You may have seen it from elsewhere on the web, but we were there as well. We visited the press meeting where we got some first-hand preview of the game End of Nations. A game that very well may be the "real" follow up to the older Command and Conquer series we've wanted to play for quite some time.
End of Nations is actually created by the people who worked at Westwood some years ago, the loveable geeks that once created the original Command and Conquer game. They formed Petroglyph some time ago and they've worked hard on creating this new real time strategy game that makes Command and Conquer look like kindergarten. (Don't worry, I still love C&C, no matter what!)
Together with Trion Worlds, who created the very popular game Rift, this game sure has some interesting features behind the curtains.
Coming out big, for now, with 26 versus 26 players on a single map, each carrying a maximum of 20 units, totaling 1040 units which could give some serious fire power. The "small" maps of a total of 52 players are just a small part of the whole picture, each map is part of the whole planet Earth. You're fighting for a territory which might be Australia, France or the UK.
Each territory gives a different scenario in which you might have to keep your own defense line while in some scenarios you should speed off to various destinations to capture valuable resources. For those who are familiar with PvP battles in World of Warcraft, such as Arathi Basin, knows that you need to capture specific points in order to capture resources which ticks up faster the more resource points you have.
The same goes for EoN where you capture points to get resource points and the team that reaches the set score will win that round. Some resource points however might be factories that give you special weapons and those special weapons might be EMP or nuclear warheads.
In the morning after we had our press meeting we got to play the game just 1on1 to get to know and get a feel for the game. I must be honest, I haven't played an RTS game like this for a few years so I surely was a bit rusty, I easily got kicked by my fellow journalist opponents, what a defeat!
At this point, there was quite a bit to take in about how the game works, how you can control your units and all such. But what I can say, if you have played games like C&C and similar in the past the pieces fall in place quite quickly. However when I had all the pieces in the correct places, I realized that my opponent had his pieces figured out quite some time ago.
What a rush! The graphics, which aren't completely final yet, are still very nice and high quality. You can also zoom in and out to either get a better view of the field (not as far as I would have liked though) and also zoom in to get more of the fantastic details.
After my defeat I was eager to sneak up on my opponents to have a look on their tactics to see how I could defeat them in the near future. I watched them for a while and figured I would go a bit more offensive then the last time.
When we got ready for the 4on4 match I surely was more prepared and during the break I got shown a nifty feature which I thought I would use. One of the developers showed me that you can actually have several companies configured with different units. So if you find out that you're not prepared for the competition and need perhaps a few more tanks, you can switch companies. This actually makes it possible to have up to 60 different units fighting for you, not at the same time however.
When you switch company, your units on the battlefield disappears and the new ones reappear at the nearest spawnpoint.
Prepared with that, I actually got a bit further with my action. The overall experience from the 4on4 compared to the 1on1 was a huge difference. You easily got more help and you could as easily help others who were taking fire, making the hostile takeover of resource points much easier, and way more fun.
We didn't quite finish as we wanted as we ended in defeat that time as well.
What most of us figured out this far was that we were missing voice chat, it was hard to communicate between the members of the team both because we didn't really know who was on which team but also because the other team was in the same room as us.
After that match we got informed that there are actually several different chat channels that we could have used to communicate, but we all felt that in an RTS, if you stop the action to type as fast as you can to tell others where you are and that you need help, it most often will end in a cryptic message and loss of action, making you end up in a pool of goo.
Alright, so the devs came with another solution, you can send out pings on the minimap to where you want your fellow teammembers to go to help you out, or to inform them where you're going. Well that surely speeds up the communication, but that's still a bit not as good as we would have liked.
We still pushed on the voice chat feature and the devs told us that they've thought about it and it may come in a later release, perhaps in the full version, maybe a bit later. They also thought that most gamers use Ventrilo, Teamspeak or Mumble to chat and sure, those solutions are well known, well working and all that.
But what if you join a random game with 26 other players who aren't playing in a team? Are you gonna settle for one server, one service and all such while the other team rush in to hunt you down? It just doesn't feel right and while I was playing End of Nations during the press meeting, until today, that is the only negative feeling I have for the game.
I believe there should at least be a simple, basic voice chat available in game to make everyone, even single players, able to voice chat with the rest of the team.
Anyhow, we then settled for lunch and some break for the game. We actually waited for the "lazy" devs back in the US to wake up and go to work, so we could give them some buttkicking in their own game.
Soon enough, a couple of hours later, we finally got to play with some of the devs who were left behind in the US. We joined a 12on12 match and my reaction to that is, just Wow! I just can't imagine 26on26, it will surely be massive.
This time we hit the west part of Australia and our objective was to destroy the base of the other team. Unfortunately for the other team, we have had some evil defeats and we also were aggressive and fully awake, so we managed to give the other team a serious match.
The game took probably an easy 30-40 minutes and we easily took several resource points, we also got a nuclear factory and when the nukes were ready, we fired off four or five nukes in the same area, magically without speaking to each other, in the same area. In the same area.. It was totally EPIC and great fun. We ganked the other team so hard that they are probably still crying over their defeat.
After that we just moved in and cleared the map, in no time. The action was impressive and if you compare it to Command & Conquer, End of Nations will easily kick its butt more than a hundred times before coming close to what we experienced during the press meeting.
The fact the game will be free to play, which makes it possible for everyone to play the game without spending any money at all, means that this game will most probably and most hopefully become huge. There will be two different currencies in the game, but for the currency where you can actually spend real money, you won't get anything that might give you an advantage over other players.
At most there will only be some minor features like a color scheme, skins and such. But all the weapons, addons, tanks and the like will only be purchasable through the in game earnable currency. So the more you play, the more in game currency you will get and that will be the way to get new units and eventually get you an advantage over your opponents.
Please remember though, nothing is set in stone and they are still in beta figuring stuff out, configuring and tweaking the game. I was told that some graphics were missing, even though I didn't spot any errors. Some functions aren't ready yet and so on. So what we've tested is purely a first view, although it's an excellent first view.
My final reaction to the game was, thank you Petroglyph and Trion Worlds!
Make sure you head over to http://www.endofnations.com for more information about the game. The game will have its final release in the end of the summer slash in the fall and we surely can't wait for the full release.
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