E3 '07: Universe At War Updated Impressions

Petroglyph shows off a new race and some new features of the upcoming Universe At War at E3 2007.

Petroglyph's team of designers is no stranger to the real-time strategy genre. Most people know them from their work on last year's Star Wars: Empire At War, but many of the developers have years of experience in the genre, ranging back to the original Command and Conquer game, and Dune II games that were developed at Westwood in the 1990's. Now, though, they're bringing their experience into the next generation with Universe at War, an original RTS game that will come to both the PC and the Xbox 360.

Click to enlarge!

You may know the basic storyline behind Universe At War from our previous coverage, but just in case: Earth has been invaded by a trio of alien races that intend to use it as the centerpiece of a more widespread war. Humanity is largely eradicated in the first days of the war, although some pockets of resistance manage to survive the warfare, and will even be playable during the first tutorial mission of the game. The bulk of the game, however, will revolve around the conflict between the three alien races and their attempts to erase the others from the surface of the Earth. Each of the races features unique units and abilities, and Petroglyph claims that they're more differentiated than any RTS has featured since the original StarCraft.

The two previously-revealed races are the Hierarchy and the Novus. The Hierarchy are the dominant race in the universe, and act as the galactic bullies, having previously defeated both of the other races in the ongoing war. It's a mostly robotic race, featuring lumbering fortresses that act as mobile bases and warships. The articulation on the graphics here is wonderful, with each leg creaking along individually as the war machines creep slowly along the landscape. The Hierarchy's special ability is the hardpoints on its gigantic walker units.

The second race is the Novus, a highly technical army that relies less on firepower than on trickery and guile. The Novus were almost wiped out by the Hierarchy in the past, and rely on their networking ability to survive. This faction's special ability is to download software patches for their units that unlock new abilities. You might want to patch your entire army to “overclock” them, which will boost their offensive abilities at the cost of defense, for instance. You can only have a couple of patches downloaded at any given time, however. Novus resource collectors will broadcast a signal to numerous other structures in the web of buildings that the Novus constructs, allowing units to travel from one structure to another instantly by breaking themselves down into nanite components and traveling along the network. Instant travel around the map has been seen in other RTS games before, but the graphical effect here is pretty neat. Many of the Novus units can also switch between different modes of use depending on the situation; we were shown a stationary railgun defensive structure that could be morphed into an energy shield when the Hierarchy heavy guns came stomping along.

The third and final race that Petroglyph revealed to us today is the Masari, a race of ancient space explorers that may have visited Earth in the past and influenced many of the mythic images that swim around in humanity's collective unconscious. Their units feature a number of structures that will seem familiar, consisting as they do of Aztec-style buildings, Egyptian pyramids, and the like. Many of the units resemble angels, dragons, and other iconic creatures that have popped up in mythologies and religions around the world. The Masari have the capability to shift their entire base and all associated units from light to dark at the switch of a button, the effects of which will depend on the unit and the map you're on. For example, some of the Masari's most powerful units can fly while their civilization is in light mode. If you flip to dark mode, they'll become grounded, but will gain an energy shield to protect them from damage. We're sure there's more behind this transformation than meets the eye, though.

Click to enlarge!

In addition to the new race, Petroglyph also revealed the existence of hero units in the game. These hero units consist of remarkable individuals from each race that, while powerful in battle, aren't so overweeningly awesome that you feel the need to reload a saved game if they die. We did manage to see a couple of the heroes of the Masari, including their king and queen. Queen Alataer can use her calming influence to spread a sphere of peace in an area around her, causing all units to stop attacking, and also eliminating all missiles that are in the air, which is especially useful when combating enemy superweapons. The king is capable of issuing a small gravity field in the area around him, sucking up nearby units (even friendly ones), damaging them, and flinging them off into the air. Each race will have three hero units to play around with in the final game.

Universe At War is looking pretty exceptional at this point, so we're looking forward to its release on the PC this fall. It'll also come out early next year on the 360, with a twist: Petroglyph is planning for it to be the first third-party game to offer interoperability between the two versions, so that you'll be able to play against people on both platforms, regardless of the version that you own. We'll have more on this and other aspects of Universe at War as it comes closer to its release date, so stay tuned to GameSpot!

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36 comments
Vangaurdius
Vangaurdius

Like others have said it isn't original *cough Stargate *cough. But I think it will be fun. And stop complaining about graphics, they look great, though me and I am sure a lot of other people can't get the quality to that level. After all, todays computers are hugely overpriced to a point of being unfordable. So good for you for having a nice computer, but stop whining about graphics so the rest of us don't have to scroll through comment after comment about that. Instead, comment on the other aspects of the game that actually matter. I expect this game will be good since SW EAW and SW FOC. But I want a demo.

Smoov_B
Smoov_B

How can anyone say the graphics look terrible? They may not be jaw dropping gorgeous but they're decent enough. And I'm loving some of the original character creation here. Some really cool designs.

42316
42316

Lets give this game a chance shall we..............the 3 factions look so damn cool and will definitely play different to each other........I'm liking it a lot......the gfx don't look bad and they still have time ti make it better.........

klinsi
klinsi

@MarcoSnow06 Yeah, I agree with u too about Masari faction & the odd of pitting PC Vs Console but as we always know, I think the control for console will be more simple yet pretty powerful enough to stand toe a toe with PC player, like what we had been seen in Halo 2 with console player had a powerfull option called "AUTO AIM" Bah... a good FPS & RTS should be release & launched ONLY FOR PC (cuz they had mouse & keyboard) but as we know too that the financial pressure always talk Console always get the best game in action but why PC only had few ? While console had more & more good FPS ? @urquanster OK Bro, lets see what this game looks like when they out despite what we had been see what they had been done with SW EAW Yeah, I hope they can learn much from that SW EAW many mistakes @Rolling Zeppelin Yeah, Bro agree with u too Although the concept maybe old but as long as the game developer can tweak that old concept and being more creative & innovative enought to make that old concept look bright & shine again, no problemo, I think I hope this game wil be more much better than SW EAW & especially C&C 3 TW that got too many superb rating despite this game is absolutely just like C&C TS that get a whole new graphic but with super duper ugly FMV, brainless AI, blind pathfinding, many bug, and more I hope the pop caps for this game will be more than 8 or even 25 ! Maybe 200 or more ? For God Sake, what the point of waging star wars when there are only few units ??? I feared that those brainless setting will be there in this game again We need more much units to represent interstellar war ! @snipercomplete Nah.. I dont think we can use human faction except in tutorial only

snipercomplete
snipercomplete

these stories are confusing me, they always say there are 3 races, and most of the game revolvels about them, but i want to know if in multiplayer/skirmish if you can be humans, since you play as them in the tutorial. so anyone if humans are avalable in skirmish/multiplay, or only tutorial?

AowprTheGreat
AowprTheGreat

I'll probably get this game, it looks good (and I don't mean the graphics, those aren't that great compared to other DirectX 10 games).

haesuse
haesuse

i am gonna have to agree with georse, i am smelling some doodoo in making here. i pass!

RollingZeppelin
RollingZeppelin

"KratosAurion7 I looks pretty neat. But i think the concept of " 3 distinct races" is pretty old. Of course it helps that all races are pretty different races but you can be sure that each races will have units specifically made to counter a certain unit of an opposing faction. This is an old concept, drop it." Would you prefer all factions play exactly the same like in C&C 3? Yes its an old concept, but it's a good one that should never have been left out.

Georse
Georse

Does anyone else smell a big piece of cr*p in the making here?

KratosAurion7
KratosAurion7

I looks pretty neat. But i think the concept of " 3 distinct races" is pretty old. Of course it helps that all races are pretty different races but you can be sure that each races will have units specifically made to counter a certain unit of an opposing faction. This is an old concept, drop it.

urquanster
urquanster

This game looks like sh**... well pretty amateur work. I can't believe that in the year 2007 they found someone who paid for the development of such ugly looking piece of garbage.

Zeioinsanity
Zeioinsanity

"i was hoping more for like a cnc zero hour feel I hope the ehroes turn out to be more towards the zero hour heroes type and not like a godly unit that can do like massive damage and rape a small army" -LegionofClouds I have to say that that would take some doing on the rapists part... But I agree that heroes should not be uber killing machines that the WC3 heroes could become by the time they where lvl 10.

MarcoSnow06
MarcoSnow06

Having never heard of this game prior to reading this article, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the concepts introduced (or at least implemented in new and compelling ways). The plot, a by-the-numbers Alien vs, Alien vs. Aliens vs. Humans tale, also seems like an adequate backdrop for the game. That being said, I could help but notice two potential faults in this otherwise promising game: Why did Pteroglyph decide to include the Masari faction?. It almost seems as though the developers exhausted all of their good ideas creating the first two races and decided to cut corners by making a bizzare "anything goes" faction based on human historical/mythological iconography. Whether or not this oddball decision will reflect poorly on the final game remains to be seen. Another possibly game-killing decision by Pteroglyph lies in the dangerous proposition of cross-platform (meaning PC-360) online play. I'll cede the point that first person shooter controls on PC and consoles are on relatively equal footing in terms of precision and approachability for their respective input devices, mouse and controller, respectively. But the very idea of pitting console RTS players against veteran PC RTS players is madness. Even a console RTS player at the top of his/her game doesn't stand a chance against the wide range of control offered players of PC RTS'--keyboard shortcuts and more precise mouse control are decided advantages over the standard controller setup, allowing for more subtle, organized, unit movement, and strategy on a grand scale beyond your immediate core army. The console control set-up, while fully functional and inherently intuitive, does not lend itself half as well to the gameplay in question as its PC counterpart. Bottom line is: console vs. PC play could prove to be a disaster in this case. Regardless, this game will definitely be one to watch for among RTS fans (myself included).

LegionofClouds
LegionofClouds

cool lookin game the Massari are funny explaining random stuff lol but i hope it doesnt turn out too much like warcraft now tat dey have mentioned heroes i was hoping more for like a cnc zero hour feel I hope the ehroes turn out to be more towards the zero hour heroes type and not like a godly unit that can do like massive damage and rape a small army

Frags-o-Plenty
Frags-o-Plenty

I was originally going to buy this game for the Klepacki music... now it looks like I have a bunch of other good reasons, too.

Themaazandar
Themaazandar

For the moment the Masari seem all flash and no substance - I doubt their fitting into human mythology would be translated into gameplay mechanics by Petroglyph. So what are these guys REALLY all about? C'mon tell us and let us get as excited over it as we were with the Heirarchy and Novus.

finalfantasia
finalfantasia

The Masari concept has clearly been inspired from the races from the Stargate SG1 universe in regards to aliens races that inspired Human mythological and religious figures, namely the Gaold, Ori & Ancients

msudude211
msudude211

Those screenshots really caught my attention.

RTSFanatic
RTSFanatic

From reading all the E3 coverage it seems alot of the press guys really liked Universe at War. The fact that each faction is not a carbon copy of each other with new skins is the refreshing part for me.

jopickard
jopickard

Looks great, but I want to play the humans and wipe out all three alien races. I look forward to the PC version and wiping out all those X-Box pukes online!

Jim_Fing
Jim_Fing

A bunch of robots fighting man-eating aliens, with zombies sprinkled on top...whats there not to like!?!

BaldursGate18
BaldursGate18

Now I want to play It! Petroglyph may have a hit to rival starcraft!

zeus_gb
zeus_gb

It sounds that it's going to be a classic and I hope it is.

Raptor_4000
Raptor_4000

um...its patches for the novus.just to clean that up.

DouglasBuffone
DouglasBuffone

this team has a ton of experience, I am sure that the game is going to turn out great

KorJax
KorJax

Awsome, and being that this game is being made by most of the ORINGAL DEVELOPERS OF C&C, means that they have years of experience. And guys, check out http://www.frankklepacki.com , hes the guy who is doing the music for this game. Each faction has thier own music set. Hiarchy is more metal-rock based, while the Novus is more techno-industrial. BTW, hes the same guy who did the music for the oringal C&C games aswell. This game has classic written all over it. Supposed to be a "spirtual sucessor" to C&C.

BulletProof007
BulletProof007

How many RTS games does that make for the 360 ? I love these type of games so it makes me think of getting the 360.

jrwooton
jrwooton

Dudes...Got to have it...must kill...must destroy....lol...this looks like it's going to ROCK...bring it on!!!!!!

Grandhand
Grandhand

gamespot made alot of mistakes in their summaraies of each faction.

Pete5506
Pete5506

Not real big of rts but it should be good

jesus_knight
jesus_knight

me too, i am a big fan of rts i love starcraft

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

I can always use another RTS. I look forward to this one.