And multiplayer is where things really start to get interesting, because the mechanics here are messed up
. In a good way. Think of traditional RTS titles, where multiplayer takes a few set courses. Either one player barricades himself in, hoping to last out to the last couple of players, or one player uses an uber built order to rush out a number of super units before anyone else has barely finished picking their nose, or the game becomes a protracted battle with all parties slowly whittling away at each other, hoping that attrition will take its course before they have to go to bed.
World in Conflict
aims to give you an RTS game in 20 minutes.
How so? Well, the limited number of people playing RTS online, Massive theorises, is down to the fact that you can log on and play Counter-Strike
or World of Warcraft
for just 20 or 30 minutes in a lunch break. You don't have to make a commitment, you can just hop on and hop in. The concept of the respawn is crucial to this -- when you die, you're not out of the game, you just wait a bit and come back in.
multiplayer, which up to 16 people can play simultaneously, there's a set objective on the map, and that objective must be done in 20 minutes, when the map rotates or the round resets. When you start the map, you're given a set number of credits to establish your army via air-drop, and you can choose the role you want to play from assault, defence, and other paradigms. Throw your troops onto the battlefront, then get going.
Here's where it gets interesting, and where the concept of the RTS respawn that Massive is betting on comes from. As your troops die on the front line, their value trickles back into your credits account, enabling you to air-drop in more. The replacement is not immediate, but it does mean that you can bring in reinforcements and play with a lot more gusto and fun than if you were terrified that a wrong move would wipe you out of the game.
So this is pretty nifty. We played a few rounds of this gameplay, as both Russians and Americans, and the rounds were incredibly good fun -- and because you don't just die then sit out the rest of the game, tactics are more varied. The quick map rotation also keeps things interesting. Massive is hoping that this game dynamic could make this a great tournament game.
World of War
And that's without mentioning the awesome nuclear strikes, the fact you can burn down forests to make new routes through the terrain for your troops or the awesome sniping and demolition abilities. The game is shaping up to be a lot of fun, not to mention one of the best looking games of the year, and it could well take over from Supreme Commander
RTS to be playing this year. If Massive gets it right, and the multiplayer works as well as it appears to, it could spawn a whole host of clones, not to mention a massive online following. World in Conflict
is due out some time in the spring, and we can't wait.