World in Conflict Updated Multiplayer Hands-On

Sierra and Massive's World War III game will offer multiplayer that blends real-time strategy and action with heavy doses of teamwork.

by

Since the Cold War ended peacefully between the West and the Soviet Union, the epic conflict that both sides braced for never took place. However, armchair historians and fans of military games will be able to participate in a fictional World War III when the real-time strategy game World in Conflict arrives. We've been playing around with the beta-test version of the game, and World in Conflict has matured quite a bit since we played the very early work-in-progress version earlier this year.

World in Conflict is about World War III in the late 1980s as the Soviet Union and the West come to blows. This results in a Soviet invasion of the West Coast of the US, which is where the game is set. While the single-player campaign is played from the American perspective, you can play in multiplayer as the Soviet Union or NATO on European and Russian battlefields. Or you can play as the US or the USSR on American battlefields. However, instead of being a one-on-one style of multiplayer game, World in Conflict is about teams battling teams on huge battlefields. We've previously noted that World in Conflict's multiplayer feels a bit like a real-time strategy version of the popular Battlefield action games, and this impression remains very much intact.

There goes the neighborhood.

The multiplayer gameplay is fun because you don't micromanage dozens upon dozens of units across the battlefield as you would in a standard real-time strategy game. Instead, you have a very specific role to play and only a handful of units to worry about, so this is very much a game about teamwork. For example, we suspect that newcomers will love the support (artillery) class because it's easy to pick up and fun to play. Whereas armor, infantry, and air can get chewed up quickly on the front lines, the artillery class can sit back in relative safety, pounding any point within its range. If you select a few of the heavy artillery pieces, you can rain death down at incredible distances. Because World in Conflict has built-in voice-chat support, you can hear your teammates making many artillery requests, so there's no shortage of targets. Artillery is so dangerous that it becomes imperative to take enemy artillery out. This can be done by sending in a scout helicopter to locate enemy artillery so you can call in an air strike or have your artillery take it out or by having ground units roam around the enemy's rear hunting for targets.

When you join a multiplayer game (there's no waiting in a lobby; if there's a slot open on a server, you'll directly enter a game midmission), you select which role you want to play on the battlefield. There's infantry, which lets you request and control infantry squads, antitank squads, or snipers. Infantry don't seem very sturdy on a battlefield full of tanks or nuclear missiles, but if you barricade them in buildings and forests, they become difficult to root out. Armor consists primarily of tanks and armored personnel carriers. As you can guess, they're powerful, but they're vulnerable to helicopters and infantry in tight quarters. Helicopters range from transports and scout helicopters to gunships. They can chew up armor, but they're very fragile to infantry armed with antiaircraft missiles and antiaircraft weapons. Then there's support, which consists primarily of artillery and antiaircraft platforms. These are powerful in their own right, but tanks, helicopters, and infantry can easily destroy them. As you can see, there's a rock-paper-scissors relationship because every combat arm has its distinct strengths and weaknesses.

Infantry are dangerous if stationed in towns and forests.

Thankfully, the interface has been overhauled to make the game a lot more accessible. Before, it helped if you knew the difference between an M60 and an M1 to figure out what to requisition, but now there are simply three classes of units: light, medium, and heavy. For instance, light tanks are the cheapest but also the weakest; however, the advantage is that you can requisition a lot of them. Medium tanks are more powerful, but they're also pricier, so you get them in smaller numbers. Finally, heavy tanks are the monsters of the battlefield, but they're so expensive that can only have two or three of them at any one time. It's a logical system, and it eliminates the need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of 1980s military equipment to understand the game. This system also helps balance the game. Sure, there's a temptation to load up on the heaviest of units, but those are so expensive that you only get a handful of them. The best teams that we saw playing the beta had a mix of light, medium, and heavy units. For instance, a light scout helicopter is perfect for locating enemy positions, while a bunch of medium artillery can provide fire support much more rapidly than slower, heavier units. This sort of illustrates the conundrum that strategists faced in the Cold War. The Soviet Union had the bigger military, but the West had the more advanced military. So is quantity a quality? Or does quality offset quantity? The game is so well balanced that it really seems to depend on the tactics and coordination that your team exhibits.

The objectives in missions depend on the game mode, but generally, it's not enough to simply kill the enemy. After all, both sides can reinforce constantly. If your units are destroyed, their requisition points trickle back to your reinforcement pool, so you can simply order up new units. These units are then delivered seconds later from a huge, lumbering transport swooping low over the battlefield. Much of the time, the goal is to seize objectives on the map. If your team can seize and hold all of the objectives, the enemy is in deep trouble. But the great thing about this system is that each match remains fluid and exciting from start to finish. Players are constantly bringing in fresh units, trying new tactics, and fighting until the timer runs out on the mission.

Another cool aspect of World in Conflict is tactical aid. The more effective you are at killing the enemy, the more tactical aid points you accrue. You can use these points to requisition off-map support, such as artillery bombardments, air strikes from fighter bombers, air sweeps from air superiority fighters, and, yes, tactical nuclear missile strikes. A tactical aid can turn the tide of battle. Does the enemy have a swarm of attack helicopters chewing up your tanks? Then send in fighters to sweep them from the skies. Have you located a cluster of enemy artillery that's out of range of your own artillery? Send in fighter bombers to take them out. One of the neat things is that if your team is in trouble, you can send your tactical aid points to a teammate. So if your team desperately needs to call in a nuke, you can pool your points together to buy it.

It's raining high explosives.

Visually, the game remains impressive, and we were only running the DirectX 9 version of the game. World in Conflict will support DirectX 10 out of the box, so it should look even prettier if you have the hardware. Still, it's hard not to be amazed by the incredible amount of detail packed on the screen. You can watch the countryside being blown apart by nuclear explosions, artillery bombardments, air strikes, and more, and the level of destruction is immense. For example, nukes leave giant craters in the ground, artillery can explode buildings that infantry hide in, and entire forests can be leveled by fire.

World in Conflict doesn't play like a standard real-time strategy game, and it feels like a refreshing change of pace for the genre. There's such an emphasis on teamwork and tactics that its rewarding when you work together to defeat the enemy, but it's still fun if your team is being manhandled on the battlefield. It's also certainly a game to keep an eye on if you like military-themed games or intense multiplayer action. World in Conflict ships this fall.

Discussion

127 comments
Kubilius
Kubilius

Well, i'm on this game demo servers for a week non-stop now, super involving game and it actually has some FPS ellements, though it's a strategy game. It very much reminds me of the old QUAKE and QUAKE 2 games, where you have to RUN FOR THE FLAG! In general - graphics are awesome, tactics and teamplay are extremely important, lot's of ways how to win (or loose), though beta demo has only 2 maps, it doesn't get boring after a couple of hours. Definately a game for purchase when it's released. DEFINATELY! :)

Killer_priest03
Killer_priest03

The nuke is probably a tactical one as to contain the area of affect of the blast. And really, if you dropped a nuke both sides would lose on a map, it'd be overpowered and stupid

DeathsAngel666
DeathsAngel666

It's pretty sad we can't play from the soviet part!

dartheggs973
dartheggs973

there is a person down there who said that this game was a fps, come on how smart do you have to be to realize its a rts, RTS, not fps, it does not even look like a fps, my gosh.

Psiphor
Psiphor

Since when do Nuke's have no shockwave?... Sure this games gives us a nice crater and smoke etc, but a nuke would surely level all the trees and buildings in the area as the shockwave eminates out at blistering speed from the point of impact... Haven't the developers seen Terminator 2 or any real nuke footage or what?!

gate131966
gate131966

i can say that maybe is one of the best fps game

brokengammer
brokengammer

its the only game that i want to play more than halo 3 and call of duty 4 =)

Korich34
Korich34

I paly at this game now! BEST GAME!!!!!!!!! work in Windows XP x64 and Windows Vista x64, thanks!!!!!

chico129
chico129

The BETA is out? Man I gotta start paying more attention! I got into the ALPHA test, amazing stuff!

Darth_123
Darth_123

I played Ground Control and Ground Control 2 and I enjoyed both of them. I played the closed beta (and now I'm entering the new beta) and I can say that Massive has really done an excellent job with this game. I had a lot fun playing the closed beta. The graphics were intense and were not badly optimized, the game was fast paced and the explosions were fantastic. The system of picking a role was well thought out and every role had a counter that could be exploited depending on how much tactical aid and reinforcements you had. I hope that everyone interested in World in Conflict enjoys it. I did.

106473
106473

I'm downloading the Beta as I write this, I'm one of the lucky ones to get it early.

rosscero
rosscero

well...nice ^^ =D I like RTS games, this one looks cool

1stRifle
1stRifle

sounds cool :) I'm a WIC future gamer 8)

AlexiusCommenus
AlexiusCommenus

The game looks intense. However, it appears that the exposions might be too big? The screenies protray them as frequent, but they are so big. It looks like you could easily wipe out the enemy. That's my only complaint.

Sean23
Sean23

Stop saying this game isjust like COD, thats offensive..if you like fast non realistic RTS with very pretty graphics and poor multiplayer..then sure its good. Single player could be very good though.

PMThor
PMThor

It's like reading what I wrote in ahem, another forum about this game.... Support is the noob answer. Just wait and see though...the game will level it out...

jorgepimp321
jorgepimp321

say if I download the new drive of direct x9c, will that replace my directx 10 on my windows vista?

fishheads111
fishheads111

Buying new parts...well, more like a new computer for this one and crisis:P

unitedslayr
unitedslayr

THIS IS GOING TO AWESOME!!!!!!! I the nukes.....

Jerian
Jerian

I liked Ground Control and loved the engine so this is a no-brainer for me.

x-15f
x-15f

incredible! but i need to upgrade my CPU and my RAM

wis3boi
wis3boi

i wish my PC hadn't broken down during the beta, but I'm pre-ordering so I can try the next one. Looks like the best RTS ever made. I hope there are various gameplay options, like extra unit points or which class the AI plays as.

Rigges
Rigges

closed beta rocked, really looking forward to the official release...

mattacks
mattacks

omg so many good games coming. sc2! this! a new cod. i needa upgrade my computer!

BWC-Repuls
BWC-Repuls

Fantastic game, the MP battles are really intense!

Paulo1
Paulo1

small scale company of heroes esque game sweet

ThePlunger369
ThePlunger369

I read in an interview that the designers follow some of the storyline out of Red Dawn.

echoside
echoside

The plot kinda soungs like Red Dawn to me :|

Nayab
Nayab

There is so much stuff to be said about this game, that this one page article does not justify it. It is incredible! If you like to Solo and not share points with other players, then this game is not for you.

sancezz
sancezz

Now if only I had a better graphics card than this X1300... XD. This game does look really interesting, I'm glad somebody's trying to do something different with the RTS genre!

leafbot
leafbot

I loved the closed beta. Thanks for making such a nice game!!! See you in the battlefield again this Open Beta!

DeltaTeam
DeltaTeam

oh man i can not wait for this game. its about time RTS gets a face lift. temwork is what makes a military and its nice to seee a game utilize that. Also what an awsome time concept to use, the cold war. such a good idea.

Hiroytuza
Hiroytuza

the Closed Beta was completely madness! cant wait for the full release

pugkiller
pugkiller

I cant wait. The recent glut of grat computer games is REALLY making me glad I just got a new one, Its like the gaming god are rewarding me :3

kaziechameleon
kaziechameleon

sweat want this game so bad, another great reason to own a pc.

markjet23
markjet23

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

Lucas_371
Lucas_371

Looks Like a great game to me, hope it's good.

Grodus5
Grodus5

Sounds fun, hope they pull of the controls on the 360 as good as Command and Conquer did, if so I'll probably pick up this game.

Edot0
Edot0

I likeing this game more and more. Hope its good for the 360 too.

DarkRecruit
DarkRecruit

this is much better then CoH and supcom, can't believe a RTS can be this fun.

homiebo
homiebo

This game is proprobalbly a 9 or above in gamespot range, or thats how iam going to rate it.

picatoste
picatoste

Beta was already excellent. You dont need a supercomputer to play it is very vell optimized.

markkilness
markkilness

I was in the beta as well, an awesome game. its a game worth getting. The graphics were amazing, adiuo impressive, and over all preformance was great.

Cobra5
Cobra5

I was in the Beta, excellent game, and it is a nice change of pace for the genre. I'm hardly bored of the tried-and-true "resources-base-battle" formula, so long as its done right, but this game really showed me there are serious alternatives to that.