Universe at War: Earth Assault will be a real-time strategy game for the PC and the Xbox 360 that brings three totally different alien races--the Hierarchy, the Masari, and the Novus--to the planet Earth and sets them at war with each other. The game is being developed by Las Vegas studio Petroglyph, which is the creator of last year's hit strategy game Star Wars: Empire At War. It's also home to many of the creative talents that created the original Command & Conquer games, which helped put real-time strategy on the map to begin with. The game is scheduled for release on the PC later this year, and on the Xbox 360 early next year.
The mighty Hierarchy is an alien race built around the "walker." This enormous, earth-shaking ground unit is outfitted with "hard points"--various upgrade slots that can be filled with such weapons as the lightning-firing arc turret, which is exceptionally useful against airborne enemies. The faction has different variants of the walker, including a "habitat walker" that can actually build infantry units and then instantly "beam" them into play, starting with Hierarchy grunts, and later bringing in stronger "lost ones" and brutes into the fray. Habitat walkers may build up to three infantry units at a time, and can queue up five batches of three units, so you can expect to see these mighty mechanical beasts spitting out swarms of infantry in an actual game.
The Hierarchy's strategy is rounded out with the help of ground units such as the brutes, which can not only charge headlong at their enemies, but can also leap down onto their foes to deal damage within an area of effect. However, brutes can be accessed only after researching and upgrading a specific technology for your walker. In addition, certain Hierarchy units, such as lost ones infantry units as well as certain structures and vehicles, can actually acquire a "phasing" ability, which makes them partially invisible and immune to damage (though they themselves can't attack while phased).
The Masari race doesn't possess humongous walking tanks; instead, it consists of fewer and more powerful units, as well as exceptionally powerful "hero" units (all three factions will be able to recruit heroes). The faction is arguably the most intuitive to pick up because it uses a good mix of ground, air, and vehicle units in battle. It also has the most economically efficient armies--but it has to, given that the Masari can gather resources only by building batteries that charge slowly over time. However, the faction can manipulate the energy it uses into "dark" and "light" variants, which change the way its units and buildings work.
Among other abilities, Masari players can unleash the awesome power of their hero units. One example is the Lord Charos character's "dark vortex" power, which flings enemy units into the air and hurls them to the ground. Other examples include the powers of the hero Zessus to either create damaging explosions that flatten enemy units, or to teleport friendly or hostile units and weapons--such as the Novus' black-hole bomb, which can be teleported and redeployed near an enemy base. Other notable powers include the Masari inquisitor heavy infantry unit's ability to fly when toggled to "light" mode, though the unit once again becomes a powerful ground aggressor when switched to "dark" mode.
The Novus faction is a race of cybernetic creatures that uses fast movement through its electronic "network" to defeat its enemies through hit-and-run tactics. By building the faction's energy "network," which is a series of glowing lines spread across various nodes, Novus players can instantly transport their armies by having them hop right into a node, after which they hop out of a different node moments later.
While the Novus forces seem to possess the most mobility, they also have powerful swarming abilities thanks to the faction's most basic infantry unit, the ohm robot. This unit can attack air and ground units, and it makes for great frontline cannon fodder. It can also use a special "swarm" ability to leap onto an enemy unit (or the hardpoint of a Hierarchy walker), and then detonate itself. This destroys the unit and causes the Novus player to loose troops, but when enough ohm robots swarm and eventually blow up a large enemy, the cost can be worth it.