You know what we need more of? Real-time strategy games. We always need more real-time strategy games. I’m not being facetious; I’m being honest. There was a time when the RTS genre was the thing, but now that thing seems to be first-person shooters. That makes my inner, armchair general depressed and sad and a little grumpy. Maybe even grumpy enough to want to reinstall Emperor: Battle for Dune. Then I saw this game called Etherium.
Etherium is being developed by Tindalos Interactive – the same team behind 2011’s Stellar Impact, which is an online science-fiction RTS game. Perhaps you played it? I most certainly did not but a quick Google search seemed to indicate that it was somewhat influenced by Homeworld.
In Etherium, the focus will be on a non-linear single player campaign. Set in a futuristic universe, you’ll take control of one of three factions that are fighting each other for a valuable resource known as, you guessed it, etherium. This resource is only found on one planet, so you’ll predominantly be fighting on this planet and its surrounding moons. Did I mention that, judging by the trailer, this planet is a desert planet? Oh, that is very Dune of you, Tindalos, and I’m listening intently.
According to the game’s first info dump, you will have to “manage your resources, expand your colonies and extend your control of the map to assemble an army capable of crushing your opponents.” That screams 90s RTS mechanics, and I’m fine with that. Sticking with 90s traditions, there’ll be a tech tree you’ll need to advance through by funding and conducting scientific research. Nothing new in the core mechanics department, but sometimes I just want to play a traditional RTS without all that pesky innovation clouding my genre nostalgia.
The three empires, which currently remain nameless, each possess a specialisation that gives them an edge over rival factions. One empire is capable of controlling the weather, which means they could create a localised sand storm around the enemy base in order to approach unseen. Another of the empires specialises in espionage, and the last one can see into the future. Not sure how that last skill will be implemented in a dynamic single-player campaign, but it’s certainly interesting. On top of the three main empires there are six smaller factions that will be found throughout the game. Those factions will hinder your progress or present unique alliances that grant you access to special units. There’s that Emperor: Battle for Dune peeking in again.
While the trailer shows mostly arid environments, we can expect quite a varied collection in the final game. Tindalos has promised jungles, island networks, frozen tundra and swamps.
Insofar as units are concerned, the usual suspects are there: tanks, infantry, naval vessels, airborne units and giant mechanical war machines that Tindalos is calling “colossi of war”.
Etherium is coming to PC in June 2014. There’s a very limited website with some screenshots to check out in the source link below. There are some very quiet forums attached to the site as well, but you’ll find the info dumps in there.
Despite knowing very little about Tindalos, I’m cautiously optimistic about this one. It’s good old fashioned RTS gaming – and I’ve been craving that for some time now.