E3 2012: End of Nations (Hands-on)

by: Travis -
Petroglyph Games is host to some of the original developers from ex-Westwood Studios that created real-time strategy masterpieces including the Command and Conquer series. It was with this knowledge upon visiting the Trion Worlds booth at E3 that I had high expectations for the upcoming massively multiplayer online real-time strategy game, End of Nations. After some hands-on time with the game and learning new details about its free-to-play model, I walked away thoroughly impressed with the gameplay model and focus on accessibility.

Other than the release of StarCraft II, real-time strategy games haven't seen much innovation in the past couple of years. Most are either too complex for newcomers and require great amounts of time or simply don't expand beyond the genre's norms. End of Nations aims to set a new standard for the real-time strategy genre by introducing both accessible and fair gameplay that's combined in an enticing massively multiplayer online experience.

It's no secret that free-to-play games are ridiculed for any mention of the pay-to-win concept. It was evident from the beginning of my hands-on session with the game that End of Nations is focusing on providing each player with a balanced experience that's both fun and fair. The fair and balanced sentiment was repeated on each occurrence in which I inquired about the free-to-play model and microtransactions.

Two forms of microtransactions that were featured in the E3 demo included elite companies and unit skins that ranged from traditional army camouflage to bacon. Elite companies are an assortment of unit types that contain unique models, which are only acquirable through the in-game store. I was assured that elite companies are completely balanced with other units that are earned through gameplay progression. The Blitz elite company, modeled after the German military blitzkrieg tactic, included devastating tanks and mech units that juggled stick grenades. The level of detail in the units are on par with the game's beautifully-crafted environments and Risk-style overworld map; its presentation is simply astounding to behold when in a hectic battle of gunfire and missile explosions.

Accessibility for players is an important goal that ensures quick and entertaining matches. The gameplay is designed to appeal to both casual and experienced real-time strategy gamers by including an assortment of cross-genre game modes and match sizes that can support up to 28 versus 28 player battles. The massive and persistence world in End of Nations is updated with all the wins and losses that occur in matches. The game will include an extensive tutorial, co-op campaign and horde modes, and a variety of match types for versus gameplay.

Since End of Nations focuses on providing players with instant and entertaining gameplay, the genre norm of building bases and gathering resources is removed in favor of combat. Before entering battles, players will utilize their personal armory that contains all of the units acquired through level progression and purchased from the in-game store. Units can be placed in companies that act as the game's form of loadouts for combat. Companies can be designed for particular maps or strategies that players wish to employ if a battle encounter becomes dire. Fortunately, companies can be changed during battle if the units selected aren't working for the desired job. In addition to the armory menu, each player will have a commander character that acts as their in-game avatar for experience progression. Commanders can progress in levels by earning experience in matches and later customized through unlockable tech trees.

Before I parted ways with End of Nations, the representative from Trion Worlds affirmed that players will be able to experience the full gameplay experience without spending any amount of money. With that said, I'm now overly excited for when the End of Nations open beta arrives this summer for Windows PC.


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