There I was, idly clicking links in search of post-worthy news, and I stumble across Battleforge. "Collectable card game-based RTS?", I think. "That's either some half-mad Russian thing, potentially an out-of-the-blue triumph like Armageddon Empires, or another low-budget curio like Saga Online." Then I thought about how my hand hurt as a result of brushing against a two foot-tall stinging nettle during a futile attempt to mow my monstrously unkempt garden, and I stopped paying attention for a little while. When I eventually tuned back in, I was surprised by two things.
Thing the first: that looks brilliant. Thing the second: wait... was that an EA logo?
It was indeed. See?
Here are some reasons why Battleforge is dead interesting:
1) Phenomic, the EA studio behind it, is headed up by Volker Wertich, who created The Settlers. And, er, Spellforce.
2) It's online only - and persistent online at that, with a whole bunch of community stuff thrown into to help ensure Battleforge is a game folk live in, rather than merely play. There's a vague sense that a great deal of RTSdom is gearing up for a major change in this kind of direction - applying MMO values to an army rather than a single character.
3) Bloody hell: just look at those big bastards ripping through hordes of little bastards.
Like Saga (my review of which is in the latest PC Gamer UK, and if I plug them here then perhaps they'll give me something better to review than Dirty Dancing: The Game next issue), armies are based on trading cards - what's on your cards is what's in your army, and presumably the bartering and collection behind this is a big part of Battleforge's onlineiness.
Clearly, it could yet be a confusing mess of hardcore RTS brutality, rewarding the insanely dedicated while leaving casual players in the cold - but, quite frankly, the EA backing does at least mean it's likely to punch a few weights above the average fantasy-RTS-with-a-twist. Definitely looking forward to hearing more about this one. If only because Big Guy Versus Lots of Little Guys is one of those enduring game images I can never quite get enough of.
I haven't actually seen Battleforge myself, to my chagrin - but Bit-tech's Joe Martin (who you may have spotted popping into RPS comments on occasion) has, and he's written all about it, replete with a meaty Wertich interview (who makes bold pronouncements "such as I think our approach of going online only is really going to change the market") right here.