with the simple controls, that allowed me to quickly pick up what I actually had to, and led to me actually enjoying what I was playing. Never once did I have to stop due to confusion, or have to figure out exactly what I was doing. The game ran smoothly, and allowed me to just enjoy what was going on.
With a simple interface comes what Petroglyph Games really wanted; an RTS that is simple, fun to play, and brings everyone onto the battlefield on the same level. Obviously people with excessive RTS backgrounds will be at an advantage, but the game allows for people who are completely new to the scene to access the genre on a much fairer base.
It’s what isn’t in the game that actually helps the game in this case. Firstly, there are no subscription models, despite the large portion of the game will be playing against other people online. Instead, everyone will have access to what the game will be offering, which includes all maps, all units, and all mods from the very get go. Any additions made and integrated later on will be made available to everyone at the same time.
With this method, End of Nations ensures that everyone will be on equal footing. The game will be purely about skill and practice, rather than how much free cash you have swimming around your wallet.
It continues to help the player, with an offline mode designed to help players get used to the RTS mechanics by pitting them against simple AI and increasing the difficulty, whilst also including a campaign to help ease people through the somewhat strenuous process.
Whilst these are all nice implementations, and it’s clear that End of Nations is designing itself to help players into a seemingly dying genre, the reason that the genre is so hardcore, especially on StarCraft, is that the games thrive purely from community. Without any sort of Community, these types of games, as with many MMO’s, would fizzle out and cease to exist.
As such, it’s only a matter of time before gamers either find this game and transfer over, or the community that it builds will develop the players to such a point that it’s near impossible to beat them if you don’t spend every moment of the day practicing. These are truths that can’t be avoided, and can be a positive or a negative depending on your perspective.
Petroglyph Games have definitely created a good game, and have obviously thought long and hard about the way they release it to the masses, being very aware of how the RTS market is working at the moment, but something niggles the back of mind in the sense that a year or two after the games release, we may be seeing a similar issue that we currently have with StarCraft.
It will remain to be seen, and if we take the ‘cross that bridge when we come to it’ approach, then End of Nations should definitely be on the watch list of those people who found the concept of an RTS interesting but didn’t want to throw themselves into the community pond of an RTS that only has the options of ‘deep’ or ‘even deeper’.