Universe at War: Earth Assault Designer Diary #2 - Overview

Creative director Adam Isgreen discusses the new types of single-player and multiplayer game modes developed for this sci-fi real-time strategy game.

Sci-fi invasion stories tend to have a similar theme to them: Technologically advanced aliens arrive to wage war on Earth, only to be defeated by the plucky and resourceful human defenders. However, in Universe at War: Earth Assault, three technologically advanced alien races arrive on Earth, and humanity is pretty much going to be out of luck in the face of those odds. Universe at War is the second game from Petroglyph, the Las Vegas development studio founded by veterans of the team that created the landmark real-time strategy game Command & Conquer. Like Petroglyph's last game, Star Wars: Empire at War, Universe at War will feature a real-time strategic layer, where you can make global decisions, as well as a real-time battle system that lets you take command of armies and bases in the field. To introduce us to an overview of the different ways to play the game, in both single-player and multiplayer, we have the game's creative director. Universe at War ships later this year.

Two alien factions, the Novus and the Hierarchy, battle in the shadows of Egypt's great pyramids.

Earth in a Nutshell

By Adam Isgreen
Creative Director, Petroglyph

Universe at War: Earth Assault is a real-time tactical and strategy game set on near-future Earth in the year 2012. Players take control of three very different factions and battle for control of Earth and the fate of humanity. In this designer diary, we'll be giving you an overview of the game, with information on our strategic and tactical modes, and some info on the online and offline game modes that you can expect to see in the finished product later this year.

Universe at War is divided into a tactical combat ground layer and a strategic global layer, each with its own unique gameplay considerations. From the global layer, you can view the entire planet, build territorial command centers, upgrade them with a number of technologies, launch devastating megaweapons, spy on opponents, and engage in offense, infiltration, and defense by utilizing your heroes and their persistent unit strike forces. Each of a faction's three heroes has their own abilities and powers in the strategic layer, and learning how to leverage their unique abilities is critical to your success. Of course, all this is happening in real time, so you have to constantly worry about what the enemy is doing as well!

When you get into a tactical battle in solo or multiplayer games, you're playing a full-blown real-time strategy game, complete with each faction's unique take on base building, resource collecting, scouting, combat, tactical dynamics, and research vectors. Research is really key to Universe at War, for depending on how you direct your research along each of a faction's three unique vectors, even the same faction facing itself in a mirror match can play very differently. Through the course of a normal solo or multiplayer game, you won't be able to get every single tech, either, so you're going to have to choose carefully and fully leverage the abilities and powers that you have unlocked in order to be successful.

Universe at War can be played in a number of different ways. Since we know that not everyone likes to play at the same speed, with the same game types, and under the same rule sets, we've provided a number of play options to suit all types of players in both online and offline modes.

When not playing online, the biggest part of the game is the story campaign, a linear experience that takes you from one end of the planet to the other over the course of 22 to 25 custom missions, depending on player choice. Through it, you'll get to play as the beaten-on human military forces, the Hierarchy, Novus, and our third playable faction, which has yet to be revealed. The finale cumulates in a final battle in which several races' futures hang in the balance, and not everyone will be back to fight another day. There's a lot of character drama in the story game, and although all these factions may be aliens, they have some very humanlike faults and failings, making their downfall or redemption that much more satisfying.

If you're looking for a more open-ended experience when you're offline, we also have conquest mode, where the path to victory is up to you. We present you with multiple open-ended scenarios (for example, conquer all of South America in 10 days) with a host of customization options (true hero death, tech limits, artificial intelligence opponent behavior, overall difficulty, and so on), and from there it's up to you to choose a faction and leverage both strategic and tactical modes to best effect in order to beat the scenarios set before you.

Of course, we also have a skirmish mode where you can play any map versus a number of CPU opponents in any configuration you wish in order to familiarize yourself with the factions, the territory maps, and each one's unique play-styles. Sometimes it's just fun to lay the smack down on the artificial intelligence or try out some new tactics and research choices that you don't want to risk using when playing in a more important situation, like during a critical ranked game!

They come in peace. Actually, not really.

When it comes to online modes, you can play classic multiplayer in either free-for-all or team modes with or without AI players, as well as utilize some of the specific new rule sets we're including, like DEFCON. In this game type, an ever-visible DEFCON stage indicator looms onscreen, just like in the classic movie WarGames. As the DEFCON level moves down every few minutes, every faction is advanced in tech along all research vectors automatically, raising the stakes dramatically as the minutes tick by. Do you time an attack to coincide perfectly with a tech increase or hit your opponents quickly before they get a tech that you really don't want them to have? Speed and tournament players will have a great time with this rule set, as your average game time is around 10 to 15 minutes before superweapons are on line and someone has been annihilated.

For those that want to take things at a less hectic pace, Universe at War has a conquer-the-world multiplayer mode, where you attempt to conquer the entire globe, one territory at a time. Win a multiplayer victory in a territory, and you hold it on the globe. Lose, and your opponent will take it from you, and you'll have to get it back. As you conquer more and more of the globe, the stakes increase for what you could lose, as does the difficulty of the opponents you'll face in matching. If you manage to conquer the globe, you can try to hold it as long as possible or move onto another globe and try to keep other players from completing their conquests. Players can play for 15 minutes or hours at a time as they try to increase their ranking and hold more territories without falling to an enemy. The pace is up to you, since your world won't get conquered if you're not participating in combat on it.

There's a lot more to talk about in every regard, but we hope this diary entry has given you an overall idea of what to expect when the game hits shelves at the end of this year. Come back each month as we reveal even more secrets about Universe at War: Earth Assault.

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Discussion

41 comments
1wombat1
1wombat1

This is one fine game i bought if for £2.47 wow but i would have paid £40 for it is one of the best games in this catergory of gaming for a long long time i just hope there will be another follow on from this (which is live anabled for achievements. Thanks for this outstanding game its nice to see these games back agin.

GigaKaiser
GigaKaiser

"LOL this is pretty much a complete ripp off of war of the worlds" Perhaps the same could be said of anything that features aliens invading earth, right?

LegionofClouds
LegionofClouds

Quiet MilkyJoe This is a damn hot lookin game And if i rmeember correctly War of the Worlds didnt have the humans raped by three different aliens at the same time

MilkyJoe1
MilkyJoe1

LOL this is pretty much a complete ripp off of war of the worlds

Themaazandar
Themaazandar

This looks interesting. Wonder what the third race will be. I just hope that by strategic layer they mean something other than Total War's description

it009x9281
it009x9281

Im hopful this will be change from tank vs tank,man vs man etc......

darren05r
darren05r

loved empire at war, expecting good things with this game.

LegionofClouds
LegionofClouds

Alright pple the graphics look weird because they were nice enough to tell you about the game now They arnt DONE YET Now unless you can make a better game with better graphics in the same time they did then please be quiet and flame about the graphics somewhere else Anyways i have hopes for this game The Novus look cool

komet999
komet999

Looking forward to this game

Sephiroth445
Sephiroth445

I would agree with Alphus, definately has my attention, though sometimes games with a large scope tend to go awry and not live up to their preview indications

ajcosford
ajcosford

theres not much i can say but ' war of the worlds ' take off i think ! but has an alright look to it just have to wait wont we

Alphus
Alphus

I dunno... half of the models look half finished, but thats prolly cause its half-finished xD the end result should be something worth playing, its got my attention at least

lalapin
lalapin

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Maximiliator
Maximiliator

... lame... just another newer version of supreme commander. If they do not bring smth. really new, smth. which was NOT in all games before, too, you have no chance of getting me to buy this game !!! -.- *not impressed* Max

Kubilius
Kubilius

Hmm...is it just me or everyone else is getting more and more disappointed with news from this game developers camp? Graphics looks really ...weird...? I mean it's low detail, low depth, sharp graphics or is it my new monitor doing tricks with photos:/

yian
yian

The crab-shell alien race looks very interesting, but the robotech feels very unpolished and out of place.

RTSFanatic
RTSFanatic

This RTS sounds great. I'm really diggin the fact walkers can actually crush other units. I also like the diversity that I'm reading about in the factions. Why doesn't GameSpot have more to read about this game? Dev diaries are nice, but where is the story synopsis, detailed unit info ? We NEED more info GameSpot. =)

42316
42316

I can't for this game to come out......to many strategy games have been bound to the red, blue and green faction....maybe this will absolutely blow the doors open to some even wilder thinking...(and there will be more the 1 game in this series)

finalfantasia
finalfantasia

I still think sc2 will **** all over this game! Though I think this game will still do reasonably well especially b4 sc2 is released in 08. But once sc2 comes out, even tho this game should be a reasonable success, expect most RTS gamers to be playing sc2, when that is released

Glordit
Glordit

will have to see about this one :)

Sorapak
Sorapak

"Universe at War: Earth Assault is a real-time tactical and strategy game set on near-future Earth in the year 2012" lol,the Mayan calendar says the world will end in 2012. Think they "borrowed" that from there? :P

mareaper
mareaper

So far I like the sound of this game. I hope it lives up to its potential.

mantrhax
mantrhax

Looks cool, but the gamestory is too old.....

Lycen
Lycen

Through it, you'll get to play as the beaten-on human military forces Yup cant play humans clear as a day... Sounds great will give it a try when it comes out.

snipercomplete
snipercomplete

wait, im gathering we cant be humans, and, hencefort, it wont be as fun, because i would enjoy being humans, it would be like the IG from dawn of war, nobody likes them because they cant play as them, then, when i play as them they think "instawin" only to be crushed under my imperial boots, and treads.

Eagle5648
Eagle5648

I think this is going to be a great game and i'm going to buy it.

stefip
stefip

This game seems very interesting, not only in terms of gameplay, but in story as well. No more humans kick ass of billion times more advanced civilization then we are. My only concern that the battles will be atmospheric just like space battles in EaW, because ground battles were kinda boring there...

thestrateger
thestrateger

it's looks cool, but it's not an awesome game, it's just a normal game, but it little bit good :)

lalapin
lalapin

cool , this is must buy.

Lonelynight
Lonelynight

Looks cool, might get it if I have the time.

owman
owman

It's ugly - imho

GHEmpire
GHEmpire

hmm would like to try this i wonder if its going to be like Sins of a Solar Empire

grayf0x0
grayf0x0

this game is going to be sweet gots everything and more can't wait to see much... c'mon people open your eyes theres more good to this then any sequel we've seen!

Daniel8888
Daniel8888

If they do things really right on this game, it will overrun Starcraft II. Just with these little glimpse it loks like a lot better than SC. we can be on the beginning of a new RTS era. PS: You guys should see the news about the empire earth III. They are going in a very similar path of this one.

cichy69
cichy69

i like conquer the globe thing on multi... sounds like fun

malikmmm
malikmmm

:shock: only 1 comment ? i think people dont like this game...

chppxbx
chppxbx

this game could be really good