Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption Designer Diary #4 - Multiplayer Improvements

Lead designer Chris Rubyor returns to explain how the multiplayer system in this Star Wars expansion will let you battle in whole new ways.

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When Star Wars: Empire at War shipped earlier this year, it let you participate in intense land- and space-based battles in the popular Star Wars universe. The game gave you command of Star Destroyers, X-Wing fighter squadrons, AT-ATs, and more, as you fought it out on the ground and in orbit around famous Star Wars worlds such as Hoth and Endor. With the upcoming Forces of Corruption expansion, LucasArts and developer Petroglyph are looking to beef up the multiplayer combat. Not only is there a new faction to play with (the criminal Zann Consortium), there's also a slew of gameplay enhancements. For more, we have lead designer Chris Rubyor to fill us in. We won't have to wait long for the expansion, as Forces of Corruption is scheduled to ship in October.

It's the Rebel Alliance versus the Galactic Empire versus the Zann Consortium in Forces of Corruption's multiplayer.
It's the Rebel Alliance versus the Galactic Empire versus the Zann Consortium in Forces of Corruption's multiplayer.

What's New with Multiplayer

By Chris Rubyor
Lead Designer, Petroglyph Entertainment

As you may have read from previous diary entries, Forces of Corruption will give you plenty of new toys to play with, from stealth ships to radioactive-contamination abilities. But what's the fun of those if you can't play against other people? In multiplayer mode, we take Empire at War to the next level, giving players various new features and modes to experiment with against players around the world.

These new multiplayer features were designed to give players the ability to setup every possible scenario on every map, with any factions they desire, in any positions they want. Players can now truly test their skills with a faction by playing mirror matches, which allow them to battle it out against that same faction (for example, Empire versus Empire games). In addition, like any sporting event, players will be able to select their starting locations and will be able to swap spots for a rematch game. Say goodbye to "You won because you had the better side," and say hello to "PWNED!"

With all the new features in Forces of Corruption, we made sure that the maps were able to handle all those goodies! In addition to all the new maps in the game, such as Felucia and Mustafar, every original map from Empire at War has been rebalanced. New maps will add in more weather effects and unique challenges that will affect players' decisions on the battlefield. For instance, on Mustafar, units will have to avoid rivers of lava that will cause them damage while simultaneously controlling important choke points to protect their base. In total, players will battle again and again.

There are new maps to battle on, and existing maps have been rebalanced and enhanced.
There are new maps to battle on, and existing maps have been rebalanced and enhanced.

In each battle, we really wanted to tighten up the strategy from just maintaining control of the resource mines to controlling other elements that could sway the battle or have tactical benefits. Thus, maps have been introduced with the addition of secondary structures, placed at key strategic points, which could easily help or hurt players' strategies. For example, during space battles, new sensor pods can be captured that provide reconnaissance, allowing players to reveal the fog of war. Also, gravity-well stations around key mines help protect players' territories from enemy ships hyperspacing in to reinforce their fleet. On an even larger scale, there are Hutt space stations that not only serve as purchasing structures for the pirate faction, but also double as stations equipped with weapons and hard points. Space-station hard points will also be repairable when damaged, giving players the option of saving key hard points that are essential for defense.

In land tactical games, players will see the presence of new outpost pads, which will give players more options of which structures to build. For example, if a player wanted to build up his economy fast, he may want to build mines on the outpost pads. Initial structures will also start unbuilt, allowing players to develop their own build orders according to the types of armies they wish to command. These build orders will be crucial to the outcomes of the battles, because players will be forced to make decisions such as "Do I raid my opponent's economy early?" or "Should I tech up to get more powerful units?"

Outside of custom games, we have also added new options for players to get involved with the online community. Clan ladders have been added to allow players to compete with their friends or other players looking for some epic-scale battles. Also, integrated clan matching has been added to help clans challenge their rivals on the new clan ladders. Clans can do this by flagging their games from the host menu as official clan games, in which the results are then recorded on the clan ladders.

Thankfully, if you fail, Lord Vader won't wring your neck.
Thankfully, if you fail, Lord Vader won't wring your neck.

In quick match, players are now given much more control over their strategy with the ability to select which faction they'd like to enter the battle with, allowing them to plan out their strategy before ever entering the game. Last, but definitely not least, is the new replay function for Forces of Corruption. In response to popular demand, this has been added to encourage dialogue and feedback on multiplayer games. Players are now able to review games and pinpoint what decisions lead to their defeat or victory. We hope the community will enjoy sharing these replays with each other to further increase the competition and fun involved with online multiplayer games.

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