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No more base building

No more base buildingSome might say that RTS games are all about base building, which some recently released games have proven not to be true. Take Endwar, Dawn of War 2 and World in Conflict for instance; none of them incorporate base building, but all of them are solid games. Does this mean that base building is an antiquated concept that will not be missed?

Endwar has got voice commands and some light micro managing. The army size is relatively small and units move in squads to keep this console title manageable. The player is constantly cycling through different units on different locations of the map. Since there is no base to check up on and the player views the battlefield from a third person perspective through his units, this gives the game a very mobile feeling. Depending on the amount of control you have over the battlefield, more units can be dropped at a specified location. Lost units can be replaced after a certain amount of time.

In Dawn of War 2 the player has got only 4 squads under his command. Directional and destructible cover keep the player on his toes. Micromanaging the various abilities also requires the player to be aware of his squads at all time. A typical mission takes about 14 minutes to complete, which stands in stark contrast to the typical RTS map that can take more than an hour. Units cannot be build in the single player campaign but are selected and outfitted for each mission. Lost units can be reinforced at specific locations and healed in various ways.

World in Conflict gives the player command over a reasonably sized army. Units move in squads and some have an ability that can be activated. The general combat procedures are comparable to a typical RTS, but since the player has no base to defend or units to build, the game has got a distinctly different feeling to it. Missions will have you move around from one objective to the next; completing various tasks. Additional units can be acquired through mission triggers and some units can be dropped into the battlefield.

In the titles mentioned above the focus of the gameplay has been shifted heavily towards strategically commanding troops, and away from the mechanics of unit production. With the exclusion of the moment to moment decisions that a base requires, these games ask for a different approach, from designer and player alike.

While I never missed base building in these games, I do not think it is an aspect that will disappear entirely. The building and managing of a base is far to addictive to be discarded completely, and interesting enough to be the primary focus of a game. I am convinced that shifting the core gameplay in that direction may yield results that are just as refreshing to the genre as the games mentioned above.

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