Supreme Ruler: Cold War Preview

North Korea takes a poorly planned stab at global domination during our hands-off demo of Supreme Ruler: Cold War.

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The Cold War was a time of extreme tension between the planet's two largest superpowers. Despite the fact that the United States and the USSR never came to blows directly, the end of the world was truly just a phone call away. Could you have handled it better? That's what developer BattleGoat Studios wants to know in its latest entry in the Supreme Ruler series, Supreme Ruler: Cold War. We got to see a hands-off demonstration of what it's like battling for the hearts and minds of the people at this year's GDC.

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Unlike the previous entries in this real-time strategy series, Cold War isn't set in the not-too-distant future. It takes place in the past, specifically during the turbulent years of the mid-20th century. BattleGoat Studios credits the community's desire for a historic setting as one of the main reasons for this change. And because the series has such a heavy focus on diplomacy, espionage, and political intrigue, the Cold War was a natural choice.

The game itself is divided into three primary game modes: Campaign, Sandbox, and Scenario. In the Campaign mode, you take control of either the United States or the USSR circa 1949 and battle it out for the fate of the world. Sandbox mode lets you take command of any country during that same time period and rule as you see fit. Finally, Scenario mode lets you tackle other major historical events of that age for a more focused (and shorter) gameplay experience than in Campaign.

Unfortunately, Supreme Ruler: Cold War is not a game that can be summed up in a 15-minute demonstration. Just like a great game of Civilization, stratification comes from seeing the hours, or even days, of careful decision making and planning finally come to fruition. Nevertheless, our pilot loaded up the start of the Korean War scenario and we took in as much as we could. Our side was North Korea, and we were making a hard push into the territory of our southern neighbor.

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Historically, this conflict did not end well for the North Koreans. And during this session, history was about the repeat itself. We started out strong and captured a lot of territory as our convoy of war machines tore through the continent. However, our side got a little too greedy and overextended itself beyond its supply lines. To make things worse, the Americans showed up to put an end to our warmongering shenanigans. Quickly and efficiently, those capitalist pigs encircled our troops; thus preventing us from retreating back into supply-filled friendly territory. In one fell swoop, we had successfully ended North Korea's military ambitions and left our homeland wide open for invasion.

As the United States mopped up the rest of the North Korean forces, we zoomed out to get a look at the world at large. At any point, you can pull the camera back to see the entirety of the earth and where the political allegiances of different countries lie. All of these countries are in play regardless of which mode or country you're controlling. The Cold War conflict is always there and will play itself out whether you take an active role in it or not.

Commanding a global superpower that spans the entire planet can be a lot to manage. Thankfully, the game will let you scale its complexity by delegating away different tasks to your advisers. If you're a more military-minded player who doesn't like to get bogged down in research or production, then you can hand off those areas to your fellow comrades and focus on the fight. And should you find yourself engaged in global warfare, you can even delegate away entire theaters of war.

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Of course, bringing about the end of the world is always more fun with friends. The game supports up to 16 players in multiplayer, but if you have that many combatants in the game, it can start to last months instead of hours. One thing BattleGoat Studios likes to do to keep things brief is divide up Africa to see who can establish complete control over the continent the fastest. Whatever your calling may be, you can find Supreme Ruler: Cold War on the PC this summer.

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