Planetary Annihilation is the spiritual successor to the Supreme Commander series; with many of game’s structural elements emulating its predecessor. Its grandiose description on Uber Entertainment website is as follows “RTS for the next generation – Colonise solar systems, smash entire worlds, and obliterate your foes in epic battles with multiple players and potentially thousands of units. Planetary Annihilation is a next generation RTS that takes the genre to a planetary scale.”
The above sounds amazing, so with the new Galactic War update and price reduction on Steam we thought we would give it a look.
Within the battles the gameplay is similar to the Supreme Commander series. You start with your commander unit, (which has a few cosmetic variants, some of which can be purchased), who then goes on to build your resource and unit creation buildings. The resource system is the same as well, with only the two to worry about, metal and energy. In their video tutorial it was called “streaming economy”, which is apt as when buildings or units are created it siphons some of your metal/energy towards its construction. If you do not have enough to build it at peak efficiency it will still slowly be built. You create your units (including more builders) from the various factories. With the possible factories including bots (fast land units), vehicles (heavier land units), Air (planes and things) and Naval (Boats).
Where this game differs from Supreme Commander is that the map is on a planet and you can launch onto other planets within the system you are in. It is also at a much faster pace than Supreme Commander 2, which at times was incredibly slow. Although in our playthrough there was no need to attack and acquire other planets it is an intriguing concept. One that adds a new level of depth to this style of RTS and an increased difficulty that hopefully does not spiral out of control. It was slightly overwhelming at first with so much going on (and having an allied commander confusing me at the beginning), despite the tutorial video and my experience with Supreme Commander. If I did have to think about my base on two different planets it would have probably been my downfall. However, due to the Sub-Commander Tech acquired in the Galactic War galaxy map stage, I was able to muddle along whilst they did the brunt of the work.
What is this “Galactic War”? It is the new single player experience Uber Entertainment have recently released. You start by selecting your commander, (purely cosmetic to the best of my knowledge) and the loadout you wish them to have. The loadout I used was the basic vehicle option as all the others are apparently unlocked through playing. The next part is a galaxy map which gives you new systems to move to. Once there you scan the system for new technology (referred to in game as tech), which is either freely given or held by an opposing commander. The enemy has to be defeated to acquire the tech they are holding. These techs vary from a helpful sub-commander, who plays with you when you attack enemy planets, to increased armour for your various units.
Another interesting mechanic is the System Creator which allows you to make and customise your own systems and planets. Not something I’m particularly interested in, but I’m sure some people will labour for hours creating the perfect systems, or ones which reflect those already in existence within our own galaxy. The amount of variants for the planets is impressive, with velocity, mass, amount of resources, the number of engines (which can move planets) amongst a huge wealth of other options.
The game is visually impressive and the art style works well with its theme of planetary destruction. It helps enhance the gameplay elements and it will be interesting to see what the next big update for the game will be.