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.