E3 2011: End of Nations hands-on preview – RTS becomes MMO

The first thing we thought when the developers at Petroglyph told us that they were making an MMORTS was “Damn…that’s a funny sounding acronym.” Muh-morts? The second thing was “how on Earth do you turn a real-time-strategy game into an MMO that supports more than 50 players at a time?” The answer, it seems, is to shift the focus from the economic footrace and tech-tree climbing most other RTS games are known for (aka StarCraft) to a leveling system that improves your entire base and remains persistent from game to game. But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves.

Taking place in the not too distant future, a world government has been established called The Order of Nations. This faction has essentially abolished all smaller governments, established a worldwide totalitarian regime, erased cultural identity and a bunch of other really unpleasant things. While this sacrifice of freedoms and cultural borders has created world peace, not everybody is happy with the way things are being run and so two factions rise up – The Liberation Front (a democratic party) and The Shadow Revolution (basically, another fascist regime). These two factions join forces to put an end to The Order of Nations, but who’s to say how long their alliance will last?

As we stated before, the game focuses on a leveling system that governs the strength of your starting base. Instead of constantly micromanaging the harvesting of resources and the production of troops, you’re initially given control of a modest squad that can move about the map. This approach to RTS gameplay made the experience much less tense than, say, a round of StarCraft where absolutely every minute counts. Of course, we were playing the game with only ten other players; not 50. Likewise, not every match has the same winning conditions. End of Nations places a very strong emphasis on positioning by forcing players to contend for control points across any given map. Capturing control points grants special abilities like missile barrages against enemy encampments, increased economic income, special troop abilities and more.

Missions range from PvE, PvP and cooperative. You select the type of match you want to play from a world map that changes dynamically based upon how certain factions are currently performing. During our time with the demo, we joined a PvP match and chose a squad made up of air units so we could quickly travel from one point to another. While our allies put pressure on enemy control points, we flew behind enemy lines to pick off reinforcing enemy troops.

Game developer Ted Morris explained to us that as you gain more and more experience, you can unlock additional squad units, increase the size of your squad, gain new combat abilities to deploy in the battlefield and much more. He also reassured us that Petroglyph has designed the game in such a way that low-level players still have a chance to take on higher-level combatants and still come out on top. Leveling up your base simply allows for more options to be considered when forming a squad while not necessarily making you more powerful than your opponents.

Sufficed to say, we had a pretty fun time testing out End of Nations. Seeing this game in action with over 50 different squads going head to head will definitely make for some truly epic battles. While this game probably won’t dethrone any of Blizzard’s RTS behemoths, it’s definitely something that RTS fans should keep an eye on. Company reps were hesitant to make any promises regarding release date (one of those "when it's done" things), but we're hoping to see the game by the end of 2011.

Jun 16, 2011

Jordan Baughman is a freelance journalist who has written for the likes of GamesRadar and Gamer magazine. With a passion for video games and esports, Baughman has been covering the industry for years now, and even hopped the fence to work as a public relations coordinator for clients that include EA, Capcom, Namco, and more.