The newly-renamed Trion Worlds (used to be just Trion) is attempting to establish itself as a major player in the AAA game publisher world, specifically by specializing in massively multiplayer games. It’s a robust, money-making genre, even beyond the insane market share of World of Warcraft, and focusing on MMO games by hiring top-notch industry talent and working with strong partners seems to make sense.
One of those partners, Petroglyph Studios is bringing their expertise in building real-time strategy games like Star Wars: Empire at War and Universe at War: Earth Assault and collaborating with Trion’s large scale social gaming platform. The result is an honest to gosh MMORTS, where large groups of gamers will team up with their respective armies on huge maps to battle it out versus the A.I. or each other, all the while effecting the overall, persistent game world. Other games have experimented with the idea, but End of Nations intends to do it like no other.
Set 30-50 years in the future, End of Nations has that near-future, militaristic look to it that should be familiar to anyone who’s played Command & Conquer or one of its dozens of descendants. The story here has to do with a planet ruled by an oppressive one-world government that rose to power after a global-wide economic collapse. The Order of Nations is the big bad villain here, and you will spend a lot of time fighting against its oppressive forces, including some enormous battlewagons that are like battleships on wheels. You best play with some friends when you take on something like that.
But how many friends are we talking about here? Trion and Petroglyph are claiming 50-plus when playing against the A.I. together. That’s something no one has ever done in an RTS, and could make for an interesting experience, provided the maps are big enough. But the game’s makers want to make it clear that there will be a significant amount of enjoyment to be found for solo players. Playing either way earns you loot in the form of salvage parts, which you use to help build and upgrade your army.
That army stays at a home base that you don’t have to worry about building or defending from attack. It’s your fortress of solitude, where you keep dozens of variations of different vehicles in sets, deciding before you roll out into battle what units you’re going to take with you. Your commander class defines what kind of vehicles you can build (there are no infantry-type units to deal with), with tank, artillery and strike having access to different types as well as class-specific powers and special attacks.
Mixing the gameplay rules of two divergent genres may seem strange to some gamers, but maybe the real-time strategy genre is long overdue for a rethinking like it gets in End of Nations. The prospect of playing an action-oriented RTS with so many friends is a very appealing one nonetheless, and if End of Nations can provide a satisfying experience for strategy gamers while engaging people long term the way MMOs are capable of, then maybe the MMORTS moniker wont seem so weird anymore.