We Just Played End of Nations (in Multiplayer)
We get back into the commander's seat for a competitive multiplayer match in this massively multiplayer real-time strategy game.
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We've previously covered End of Nations' player-versus-environment content--namely, how you can create a commander character with an army of tanks or other land vehicles and take them into various battlefields across the globe to fight computer-controlled enemies. However, the game will also offer competitive team-based multiplayer as part of a larger "metagame" where two different factions of players will fight for control of the entire globe, sector by sector.
While the game's development is still very much a work in progress, and not all facets of the game have been publicly discussed, Trion Worlds has revealed that the metagame is intended to be a continuous cycle where one of the two competing player factions will eventually seize enough territory to claim victory, though this process could take a matter of a few months. Each sector will have its own unique map tied to the location (so a map in South Africa will have a desert climate with a specific, fixed layout, while a map in Russia will have a winter climate with its own, fixed layout).
Over time, players will likely familiarize themselves with the layout of each sector and formulate specific strategies for taking that one map, and as it turns out, different-sized versions of maps are being added to the game to scale to differing numbers of players, so you're not likely to run into scaling problems of having only four players to play on a huge map or having 10 players cram themselves into a dueling space. In any case, successfully capturing and holding a territory means various strengthening bonuses (or "buffs," in online game terms) for the leading faction, though the studio suggests that the losing side will also have access to some kind of compensating factors so that being on the losing side won't be a total drag. And once one side does claim victory, the world map will reset so that the war can begin anew.
End of Nations' multiplayer matches will resemble the conquest mode of games like the Battlefield series in that they will feature various key points that can be captured for your side by sending your army into the vicinity of each hotspot and hanging out until a meter ticks down and the point flips over to your team's control. All maps contain victory points that, when captured, earn your team points that count toward an eventual victory, but several maps will also have separate points of interest that, when captured, will provide extra bonuses in battle, such as airfields that provide extra uses of the air strike ability.
Our own multiplayer session started on a large, symmetrical temperate map with 10 players, five on each side (the other nine slots were taken over by expert Trion staffers). We ended up playing a light assault squad that was more focused on speed than on firepower on the blue team with a fistful of light fast-attack vehicles and an unarmed tactical vehicle for using various special abilities. The map itself had several victory points to capture, but the primary victory point lay at the dead center, and presumably to give us a good demonstration of combat, the Trion team primarily clustered around this center point. We decided to try to take advantage of our hosts' hospitality and hide out from the initial skirmish, which our opponents won, later sneaking in to capture the control point.
We would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for that pesky entire red team, which chewed up the majority of our forces with withering tank fire, leaving only our slow-moving, unarmed support vehicle to desperately try to get to cover, though at one point, the majority of the enemy team withdrew to guard the hotspot, leaving only one enemy squad to mop us up, at which point, we called in a carpet-bombing air strike, painting the very tracks of our last vehicle. This last-ditch trick actually paid off and the air strike completely destroyed our weakened pursuer. Unfortunately, there wasn't much else we could do with an unarmed vehicle, so we chose to voluntarily kill off our own squad and respawn, and this time, to not be such a jackass. We fell in line behind our teammates, some of whom had heavier tanks that were better at soaking up damage, while we laid down covering fire and generally tried not to die, which worked out a lot better for us.
End of Nations' premise may seem unusual, but the nuts and bolts of the actual gameplay seem to boil down to smart, tactical decisions, skillful team tactics, and a good sense of timing around using your character's special powers, which work on a traditional MMORPG cooldown timer. The game will launch next year.