Microsoft Shows its Allegiance

Microsoft takes us for a ride on its upcoming multiplayer-only space simulation.


Microsoft recently showed us its upcoming, multiplayer-only space simulation, Allegiance. Originally designed as a persistent-world simulation, Allegiance has been scaled back, but it should still deliver a multiplayer experience unlike any previous space simulation.

In development for over two years, Allegiance combines the fast action of games like Wing Commander and action-oriented strategy similar to that found in Battlezone. Games can be played with any combination of up to 32 simultaneous players over a LAN and the Internet. There are various game modes such as pure deathmatch, cooperative play, capture the flag, and more. When you jump into a game, you can choose to play as one of three sides, each with a slightly different technology tree and focus. One side has great stealth capabilities, while another has increased economic abilities.

The games can also take place in arenas of varying sizes. Each game is composed of multiple sectors, which you can jump back and forth between using jump gates. Each team member in a game can pilot a variety of ships, from scouts to fighters to heavy bombers. You will only start the game with a choice between a scout or a fighter, but as you collect resources from asteroids in each sector, you will be able to buy ship designs from your side's tech tree. All team members can contribute to the tech tree, and all team members can fly around, scouting, fighting, and building new bases. However, Allegiance is designed so that one member of the team is designated leader and makes the strategic decisions for the team. The way the game is designed, you can't win unless you have focused leadership.

The team leader can reside in the base and can view the sectors from a third-person 3D map, where he can assign miners to harvest asteroids and issue orders to the rest of the team. Everyone has access to the map, but really only the leader will be using it because while he coordinates the actions of the human players and AI drones and miners, the rest of the team will be in their ships scouting and fighting. Team members can always swap between roles, and very large games might even require multiple leaders who control different sectors.

As games are not persistent, you win when you conquer all sectors or meet the specific victory conditions of the game you choose. When playing over the Microsoft Gaming Zone, though, your scores, stats, and ranks will be tracked on the Zone. In addition, playing over the Zone and buying a special membership in the Zone for Allegiance lets you play in games that can support up to 200 players.

Since the game is specifically a massively multiplayer space simulation, it will support several chat options, including a substantial menu of canned speeches and orders and an easy two-click method to communicate with individual team mates.

Allegiance looks very promising, and it has the graphics qualities and options that are standard in top-tier space simulations. Look for an in-depth preview in the coming weeks.

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