Like the original game, Empire Earth II will be an epic-scale real-time strategy game covering a wide span of history, this time from 10,000 BC to AD 2230.
The game begins in the Stone Age and continues through to a relatively distant future dominated by giant robots. (Empire Earth II will actually tie into another Vivendi-licensed game by incorporating the robots from the Earthsiege games.) There will be 15 civilizations in the game, including German, English, American, Greek, Babylonian, Incan, Turkish, and Aztec. To differentiate the civilizations and to add some personality into the game, each nation will have its own architecture and music. More importantly, each will have distinct bonuses and advantages that are native to them. The Turks, for instance, have a wall bonus that lets them construct walls faster and cheaper. In addition, each civilization will have three unique military units that only it can build.
There will be several different ways to play the game. First, there’s the traditional epic campaign, which requires you to start from the Stone Age and progress through all 15 epochs until you reach the end. This campaign can take quite a while, so Mad Doc is also including three shorter campaigns, each focusing on a different era in history. There’s an ancient Korean campaign, a Middle Ages German campaign, and a modern American campaign. All told, those three campaigns will weigh in at a little more than 30 missions, and they’ll feature what are called “turning point missions,” which are important battles in history upon which the future is hinged. Then there’s the skirmish mode, which will allow you to play against up to nine other players. Skirmish will let you modify the various game settings, so you can restrict the game to a single epoch, or to the first three epochs, and so on. Mad Doc is looking to both simplify and make the gameplay more intuitive, while at the same time adding new concepts and features into the real-time strategy formula. To this extent, the game will come with a fairly simplified tech tree that will make it easy to keep track of your scientific progress.
Another new concept in Empire Earth II is territories. Each map will be divided into distinct territories that you will have to seize and secure. This means that you can quickly gauge who’s winning simply by looking at the minimap and seeing who has the most territory. But territories will also play an important role in the strategy of the game. In order to access resources on a territory, you have to control it, and more importantly, the number of territories that you possess will determine your population cap. So the more territories you possess, the more units you can build. In addition, there are certain buildings that you can construct to speed up your research, such as temples and universities, but those are limited to one of each per territory. To get ahead, you’ll need multiple territories with well-developed cities in them, so it will be important to control and defend as much territory as possible. In order to seize a territory adjacent to one of your existing territories, you need to build a city center in it. To seize a territory that’s not connected to your existing territories, you must create a city center and a fortress.
In addition, significant focus has been placed on casual gamers who often become frustrated by difficult and arcane videogame features. Empire Earth II’s citizen manager system simplifies the player’s job of assigning citizens to movement and harvesting tasks. A new, more intelligent formation system will offer attack bonuses, allow for easier navigation across maps, and reduce the occurrence of “furball combat,” an unfortunately common and confusing real-time strategy game element that can frustrate gamers. And the game’s streamlined research system better mimics the actual development of technology and alleviates the need to micro-manage the game during heated combat.
Empire Earth II’s multiplayer features will be no less revolutionary. The game’s new Crown System will provide temporary, but potent, rewards for players who demonstrate excellent military, economic, imperialistic, or cultural ability. A war planning screen will help teammates coordinate their efforts by allowing them to use a map of the world to diagram troop movements. Multiplayer competition will feature nine different game types, including new additions to the series such as “Hot Spots,” which forces gamers to capture and hold positions of strategic importance. Lastly, Empire Earth II will include popular player-requested features like recorded games, improved tournament support, multiplayer co-operative scenarios, and advanced statistics reporting.