Enemy Territory is probably the best multiplayer game of the past five years. Though it faced strong challenges from the Battlefield series, Joint Ops, Call of Duty and more, it delivered a unique gameplay experience that has consistently kept it near the top of the GameSpy stats page. Where other games have waxed and waned, hit peaks and then slid low, Enemy Territory stubbornly clings to its position with a tenacity unseen outside of Counter-Strike. Though it’s a free download, it offered professional quality gameplay on six extensive maps, with a host of new features like class levels and story-based missions.
Its successor, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, is based in the Quake 2/Quake 4 universe and takes place before either game, during the Strogg invasion of Earth. It’s set about 60 years into the future, so human weapons are still recognizably based on what we have in the real world. The Strogg are obviously alien in origin and their weapons and even health work differently, but we saw “Quake” weapons like the lightning gun and hyperblaster in action. Enemy Territory will be purely multiplayer.
The developers, Splash Damage, currently have 12 maps they think will make it into the final game, and mentioned that they cut 10 other designs they weren’t happy with at some point in the past year. Normally I’d be inclined to be critical of so few maps, but the original six maps for ET are still the most popular ones for the game and again, judging by the GameSpy numbers, nobody seems to be tiring of them. As most readers of FiringSquad can attest, communities rapidly learn to cull unpopular maps from servers. Hopefully Splash Damage’s goal to make the most promising map designs their focus will result in more, better maps than a large but haphazard collection. As with Enemy Territory, the plan is to have three maps per ‘campaign’, after which the rank and abilities a player gains for his character classes are reset and he’ll start with basic capabilities again.
In what is a radical departure from the original design, Quake Wars will not have teams with identical classes and weapons. Enemy Territory had both the Germans and Allies running around with the same classes, but Quake Wars will only have “class equivalents”, with different weapons and different ways of doing things. The human Engineer still repairs things by running up to them with a wrench in hand; the Strogg equivalent, the Constructor, launches a repair drone who does the job for him. Each method has its advantages and drawbacks. The human is vulnerable and pre-occupied, unable to defend himself. The Strogg can defend himself and his drone, but if his drone is destroyed, that’s game over for him until he respawns to get another one. On the other hand, an Engineer doesn’t have to worry about being left without his key feature unless he dies.