Atari and Liquid unsheathe Dragonshard

Due in 2005, the new D&D RTS from the War of the Ring developer will incorporate RPG elements.

Shortly after it announced that work had started on Neverwinter Nights 2, Atari has revealed development of another Dungeons & Dragons title. The publisher is partnering with Liquid Entertainment to create Dragonshard, a PC real-time strategy game set for release in spring 2005.

Liquid is the studio behind last year's The Lord of The Rings: War of the Ring, another RTS based on J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novels, not Peter Jackson's films. Even though War of the Ring was not a resounding success, Atari expressed full confidence in Liquid's abilities. "Ed Del Castillo and the team at Liquid Entertainment have a long history with the real-time strategy genre stretching all the way back to the original Command & Conquer," said Atari executive producer John Hight.

Set in Eberron, a Dungeons & Dragons realm recently created by D&D license owners Wizards of the Coast, Dragonshard will not be merely another fantasy RTS. "Dragonshard will take real-time strategy in new directions by using many of the unique aspects of...traditional role-playing," said Hight. "We are also taking advantage of new surface-level terrain-rendering technology to give the player two distinct levels of play; new squad and leader tactical functionality to give the player an all-new army experience; [and] a new base development system."

Dragonshard's story will concern three factions battling for control of Eberron. The key to their success will be a huge dragonshard known as the Heart of Siberys, which is hidden in a remote, windswept corner of Eberron.

The first faction, The Order of the Silver Flame, "is an alliance of humans and dwarves from the land of Khorvaire." Their army will be made up of a variety of specialized units, including knights, wizards, priests, and rogues. Guided by a clairvoyant shaman, the Order's goal is to destroy the dragonshard to prevent if from falling into the wrong hands.

Those hands, at least as far as the Order is concerned, belong to the Umbragen, the game's second faction. Primarily made up of a race of dark elves, the Umbragen's army also includes dark magic users and elite undead units. Led by the evil wizard Satros, their goal is to acquire the dragonshard and use it for their own evil ends.

The third faction "remains veiled and mysterious, its intentions unknown," according to Atari. Presumably more details about said group will be revealed as Dragonshard's release date approaches.

Dragonshard will also include two uncontrollable factions: the Illithids, longtime foes of the Umbragen, and a host of golems constructed by an extinct elven race to guard the dragonshard.

GameSpot will have more details on Dragonshard as they become available.

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