Real Time Strategy games may not exactly be the talk of the town anymore, but I nonetheless anticipate when an RTS of note is on the horizon. Tom Clancy’s EndWar Online has been in development for a while now and has had some closed alpha testing in the past, but now the game is opening up for more people to experience. I have to say, while it certainly isn’t a revolutionary experience, EndWar Online executes the RTS formula very well and kept me engaged in its beta for many hours and likely will for many more.
The game has a pretty simple premise, as the world has essentially gone to hell in a hand basket and all parts of the world are battling each other in World War 3. The war goes on for so long that eventually everyone runs out of supplies, though that doesn’t mean the war is over and the fighting continues as each faction needs a general to boost morale and turn the tide of the war. That’s where you come in, as you choose to lead one of 3 factions as you aim to rebuild your HQ and reclaim all of your areas lost land and win that war!
EndWar Online eases you into its mechanics very gradually, as you start off with very basic levels where you learn to deploy your units like tanks, gunships, infantry and so on. You will have a set amount of each type of unit to deploy per match, and each unit comes with a varying recharge rate. Your objectives are typically pretty simple, as you and your opponent have a base and it’s your goal to destroy the enemy base before they destroy your base. Your units will act on their own once you have chosen their paths and deployed them into battle, though you do have control in utilizing their rechargeable special abilities that speed them up or make them cause more damage. Each stage comes with 3 secondary objectives that will grant you a star each, resulting in you getting bigger rewards upon completion of the battle. Veteran and Elite difficulties can be unlocked further down the road as you increase your level for those looking for more of a challenge than the initial difficulty offers, while also increasing your level completion rewards even further.
There are 3 main forms of currency that you’ll gain by completing battles that all have specific uses throughout the various mechanics of the game; and they are energy, fame and gold. Energy is the most common and is used to do things like level unit zones to increase their overall HP, increase the stats of your commanders to make them stronger and grant them additional abilities. Fame is used solely to enlist new commanders into your army, which grants you units with different abilities compared to the ones you start off with. For example: your initial tank commander may start with the focus fire ability to do bigger damage, though you can recruit a different tank commander that instead starts with the Force Field to boost defense. Gold is less abundant and is most helpful in speeding up the process of expanding your zones, and if you get impatient and are out of gold you can spend real money to remedy that.
Yes, seeing as the game is free-to-play it does have in-game transactions that are constantly letting you know of their presence. You can spend a chunk of money to get a ton of gold and new commanders to make things easier for you, and even if you don’t the game will always keep a “friendly” reminder that you can on the side of the screen. The incessant offers to spend real money can become annoying, but luckily I never got to the point where I felt they were necessary. If you know what you’re doing and play your cards right you will have all of the in-game resources you need to steadily level up your army and complete the dozens of courses on offer without forking over a single real-life penny.
Your individual units alone have plenty of customization options for you to tinker around with, as you can equip them with different ammo, armor, attack systems and defense systems. The game thankfully streamlines the constant unlocks by letting you know when you have gear that can be used to improve one of your commanders, which keeps the customization from getting too convoluted and overwhelming. Apart from leveling your commanders through deploying them and completing stages with them, you can also increase their rank which will allow you to deploy more units in battle while also greatly improving their HP.
Graphically the game isn’t all that impressive, as it has a very basic setup with level designs and textures that are all pretty plain. You’re never gonna come across a course that drops your jaw or really wows you with its cleverness, which is a shame in some respects considering how good some other games in this genre look. However, I find that more forgivable in a web-based, arcadey game like this as its silly dialogue and graphics are all part of its charm. The game definitely isn’t trying to cram in some deep or complex story around its easily-digestible levels, and the developers took the right route by keeping the look and feel playful.
EndWar Online also has a multi-player component that currently offers Fortress mode and War Game mode, which are asynchronous and synchronous, respectively. In Fortress mode you will be selecting your troops and battling against a real-life loadout of your opponents that is controlled by AI. War Game is the more standard affair, as you are taking on your opponent in real-time and these matches tend to be much more bombastic and intense. It’s all about who can click the button first to get the troops rolling out to land the first hits or capture specific points on the map to gain stat boosts, and it’s usually all about brute force in my experience of these matches. Nothing too flashy about these modes as it’s literally the same exact experience you would be getting by playing the single-player, but it’s still fun to take on other people from around the world. More modes are gradually being added in both single and multi-player, but the aforementioned modes were all I had access to as of this review.
I can’t say I was expecting a whole lot from this beta, but Tom Clancy’s EndWar Online left me pleasantly surprised. It’s RTS formula is pretty standard as far as the genre goes, but it does what it does well enough and offers so much content that it’s easy to overlook. Managing your own army in quick and action-packed battles is always a blast, and there’s enough customization packed in for your to create your own strategies for completing the levels. If you’re into this genre or are at all curious to giving the beta a shot, then Tom Clancy’s EndWar Online is a safe bet for you. With more development time and refinement this game will only get better, but even at its current state it’s a blast.