Trion Worlds’ Rift massively multiplayer online game is barely out the door, having shipped in March. But the Redwood City, Calif.-based online game publisher is already showing off the polished game play of its second major online game, End of Nations.

For fans of this genre, Trion is promising massive battles where online players can team up by the dozens in intense combat sessions. If the game is a success, Trion could find itself in the rare position of being able to charge a monthly subscription for a perpetual game. This kind of game is extremely expensive to produce, and Trion has raised more than $100 million to build multiple MMOs at the same time. This one is being built for Trion by Las Vegas-based Petroglyph Studios. I recently got a chance to see it up close and play for an entire round of combat.

End of Nations is a real-time strategy game for the PC. It is set in a sci-fi universe that is a full-fledged persistent online world. You have a bird’s-eye view of the battle and can control your battalions individually or in groups. The battle unfolds in real time, where you make your move at the same time as your enemy and the action plays out in front of your eyes. As you can see from the images, the graphics are pretty and very detailed.

The big thing you can see from these battles is the large scale that has never been done before with online-based real-time strategy games. Trion has figured out how to create pretty 3D graphics and make them scale to dozens of units fighting on a detailed battlefield. That’s not easy to do, raising a question of whether you need a really hefty computer to play this game. (They haven’t set the required computer specifications yet.)

But computing power aside, the game manages to immerse you in a giant battle. In our demo, I teamed up with three other players to take on the computer-controlled player, which was protecting a base of gargantuan proportions. There was so much action and so many details to pay attention to that it was hard for me to follow it all at first. You can activate all of your units with a single click or move a single unit.

The dashboard tells you which units are down and need repair or have to be respawned. When the units respawn, you have to move them back to the front line where the action is, since the game is all about amassing as much firepower in a critical location as you can. You also have to coordinate with your team to get the right kind of units — artillery, tanks, aircraft — attacking in the right fashion. My team didn’t really cooperate, but we managed to get pretty far in taking down pieces of the enemy’s fortress in this “player vs environment” battle. Time ran out before we could make much of a real assault, though.

You can play the game solo, but Trion says that as many as 50 players will be able to play the game at once in epic conflicts. That will be a sight to see. It may seem chaotic, but that fits in with the story of the game. In the 21st century, the world economy has collapsed and a single superpower, the Order of Nations, has emerged to restore order by force. Revolutionaries can’t stomach the tyranny of the order and have launched rebellions against the totalitarian enemy on a global scale. Players can log into the game, fight battles, customize their armies, and rise through the ranks over time.

The game is expected to debut sometime this year.

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