So I had the opportunity to hang out with the EoN team at their PAX booth most of the PAX weekend, and as a result not only did I get to play the game a lot, I also talked with a lot of people who were trying the game. The devs were interested in hearing some feedback based both on my thoughts and feedback from the players I talked to, so, here it is...
Disclaimer: Bear in mind that the game is still in or near the alpha stage and many aspects are still in flux. Everything that follows is purely based on my observations of the game, discussions with the devs, and my own opinion. It is safe to assume that much of what I talk about below will change, in some cases significantly, by the time EoN reaches beta.
Oh, and I should mention that my photos didn't turn out, so I had to crib photos from one of the YouTube videos from Gamescom
I had a lot of fun playing EoN, and from everything I saw the game is shaping up really well. The devs have constantly stated that they have endeavoured to produce a high-quality RTS game first before adding in the appropriate MMO elements, and in my opinion they are succeeding thus far. The game played very smoothly and responsively, looked great visually, and had relatively few noticeable bugs. The EoN matches at PAX involved a single PvP map, with an 8v8 match going on constantly (not two 4v4 matches as I mistakenly first thought, due to the fact that you only ever see three teammates listed in your party in the current game build). The gameplay reminded me of DoW II, and I think any RTS player will feel right at home in the game.
By the way, much of what I will say has already been covered in the reports from Gamescon a week ago. I apologize for any redundancy, but I am going to give my thoughts in full.
The Battle and Global Maps
The global map really wasn’t available for players to try out, but I did get a decent look at it. It isn’t really much different from the pictures of the map posted previously on the EoN Junkies site. One thing to note is that the map has two settings, one for viewing the available battles for PvE, and one for PvP. I don’t really have any suggestions for the global map since we didn’t use it during the weekend.
We only had access to only a single PvP map for the weekend, located in Western Australia. This battle map comprised a series of winding paths along a narrow map, with about 10-12 control points of different types (see below) spread throughout. The map reminded me of many of the DoW II maps, which have multiple paths to objectives and lots of choke points. There wasn’t much in the way of open space for maneuvering in this particular map, but some of the videos show maps that appear to have much more open space which means the tactics will change map to map.
- It would be nice to have a wide variety of battle map types with different landscapes, but I think this is already the plan.
In the matches we played, there were three types of control points that could be captured: resource, respawn, and super weapon (I can’t recall the actual in game names). The resource points provided an increased rate of income for whichever team controlled it, and I believe there were four of them on the map, two near each team’s HQ. In addition, each HQ had one nearby respawn control point that could be captured for forward respawing (this is in addition to the two respawn points inside each HQ). Capturing the respawn point at the far end of the map provided a huge tactical advantage by allowing a team to easily invade the enemy’s HQ after respawing.
The superweapon control point in the center of the map was where much of the fighting took place since capturing it did provide a huge advantage. However, what I noticed was that players would often rush the superweapon and ignore the resource and respawn points, usually to their team’s detriment. The superweapon takes a long time to capture, and early on each team will benefit more from taking resource points for the extra cash. I should mention that this captured superweapon is different than the superweapon abilities that players can launch manually (see below). Capturing this particular superweapon control point spawned a number of NPC aircraft that continually bombed the enemy team, which was often quite devastating.
One thing to note about the control points is the time it takes to capture and “de-capture” a control point. In the current build, it takes the same amount of time to revert an enemy held point to neutral as it does to then convert the point to your team. The devs mentioned at PAX that they are thinking about tweaking this in some way, perhaps to make the “de-capture” time shorter than the capture time. I myself am ambivalent about this. Having a shorter de-capture time mean that it is quite easy to undo an enemy capture. That will make it easy to prevent capturing and harder to capture it yourself. It may work fine, or it may make things frustrating. Since I don’t have a solid opinion, I can’t make a firm suggestion about this.
- The “de-capture” and capture times need to make sense, but it sounds like the devs are already thinking about this.