A Bold New Step in the Conquest of a Genre
An RTS was one of the few things I thought I'd never see in an MMO form. RPGs have been the defacto standard in MMO, shooters don't need to be MMO in order to have sixty people on a server, though I've always expected one day I'd see an MMO FPS, but while the concept was interesting, it seemed there were far too many problems to work around to create an MMO RTS. The concept of it certainly isn't new. Anyone who has played the Darien Crusades, or the Galaxy Wars meta-games for Total Annihilation and TA: Kingdoms on Boneyards knows a few things about a peristent universe where teams move to take over control of an area to expand their faction, but for all of them to be doing this is real time, how the heck could that be done?
It seems the folks at Nexon finally figured it out. Players are not represented by their armies, but by their hero. Just like in an RPG, the hero must gain levels, allocate statistics points, and collect items, or in this case, units. In order to arrive at a battle, the player literally walks around all the sections of the map via a system of inter-connecting portals. There is no instant teleport to a destination, the player truly takes time to arrive at a battle, meaning that the players currently in the battle must wait for reinforcements to arrive.
Of course, gameplay isn't exactly like playing Starcraft. Unlike most RTS games where you must build a base, harvest resources, build a huge and balanced army to attack your enemy, you are given units and only units. Not only do you only get units, but you are limited in the number of units you have. Usually you get six units at a time, if you boost you stats enough you can get up to twelve units. This is where the teamwork comes in. Some players may bring air support, some may bring tanks, others may bring anti-air, others may bring fast infantry units. All players need to work together to form attacking (or defending) parties when going out on the map. Fortunately, though, if you die, you can still respawn (after a delay, of course) provided you have more units at your disposal (you can hold over forty units.)
That brings us to objectives. If players respawn, surely the goal can't be to destroy all players? Of course it isn't, though the more you destroy, the more experience points your hero (and individual units) accrues. Throughout all maps, there are POCs (Points of Contention) which must be claimed or defended. For each of these POCs, a ground unit must stand on it and defend it for thirty seconds until the possession changes to your faction. These serve as the choke points for each battle. Typically the ownership of each POC may change on several occasions during a battle. Your team's goal is to control at least three POCs by the end of the time limit.
That in itself would sound fairly boring if everything were highly predictable, wouldn't it? Fortunately, there is a bit more of interest to spice things up. As each unit gains experience, it also gains the ability to use better weapons, armor, and engines, or even be upgraded to a more advanced version of the frame. Each unit can have its loadout customized similar to the way a Mech Warrior game customizes each unit. that means that just because you see a player with a pack of anti-air turrets, it doesn't mean it will be as easy to defeat as the last one. It doesn't even mean that every one in that grouping will be identical to each other. Now that makes for some interesting strategy!
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