End of Nations is a massively multiplayer RTS with 50-player maps. Seriously

End of Nations is a self-described Massively Multiplayer Online Real-Time Strategy game from MMO developer Trion Worlds. If you visit gaming websites with any regularity, the phrase MMORTS probably brings forth horrible visions of the Sears catalog lingerie models used in those horrible Evony ads. But we promise End of Nations is about as far from that as humanly possible. And if the concept of an MMORTS alone isn't enough to sell you, it's also being developed by the ex-developers of the Command & Conquer series.

The first thing you absolutely need to know is that some maps in End of Nations can support up to 50 players – each with his or her own army. Take a moment to digest that. The scale and scope of the battles that we saw and played in this game was amazing. Also, since there is no in-game base-building mechanic, there's nothing to hold you back from the full-on war that is exploding all around you. You join up with your friends and jump into the battle.

In relatively common RTS style, the battles are fought over huge bases which give control of the region to one side or the other. But the really awesome part comes when the raid bosses come into play. Yes, you read that correctly - there are raid bosses in this RTS. They aren't giant monsters; they’re massive, fortress-like walls (the one we saw was called The Acropolis) which players need to team up to take down. But they don't go out without a fight. They're equipped with huge amounts of weaponry, and to make matters worse, they also set off an alarm which alerts surrounding bases to start pumping out units to defend.

The raid bosses/walls actually create a very MMORPG-esque feel. In our demo, one player with some heavy-duty tanks ended up at the forefront of the fight, taking the brunt of the damage. Others were doing their best to keep the additional enemy units under control as they were built, and still others were dealing tons of damage to the innards of the Acropolis.

But let's slow down and back up. If you don't build units on the battlefield, how does it work? Rather than rebuilding your base each and every time you fight, your base serves as your "character". This is your persistent unit that you continue to level up and trick out as you keep playing. This base exists on a secret island out in the Pacific which nobody knows about. Each new feature you add to it increases your options in the fight. For example, if you build an Airfield you'll be able to call in powerful air strikes.

All of this is maintained and managed via End of Nations’ impressive world map, which shows you how the battle is progressing in real-time. We're told that when the game goes live and battles start happening, you'll be able to see little tactical nukes being set off in conflicts across the world. Whether or not these correspond with actual events happening in those sectors or if they're just symbolic of an ongoing battle, we can't be sure yet.

The visuals were also fairly impressive. While still lacking some polish, we saw a very good-looking level in which huge swaths of land were enveloped in a forest fire, the night sky lit up by huge flames as our tank battalion fought its way to the Acropolis for our final confrontation. Epic? Yeah, actually. It was.

Jul 16, 2010