Millions Clash In We Are Legion’s Enormous Battles

Take a look at that screenshot above. Now take a look at this one. It’s a fine summary of We Are Legion’s most appealing quality and that quality is quantity. The image might look like somebody tried to draw a ruptured pancreas in MS Paint and gave up half-way through, but it’s actually a bird-eye view of a battlefield. Each individual speck that makes up the swathes of colour is a unit and, as you’ll see in the video below, watching them move and clash in their millions is like watching liquids flowing, rippling and attempting to cover the world.

This is war without the unit cap. Developers Pwnee have this to say:

Ancient China, 220 AD. China is in disarray and within years the population plummets from 60 million to less than 20 million. Massive war involving millions of men devastates the land. When General Huangfu Song 義真 was asked how he got around the unit caps to build such massive armies, he replied “小馬是世界上最好的開發商” which in the barbarian tongue of English means roughly, “What the %$#^ are unit caps, this is war!”

Forget about micro. Forget about build orders. This war is about one thing. Ridiculous, uncompromising, seething masses of blood hungry warriors massacring each other by the hundreds every second.

There is no unit cap. Control armies of hundreds of thousands, even millions. Send orders to a single unit, or send orders to a million units. Frantically maintain control of your resources across epic sized maps, while constantly building out your fleet of barracks to churn out millions of more units.

I wasn’t at all convinced by the first few seconds of the trailer but as soon as the view pulled back to show the battle from afar, the appeal was clear. At this scale, with this single-minded behaviour, armies become entities, great creatures that envelope, consume and fragment anything that stands in their way. If a well-directed strike severs a part of the beast, it becomes a separate liquid entity, and the barracks are the faucets adding to the flow.

The battles seem to work out a little like the ones in 10 Minute Barbarian. Except with millions of units instead of a hundred. It’s possible that the need to drop barracks and explosions across the battlefield will become tiring, or that the emphasis on scale will overwhelm everything else. I didn’t even realise units could be given orders at first – I thought the player’s role was to decide where they spawned and then to watch as the battle happened.

I’ve had a quick play this morning (the game is out on the 7th of this month) but as there’s nobody online to play against yet and only the training map seems to have any kind of computer-controlled opponent (in the form of static armies to kill), I can’t really say how a battle might play out. There’s an initial rush to claim jade mines (for magic) and gold mines (for barracks that produce units), and I reckon every scenario will play out quickly and brutally. I’ll see if I can test out a few multiplayer scraps next week.

29 Comments

    • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

      Oh no! Not another game that’s a bit like another game! We’d better get the genre police on it, this is truly unforgivabru!!

      • SomeDuder says:

        Did you know, did you KNOW, how TERRRIRIAIRIAIRIAAAA totally ripped off, TOTALLY RIPPED I SAY, Minecraft? Because they both feature blocks, you see!

        Oh, the outrage! The delicious OUTRAGE! Never before have I posted with such enormous rushes of outrage about videogames on a website about ethics in videogames “journalism”!

        • Unclepauly says:

          The medicine is in the medicine cabinet.. Which is in the bathroom.. second door on the left down the hallway..

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        FhnuZoag says:

        I think it’s a bit negative to characterise such comments simply as a criticism, though you certainly can see it that way. Referring to games in terms of other games that exist can help inform opinions, suggest pitfalls, and make concrete what this game adds. Also it lets people recommend other similar games people liked.

        Liquid war is fun, btw, though strategically rather shallow. This game seems to introduce a more traditional control scheme to what Liquid war does, and some more tools, but we’ll see if it works.

        • LionsPhil says:

          That’s the Internet for you.

          • plsgodontvisitheforums_ says:

            As you get more adept at using it, you will find that you can guide reactions to your comments by adding different more or different characters. Neat!

          • vlonk says:

            LionsPhil you are a magician today.
            As Babylon 5’s cheesy Technomage told us about the secrets of the universe there are 14 words to make someone fall in love with you forever and 7 words to make them go away without pain but you today uncovered the 4 words (+link) to invoke unspeakable horrors into the commentary thread. ‘Tis is powerful stuff.

          • bonuswavepilot says:

            Apropos of nothing in particular, that reminds me of that phrase from Valis:
            “There exists, for everyone, a sentence – a series of words – that has the power to destroy you.”

        • waltC says:

          It’s “Micro-War Attack of the Germ Kings” all over again…! I must be in Hades! The sheer strategic joy of watching swarms of tiny things attack each other on the surface of my pancreas is an experience to be expelled rapidly from the stomach via the most energetic of involuntary gastric contractions!

  1. Talahar says:

    Gosh darn it, I was playing around with similar mechanisms trying to make them into a game.
    Oh well, onto the next prototype, I guess.

    • tnzk says:

      Trust me on this one, you’ll never, ever, ever have an original idea. Ever.

      I’m not going to presume that you are a newbie or amateur to the entertainment business, but incidentally newbies and amateurs think doing something different will net them glory, honour, and profit. No, it only leads friends and family to go “what the fuck is that?”

      Besides, if you got to move onto your next “prototype”, you never had a prototype to begin with. You had an idea, and never developed it beyond the idea stage. I reckon there’s something to be mined with “ridiculously huge RTS game” fetish genre, which I’m not quite sure this game looks successful in extracting. Who knows, that person could be you?

      To put it in perspective, did Mark Zuckberg move onto the next thing when Myspace blew up big? It’s literally just about doing the same thing better.

      #gururantover

  2. TWChristine says:

    One million troops!! Wooow!

  3. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    My eyes hurt now.

  4. vlonk says:

    Harsh commentating today people. Chillax : )

    In other news: This could be fun or this could be an endless grind fest. Since there is no techpath or rock-paper-scissors army composition (shown?) it is running the danger of playing like a game of risk, which we probably all know to regularly deteriorate into a slog to incrementally edge out your initial advantage.

    Maybe the trailer was just fuzzy about its game mechanisms.

    Are there any comeback mechanisms I overlooked in the trailer? Are those raised skeletons player controlled or do they attack the nearest player force? That could be a nice way to generate area denial by landmining former battlefields.

    • KDR_11k says:

      I don’t even see any way to make your units trade better than 1:1 outside of those magic nukes (which ARE the micromanagement that the devs claim to not have). That means the game becomes a “who has more units” competition which is based on the number of barracks you have. So it’s either a mad rush for resources at the start and then a sloooow grind to make those resources count or it’s gonna be a macro-nightmare of keeping a close eye on when to place your rax and manually rebuild all the things you’ve lost.

      I guess the easiest test would be to see if you can write a simple AI that plays the game and is difficult (or even impossible) to beat just by using its powers of instant clicking. Then you’d know you have a dumb game.

      I’ve tried making mods with playstyles like this and I’m not alone. It usually ends badly for the above reasons. It’s best to learn from traditional RTSes and understand why they use their rules before trying to break them. When you make your game all macro you don’t make a game about watching huge battles, you make a game about efficiently building up your economy and faffing about in your base all the time while the fighting is on autopilot.

      • vlonk says:

        Those are my fears exactly. “Risk” ist not good game design. But maybe those skeletons are landmines and then you actually have strategic decisions to make… do you sacrifice a part of your army to create opportunity to raise skeletons? This weakens your front/army/attack power, but it creates a strong incentive for your neighbour to look elsewhere because he has essentially to kill your army twice. At the same time it limits your own options and locks your own possibilities on the map. That could be a nice strategic trade-off. Is it worth the time to run around those dumb skeletons? Can you supply your front with soldiers walking a longer distance or can a player capitalize on your bottleneck and cut you off with a big bomb push? Can you bring the heat to the enemies base and then raise havoc by raising zombies on top of their rax farm? Hmm.. have to play SC2 “imba league zombies” again I guess

    • Joshua Northey says:

      It honestly does not take a lot for 4player Fifa matches to be compelling because all the drama and variation comes from player behavior of they are good. Game could badly use some terrain though to give it some semblance of character and strategic decision making. Worse results when going uphill or bridges or other chomp pints et cetera.

  5. Detocroix says:

    Seems really interesting. I don’t like the humor, but as a mechanic it seems neat. I wish they had put a bit more time to the art though, it looks extremely plain as it is.

  6. Shazbut says:

    Is “millions” really accurate? Like you can have at least two million individual units under your command? I’m not sure how this would make sense on any playable level. I fear it would devolve into something really simplistic like, “send half your army over here” or something, in which case you might as well have two units not two million.

    Still, will wait and see.

  7. Philopoemen says:

    The grognard in me wonders how many donkeys I would need to carry all the rice to feed those men, and how I would protect said donkeys.

    Ah, logistics.

  8. Behrditz says:

    Oh man, that 4 direction synchronized movement is really messing with my eyes on some of those scale levels.