Set in the years just before the original Quake II, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is a prequel of sorts, set in the days of the Strogg invasion of Earth. Regardless of your familiarity with Quake lore, however, this online multiplayer game looks like a heck of a lot of fun, thanks to a developer focus that is a bit more ambitious than your simple deathmatch or capture-the-flag games. During a recent pre-E3 press event, Activision showed off the latest version of the game and gave us a brief tour of how its multiplayer philosophy is coming to life.
The focus in Quake Wars is first and foremost team-centric combat, and you'll be able to play either as members of the Global Defense Force or the invading Strogg; as a result, in order to find success in the game, players will need to understand not only their own role in the team, but exactly what needs to be accomplished as the face of the battle changes throughout the match. The balance of power can shift quickly in a match, as a team takes checkpoints or completes missions only to leave itself vulnerable to a counterattack. As a result, the designer behind Quake Wars wanted to create a team-based mission system that was flexible enough to suit the fluid nature of any battle situation, but easy enough for even new players to understand.
Of course, coordinating attack and defensive maneuvers in other multiplayer games via voice chat can be frustrating and confusing, as players talk over one another or misunderstand commands. The solution in Quake Wars is a context-sensitive radial menu, which pops up with the click of a button. Depending on what you are looking at, the menu system will provide you with options that are devoted to that object. For instance, if you're facing a broken-down transport, you can bring up a menu and call for a teammate to come in and repair it. Bring up the menu while pointed at fallen allies and you'll see options to call in a medic to revive them.
In battle, missions can be generated in three different ways--pre-scripted events built into the missions themselves, automatically generated missions that reflect your changing objectives, and objectives that are set by your teammates (such as repairing vehicles or reviving fallen comrades). Completing missions will also be relatively easy. In one mission shown off during the demo, a GDF covert ops disguised as a Strogg soldier (more on how he did that in a bit) was tasked with the mission of blowing up a shield generator inside a Strogg encampment at the base of a wooded valley. Once the disguised operative was inside the enemy walls, he simply sneaked up to the generator, pressed the "use" key (which caused him to shed his disguise), and, after a few tense seconds of waiting, destroyed his target. As you can see, thanks to Quake Wars' intuitive interface and simple controls, you'll know not only what you need to do, but how to go about doing it.
Both the GDF and Strogg will have their own strengths and weaknesses--the general difference is that the GDF will use more conventional weaponry, while the Strogg will have more alien tech on their side. Both factions will have five character classes to choose from, including infiltrators, medics, and engineers. The engineer, in particular, seems like one of the most fun classes in the game, as they're responsible for some of the biggest toys. Should your team grab a crucial choke point on the map, for example, you can call in for some antiaircraft turrets to defend your position against bombing runs by enemy aircraft, or for artillery units to take out enemy targets from a long distance away. Of course, for every weapon in the game, there's an effective counter or defensive technology--the aforementioned defensive shield is a Strogg specialty. That attack/counterattack philosophy continues with the ability of the aforementioned covert ops' unit to take on the disguise of enemy soldiers, in order to infiltrate the base and either blow up an enemy objective or deploy a spy camera on the premises, which could potentially open up a whole new set of enemy intel, and new team missions to boot.
Though the game's producers spent the most time in the wooded level during the demo, we know that the developer is looking to make sure each of the game's 12 maps has its own look and feel. The levels will take place in territories across the planet, showing off the different battles that take place during the Strogg invasion, including North America, the Arctic, Africa, Europe, and the Pacific region. One of the other missions we saw was set in a series of GDF-controlled biodomes located among Norwegian fjords. The GDF have managed to de-engineer some "Stroggification" technology, and will need to protect the area from a Strogg invasion. As a Strogg attacker, you'll be fighting both outside and inside the expansive biodomes.
With the game just about a month away from store shelves, we look forward to seeing more of what Activision and Splash Damage have in store for us with the game at E3. Stay tuned for more on the game, including a full review, in the coming weeks.