Tom Clancy’s EndWar Online preview: Free, fast factions

EndWar Online isn’t really a sequel to the 2008 console and PC Tom Clancy game. Nor is it a reboot or continuation. It’s more of a spin-off towards a formula designed to garner greater success.

The reborn EndWar is a fast-paced RTS that can be played for 10 minutes during your lunch break.

That isn’t to say End War was a failure. It just wasn’t best suited to PlayStation and Xbox and didn’t command the audience it required for long enough.

The solution is a refined approach targeting a Windows, and Mac, crowd as a free-to-play browser-based game. Ubisoft has found immense success with almost everything free-to-play it’s touched, and logic suggests it can do it again under the somewhat irrelevant but highly recognisable flagship Tom Clancy brand — I wonder if kids think Tommy is some French bloke acting as the Miyamoto of Ubisoft.

The reborn EndWar is a fast-paced RTS that can be played for 10 minutes during your lunch break.

Set 10 years after the end of World War III, players take control of one of three of the original factions from End War in a desperate bid to regain their strongholds: The Russians, the European Federation or the Americans.

Our demonstration opened with the Russians and Euros fighting over what was left of Paris and a crippled Eiffel Tower. Battles begin in a surprisingly deep management mode where I envision you’ll spend most of your time. Here you equip load-outs, unlock upgrades and generally figure out why you’re about to fight each other — blink and you’ll miss the story.

The single-player boasts 10 regions, each offering 10 chapters housing another five missions to work your way through as the three federations try and reclaim whatever land they can after civilisation has come crumbling down.

However, our hands-on session followed PvP multiplayer, based on global territories. You’re tasked with reclaiming as many contested territories for your nation as possible on a global scale within a time limit. The faction with the most wins at the end of the period is declared the victor.

End War Online resides in the realm of MOBA, but feels a lot like a tower defence game. In the two games I played, the objective was clear: protect my base from attack while I destroy the opposing fortress on the otherside of the three-pronged map.

There are only three paths — A, B and C — leading to the opposing fortress and once either player breaks through the roaming lines of defence there is little resilience. My faceless companion (I have no idea which of the players across from me he was) and I both adopted an all out attack approach, calling in as many tanks, attack choppers, anti-aircraft machinery, inventory and airstrikes as the game would allow, leaving little thought for defence.

When either of us broke the lines with a sizeable contingency of steadfast units, it was all over.

The combat, at this stage, is skewed towards whoever gets on top first. We both sent as many units forward as possible and hoped ours were the first to arrive, resulting in a 1-1 draw.

While I only played two rounds, the idea is obvious. The short-sharp battles are designed to be completed within 10 minutes — even less if one player dominates early — but there’s enough to potentially keep you entertained for as long as any full retail game.