is a real-time strategy game in the Tom Clancy
line that attempts to capture the notion of modern warfare through aversion or subversion of the tropes we usually associate with real time strategy.
...if only it were that easy.
The story of the game centers around the obvious: World War III
. Set Twenty Minutes into the Future
, major nuclear terrorism in the Middle East in 2016 causes gas prices to skyrocket, with Russia becoming the world's only major exporter of oil. In 2017, the orbital anti-ICBM shield
jointly deployed by the European Union and the United States goes online, ending the threat of worldwide nuclear war. At the same time, Russia's export of oil and energy causes them to experience a significant economic boom, allowing them to become an international military and economic superpower again. In response to this, Western Europe forges a new charter for the Union, becoming the European Federation
- with the notable exception of Great Britain. The prologue to the game begins in 2020, with the US about to complete the Freedom Star orbital military platform, which will shift the balance of power - which upsets the EF, who leaves NATO.
That was a lot. You can get a drink, now, and come back when you're ready. The next section spoils the tutorial, for your information.
Needless to say, everything goes wrong. "Terrorists"
attack the three superpowers. The US attacks the EF, believing they're funding the terrorists, because Russia planted the evidence. Before those two can compare notes and come to a conclusion, Russia manages to slip in (again, in the guise of the terrorists) and hijack the missile shield with a virus, and the Freedom Star lifter is mistaken for an ICBM by the missile shield and exploded. Presto. World War III
. The player takes on the role of a battalion commander for an elite force on one of three sides of the conflict:
- The Joint Strike Force (Amber, United States). An evolution of the Marines drawn from all the best US Special Forces, whose motto is "High speed, low drag". Specialize in precision fire, fast deployment, stealth, and robotics. Has a 'balanced' amount of speed and hitpoints.
- The Enforcer Corps (Blue, European Federation). Elite troops from all the major special forces and armies of Europe, who favor energy and non-lethal weaponry, electronic warfare, and high-speed vehicles. To make up for that speed, they have lower hitpoints than everyone else.
- The Spetsnaz Guard Brigade (Green, Russia). A heavily armed and elite force drawn from the ranks of the newly-revived Russia, specializing in heavy armor and heavy weapons, with heavily weaponized vehicles and modified standard-issue gear. Their forces are the slowest moving within the game, so they have more hitpoints to compensate.
Mechanically, the game mixes in a few RPG Elements
- your battalion is persistent between missions, gaining in experience and ability. An incapacitated unit will be evacuated, but the enemy can still kill it before that happens. Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors
is generally in full effect - Riflemen beat Engineers, Engineers beat vehicles (with exceptions for good strategy), vehicles (usually) beat Riflemen. In the vehicles quadrant, they have their own rock paper scissors scheme - Tanks beat Transports, Transports beat Choppers, and Choppers beat Tanks. Outside of the triangle, there are Command Vehicles (purely tactical use, but with a drone escort that beats helicopters) and Artillery (beats everything at long range except Choppers, dies in close combat). However, when factoring in unit experience and upgrades and numbers, it can get a bit more blurred.
The game also prides itself on a Voice Command system that allows players to command units with their voice using a simple structure. "Unit 1 Attack Hostile 1" for instance would give your first unit the command to attack the enemy designated as Hostile 1. This system exists in the fluff as the "Overlord" battlefield command system, with the player character intended to be a CO using cutting edge technology to gain an unprecedented, real-time, complete view of the battlefield instead of having the magical birds-eye viewpoint common to RTS games. The camera system reflects this and allows the player to view the battlefield only from the point of view of a highlighted unit as if through a gun-camera they carry (Or through the SitRep if you have a Command Vehicle, but that view of the battlefield leaves out many, many details, along with unit feedback), causing no small amount of "they changed the genre, now it sucks
" from some RTS fans. In reverse, fans of the game consider this to have no actual loss of function, especially when physical input and voice commands are used in combination to issue orders as fast as possible.
Also has a spinoff for the DS and PSP, a turn-based game with more than a passing resemblance to Advance Wars
or Battle Isle. Its unique twists on the formula are a two-part turn cycle, unit placement providing boni to engagements and a rather limited supply of extra units (capturing a depot will only allow you to build one or two top-shelf units and some light vehicles and infantry, assuming it even contains supplies). The setting is roughly the same, though it doesn't reveal any of the backstory and the split between the US and Europe comes much later.
A sequel is said to be in development, but was put on hold
In September 2013, a free to play browser game spinoff called EndWar Online
was announced. Set After the End
, it takes place about a decade after the the original EndWar, which ended in a stalemate and left the world in tatters. However, even the end of the world has not brought an end to war. Remnants of the superpowers' once-mighty armies lie scattered, forced to scavenge from the dead in order to survive. Their vast territories are ravaged and occupied by separatists, deserters and bandits. If a sufficiently capable leader could reunite their forces and retake and rebuild their lands, then they might have enough strength to not just survive, but finally win the EndWar...
Gameplay-wise, it's split between the HQ, where the player manages their resources and army, and the tactical battles, which are based around lanes between a pair of bases. Units can only be deployed on these lanes, which they will progress on until they encounter an enemy unit or reach the enemy base, causing them to stop moving and start shooting. Armies are based around Commanders, each leading a group of units of one type with the same basic capabilities as others of the same type, but possessing their own set of special abilities. Each Commander levels up independently of one another, either unlocking new abilities or upgrading existing ones. They can also be fitted with Equipment, which will affect their units' performance in battle.
This game provides examples of:
This game provides aversions of:
- Anti-Poop Socking : Somewhat in multiplayer (although there's nothing preventing you from blowing through the entire singleplayer campaign in one marathon session). Ceasefires are used inbetween turns, and CP points determine what units you can draw.
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Your supply of reinforcements is very limited, as is the amount of units you can have on the field at one time. Also, you are permitted one Command Vehicle, two Artillery, and six Infantry on the field at once.
- And to a lesser extent, your choice of battalion can limit the amount of units you can deploy. Any others are temporary New Meat recruits you won't get to keep. The composition depends on what type your battalion is:
- Attack Drone: JSF and EFEC command vehicles are escorted by a squad of these. They're armed with machine guns by default, but can be upgraded with missiles (JSF) or lasers (EFEC). However, they're not especially powerful against anything except gunships. Non-upgraded drones can also be deployed by Engineers to defend an Uplink. Neither variant can be directly controlled, though the escort variant can be ordered by the command vehicle to attack specific targets.
- The Spetznaz just use a batch of raw recruits for guard duty in both cases... although the voiceovers still refer to them as drones.
- In Raid missions, the target structures are all guarded by four drones each who prioritize air targets. This is to make sure the attacker can't simply Zerg Rush the targets with gunships right as the mission starts.
- Authority Equals Asskicking:
- Some upgrades can only be purchased when you have a unit of a high enough experience rank, and only units which also at least meet that rank requirement can use them.
- The Command Vehicle is, while not too great at general combat, quite durable.
- Also played somewhat literally - as your rank increases, you gain command abilities (Like snipe, missiles, SAWs, and higher levels of off-map support). A highly-ranked commander is probably going to have a very well tuned battalion with significant support.
- Autobots, Rock Out!: The credits song alone makes it worth to finish the game multiple times.
- Badass Army: Each of the different factions are elite soldiers from their respective countries.
- Badass Boast: Quite often overheard during combat, especially if your unit has the advantage.
Spetznaz Engineer: Welcome to Hell, we will be your hosts today!
- Badass Creed - Every single battalion has one. Some of the better ones:
- JSF 13th Airborne: Judgment From the Heavens
- JSF 35th Airborne: Death from Above
- JSF 26th Mechanized: Drive It Like You Stole It
- Spetznaz 13th Airborne: You Should Be Running Now
- Spetznaz 35th Armored: Big Tanks Thirst For Blood
- Spetznaz 48th Tactical: Today We Feed The Crows
- EFEC 16th Mechanized: Death to Tyrants
- EFEC in general: Se vis pacem, para bellum. note
- Beam Spam: The EFEC has access to lasers, and use them quite prolifically.
- Big Damn Heroes: On a Siege mission, you have to keep a Critical Uplink under your control for ten minutes without any reinforcement whatsoever. When that ten minutes are up, this trope occurs in the most epic fashion possible.
- Blood Knight: Many Russian units have this personality, often expressing disappointment or surprise when ordered to evacuate.
- Bond One-Liner: Just prior to bringing up the mission results screen, your XO's will make rather nasty quips about your opponents if you won. For example, beating the EFEC as the JSF yields...
Maj. Alice Dennison: Sleep tight, Eurotrash.
- Crapsack World: Heavily implied to be this. The oil crisis meant that only the richest and most technologically advanced countries could survive; the United States has the funds and reserves to survive, Europe has developed hydrogen-powered engines to the point where they no longer need oil, and Russia controls most of the world's oil anyway. Most other countries simply couldn't sustain themselves and broke down into anarchy. The United Nations has been disbanded due to diplomatic breakdowns, Venezuela was apparently annexed or invaded by the United States at some point, China's economy has collapsed and is experiencing massive environmental disasters, India and Africa are experiencing droughts that are killing thousands, and the Balkans are referred to as "a lawless anarchy of failed states".
- On the other hand, it's implied that the countries that didn't implode from the chaos are at least trying to hold their own. Switzerland, the New Commonwealth and (some parts of) South America are mentioned as having pulled this off.
- Colonel Badass: You and your allies and opponents are all Colonels in charge of your respective nations' most elite forces.
- Continuity Porn: Former Ghost Leader Captain Scott Mitchell is the head of the JSF, the JSF's attacker aircraft is flyable in HAWX, many European commanders were in Team Rainbow, Third Echelon supplies the JSF with information, the JSF recruits from Ghost Recon, etc., etc.
- Continuity Snarl: What this eventually resulted in; while it is part of a greater Continuity Snarl in the Clanceyverse, EndWar is where it's especially noticeable. To give a brief summary, Third Echelon has been branded as a terrorist organization and replaced with Fourth Echelon, EndWar, HAWX, and Ghost Recon disagree about the timing and the nature of the war with Russia, and it seems to ignore or not mention the previous total war with Russia, which ended in total defeat for Russia, in the first Ghost Recon, even though it happened less than a decade before EndWar.
- Deadpan Snarker: The Russian XO and news announcer.
The Pope of the Catholic Church is again urging Europe and America to cease their aggression against Russia. And each other.
- Death of a Thousand Cuts: Despite only having assault rifles, riflemen can destroy tanks on their own. It's just that the tanks in question are more likely to kill them first... unless the riflemen happen to be garrisoned, in which case, they have a fair chance of fragging the tanks, albeit with heavy casualties.
- Eagleland: Nice job jumping to conclusions and immediately attacking Europe, US. (To be fair, evidence was planted, and Russia eventually shows its true colors).
- Easy Logistics: Units will never run out of fuel or ammunition.
- Elite Mooks: Your forces (and the forces you fight), to say it simply. They're all drawn from various special forces.
- However, in most missions there are also regular army units in the field, but they cannot be directly controlled and infantry will not capture uplinks. The Force Recon ability allows players to order some regular army units onto the field to guard a location, and mission-critical buildings are usually guarded by drones.
- Enemy Chatter: Inverted, possibly. Your currently selected unit will chat about a number of things. Such as...
Gunship pilot: Look at 'em down there! Sooo cute!
- Most of it consists of the soldiers chatting with each other, choosing from a random list of statements and answers.
Man, if I had a dollar for every uplink we captured...
I hear ya, man!
- Every Bullet Is a Tracer: All JSF and Spetznaz weapons fire rounds with color-coded tracers, as do the EFEC's conventional weapons.
- False Flag Operation: The terrorists attacking all 3 factions are actually funded by the Russians, with the attack on them being staged.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Played straight and averted by turns, since, realistically, there are just some assholes in your units who don't get along with anyone else, and announce their contempt for their comrades over the radio.
Spetznaz Infantry: Don't pretend like we are friends now.
JSF Vehicle: I'd never socialize with any of you people outside the force.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Some of the unit upgrades feature rather innocuous names for absolutely terrifying weapon systems. For example, the flamethrower mount for Russia's battle tanks is designated as the "Bumblebee".
- Some unit callsigns also fall under this, such as the Russian Artillery unit "Circus Cannon" or the American IFV unit "Sleigh Ride".
- This seems to be Europe's naming convention overall, as only their Riflemen and Artillery have callsigns that can even be associated with violence (types of swords and long range weaponry, respectively).
- Friendly Fireproof: Averted. It is entirely possible to hit your own forces with danger-close application of gunships, tanks or artillery if you're not careful - or you just don't care. Said units even warn you about friendlies being close - but if you do it anyway, the targeted unit will yell at you to cease fire.
- Garrisonable Structures: Infantry that is not in cover is going to die.
- Goddamned Bats: Infantry that are in cover are scary. Engineers can kill most vehicles while taking very little return damage, while Riflemen can hold their own against anything short of a tank or artillery - they have a habit of shooting down gunships that attempt to pry them out of their building. (One of the best ways to get Riflemen out of cover is other Riflemen, with Storm Building.)
- Gonna Need More X: Upon winning a battle with the JSF against Russians, one of the things the player's XO can say is:
They're gonna need bigger tanks next time!
- Informed Ability:
- JSF Engineers are supposed to have powered exoskeletons. The only difference between them and other Engineers is better anti-infantry equipment.
- EFEC Riflemen come from all around Europe and are encouraged to stick to their home country's tactics (read: non-lethal). However, they behave exactly the same as any other Riflemen unit.
- The Spetznaz tank is supposed to be equipped with an AA gun. Can be subverted if you purchase a specific map pack or play the PC version.
- Invaded States of America: Battles can happen in the US.
- Iwo Jima Pose: The American ending features one of these.
- Kick Them While They Are Down: Units that lose 75% of their HP are "down", and send up a flare to signal for evacuation after recharging their shields. Particularly unpleasant enemies may continue firing on them, or at their transport choppers, in order to kill them completely (see: Lost Forever). The acceptability, fairness, and overall jerkitude of using this tactic is debated in multiplayer games.
- You get an achievements for doing this enough (and for shooting down the transports)
- Kill It with Fire: Some Spetznaz units can be upgraded with flamethrowers.
- Kill Sat: The EF's and JSF's WMDs are both based on satellites.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Captain Scott Mitchell (of the Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter series) is alive and well in this game, so if you play this before Advanced Warfighter 2 (where Mitchell is last seen critically injured and being evacuated due to his injuries), the impact of that game's ending is rendered pointless.
- Lost Forever: Any unit which completely loses their Hit Points is removed from your persistent battalion - as is its experience. It's immediately replaced by a green unit, but still, you feel it.
- Make the Bear Angry Again: As you've probably figured out by now, Russia ends up in the villain role in a Western game yet again. Granted, a Western game made by the Chinese branch of a Canadian company, but still.
- Mêlée à Trois: The US vs the EF vs Russia.
- Multi-Platform: While the PC version has several improvements over the console versions, including the smaller HUD layout, it also has a few bugs such as the voiceover hint for garrisoning infantry into buildings referencing the color of the command reticule's range number indicating if the target is within weapons range; there is no such thing on the PC version as it uses a standard mouse cursor, not a command reticule.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Both reporting names and most unit callsigns, which makes sense as one would want to inspire a sense of dread in their foes. Seems far less common among the Europeans, as they favor a Fluffy the Terrible approach.
- Russian T-100 "Ogre" battle tanks. That reporting name alone should tell you everything you need to know about them.
- American AH-80 "Blackfoot" gunships, whose callsigns are all hideously deadly snakes. (Mamba, Diamondback, Cobra)
- American Riflemen have callsigns associated with precision lethality (or murder) and supernatural monsters. (Icepick, Vampire, Hitman)
- Neutrality Backlash: Played with. The New Commonwealth had pretensions about neutrality, but then allowed Europe to garrison troops on their soil to protect their Uplink clusters. After that, all bets were off. Averted with Israel, who really do remain neutral with no lasting effects, though one could actually see their neutrality as favoring America and Russia, since European tanks are partially of Israeli design, and possibly built by them.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Inverted. The Russians wind up screwing up their own plans. Sure, they succeed in provoking the US into attacking Europe... and then their own declaration of war against Europe (Because they're trying to help! Really!) causes the US to panic over their sudden expansionism and declare war on them as well. Oops. However, the Russian commander comments that war is inevitable and it's in Russia's best interests to pull the trigger first. Best case scenario, America helps them wipe out the EF, and they can roll in and take the spoils. Worst case, Mêlée à Trois, where at least they're ready, and the US and EF are infighting rather than focusing their efforts.
- Nuke 'em: When one side in a battle is in danger of losing (usually signified by being one capture point away from losing the map), they hit Defcon One and gain access to a single-use WMD. The EF uses a repurposed missile shield laser to burn away a specific area, the JSF gets a single shot from an orbital kinetic impactor (Rods from God) to devastate a single area, and Russia just launches a thermobaric bomb (not a nuke, but still makes a pretty big bang). If targeted on an Uplink, it permanently disables it, which can spell disaster if it's targeted properly.
- Obligatory Swearing: JSF infantry swear like, well, Marines.
- One-Hit Kill: Anything caught in a WMD's blast radius is instantly incapacitated; if the squad has lost even a single unit, it's just killed outright. Fully-upgraded Command Vehicles that took no armor damage may or may not survive.
- "Risk"-Style Map: The overview of everything in World War III and the Theatre of War.
- Russians with Refurnished Rockets: While decidedly conventional compared to the Americans and Europeans (relying more on More Dakka and old-fashioned heavy armor), the Russians by 2020 are a military powerhouse more than capable of beating both sides back. And they seem to have no qualms of doing anything for the Motherland.
- Red Shirts/Mooks: "Army troops" are your Red Shirts and enemy Mooks. They have no shields and effectively serve no real purpose other than to fight it out between themselves and whichever Special Forces (player units) they stumble upon. The Force Recon upgrade deploys slightly tougher ones with Fast Attack Vehicles and Tanks to wherever the player needs them.
- The Marksman in a Russian Riflemen Squad looks a lot like Natasha from Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3.
- The Springfield uplink cluster "is located between Springfield and Shelbyville."
- JSF chatter is generally at least perceived to be cribbed heavily from Generation Kill. If the spoken lines aren't enough, one support ability sends Joeboys in a column of Humvees to a designated area. The name of the ability? "Force Recon."
- Of course, Generation Kill's Marines weren't Force Recon, they were First Recon. There's a difference.
- One of the 360-exclusive Achievements is called Call of Booty for winning a battle with only Infantry.
- One possible callsign for American IFVs is Rosebud.
- Sphere of Destruction: WMDs behave like this. They don't harm anything outside their (admittedly huge) blast radius, but everything that is in range takes full damage, no matter whether they're at ground zero or at the edge.
- Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: As above. Can be subverted, either through superior numbers or through the timely application of a special ability. One of the notable examples of this are the Enforcers' Panther tanks: normally they're pretty much cannon fodder for enemy gunships, but once they get their special weapon upgrade they quickly turn into Goddamned Bats, being able to completely bring down enemy shields in one shot.
- Take Cover: Infantry out of cover or buildings are unlikely to survive long against other units, let alone effectively kill them. Once they are in cover, however...
- Tank Goodness: Look at the tanks. Look at them.
- The All-Seeing A.I.: The AI instantly knows if you have at least three units in WMD blast radius, no matter where those units are on the map and no matter whether the AI's units can see them or not. If you're not paying attention, an innocent move order to a gunship squad can result in half of your army getting instantly wiped out, followed by the AI's counterattack which can cost you the match.
- The Siege: One of the battle types is called Siege. One faction is defending its capital, but gets no off map support of any kind, including reinforcements. They must keep the attackers from capturing a critical Uplink for about 10 minutes until the cavalry arrives.
- That's No Moon!: Ever play on the "USS Reagan Seabase" map? Fly the camera around the map after the battle and you'll see that a third of the base you're fighting in isn't a base at all, but a ship. (That also happens to be taller than the nearby skyscrapers) They weren't kidding when they said, "We're launching the attack from a mobile offshore base."
- Theme Naming: Unit callsigns are all themed on something, varying from unit type to unit type and nation to nation. As an example, tank callsigns.
- American Tanks are violent acts or forces. (Thunder, Butcher, Grinder)
- Russian Tanks are beasts, some mythological. (Dragon, Mastodon, Rhino)
- European Tanks are famous mountains in Europe. (Aneto, Olympus, Untersberg)
- The Commonwealth of Nations: After leaving the EU, the UK and Ireland enacted reforms resulting in "The New Commonwealth," which was meant to be a sort of revived British Empire. They're technically neutral, though they've agreed to allow EF forces to be stationed in their countries to protect Uplink clusters.
- There Can Be Only One: Whoever wins, this is effectively the outcome of the war. Apparently, there's only room for one world superpower.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future
- United Europe: The EF, though it's mentioned that individual countries still exist within it. The UK, Ireland and Switzerland the pretty much only truly independent ones left, waiting it out before the fighting started.
- Video Game Caring Potential: Your units all have consistent names, consistent voices, and their experience carries over between missions, turning them into unholy terrors eventually. It's pretty hard not to get attached to them.
- Heavily damaged units will take on a Stop Poking Me attitude or outright panic. Ordering them to evacuate from the battlefield results in a response that's practically dripping of relief and thanks.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Some people get high from killing off units.
- There's also a case of What the Hell, Player? present. If you order units (mainly on the American and European sides) to kill incapacitated enemies, at least some will express reluctance if not outright disgust at the idea.
- The War to End All Wars: See the title.
- Weapon of Mass Destruction: What sometimes gets slung around late in a given match.
- The JSF gets a trio of satellite-launched kinetic rods dropped onto the target from space.
- The EF gets a laser satellite nailing the target (and anyone nearby) with pinpoint precision.
- The Spetznaz gets a good ol' cruise missile packing a fuel-air warhead.
- Western Terrorists: What attacks the US, EF, and, supposedly, Russia? A bunch of angry ex-soldiers from collapsed nations. Funded by Russia to get the EF and US to waste each other.
- World War III: Duh.
- Worst News Judgment Ever: After every battle in the WWIII campaign, there is a short news report. It NEVER mentions when any of the capitals are taken.
- Zerg Rush: Sending a bunch of gunships at your enemy at the beginning of a match can work pretty well, with their high movement speed allowing them to get to the opposing landing zone before they can move all of their units away - if your opponent is prepared to deal with them, you can just run away with said high movement speed with minimal casualties.
- Command And Conquer Economy: The only currency worth anything is Command Points, which slowly build over time and can also come from securing Uplinks.
- Construct Additional Pylons: As has been stated earlier, units are air-lifted from off map. Also, your mission type determines how many Reinforcements you have, and how many units you can have deployed at once. The closest you get to base building is by upgrading uplinks to provide access to army reinforcements, EMP blasts, and Air Strikes.
- Cosmetically Different Sides: Despite all three factions having the same units, there are subtle differences in their capabilities and upgrades.
- Critical Existence Failure: Units will lose troops or vehicles, and therefore firepower, when their health bar depletes. Units taken down to 25% health will send up a flare, disengage, and wait for evac.
- This also means that if a transport unit is carrying infantry, the squad inside transports that get destroyed will also die, and a transport unit missing vehicles will not be able to transport a full infantry squad.
- Defcon Five: WMDs become available at Defcon One.
- Hero Unit: Not present at all. The command vehicle might count, but it's really not good at all in combat; its really more Mission Control than anything else. Arguably, a Legendary unit might count, but they're still as much fodder as any other unit.
- Mnogo Nukes/Peace Through Superior Firepower: Due to the joint missile shield, no one can launch ICBMs. This just means that they have to get creative with their WMDs.
- Obvious Beta: Double-subverted. About a month before the game's release, Ubisoft released a public beta of the game.
- Ridiculously Fast Construction: You don't build stuff. Units are flown in from off-map via the same transport helicopters that evacuate them.
- Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: Yeah, those WMDs will kill ANYTHING. A full health-shield Command Vehicle at ground zero is just about the only thing that will survive.
- It should be noted that units being 'killed' in the game are Lost Forever, which doesn't always happen with your units being hit by a WMD, but it will make them incapable of fighting.
- Just watch where you point those things, because they will destroy YOUR units just as easily as the Enemy's.
- Units Not to Scale: Everything except a few of the vehicles (dropped by a ginormous multi-rotor chopper) are.