AMD’s Mantle could make RTS games awesome again

2 min read

I’m not a complete pillock you know. When my head is struck with blunt force hard enough, my cultured and more civilised side comes out, resulting in a switch of genre preferences that has me favour real-time strategy over brutish first-person shooter games. And Mantle tech might make that genre a firm favourite again.

Making DirectX and OpenGL feel more antiquated with each and every passing day, the new API from AMD and DICE is already looking pretty, purdy and gorgeous for those of you with powerful enough rigs and massive levels of patience playing Battlefield 4.

And now Oxide games has been tinkering away with that technology, resulting in a new game engine built specifically for real-time strategy titles. And the results look staggering. Dubbed the Nitrous engine, it can handle up to 5000 AI/Physics-driven objects on the screen at any given time, simeltaneously.

“Take the most complex scene you’ve ever seen in StarCraft II and multiply it by 10,” Oxide founder Dan Baker said to Engadget. Don’t believe them? Here’s a proof of concept for Star Swarm, which shows the engine in action.

And that engine has already been contracted out, with three upcoming strategy games making use of it according to the video. I’ve always felt that the one thing missing from strategy games these days was scale. We’ve pretty much reached the ceiling of gameplay for RTS titles already, and while games like the Total War series have thrown hundreds of characters onscreen, the visuals have still left a lot to be desired.

But games that make me feel like I truly am sending in wave after wave of men to die, thousands at a time? That’s the kind of game that I want to play, that makes my foolproof technique of throwing as many troops as possible at a player until they run out of ammo or hit their automatic kill limit.  And then I can finally move my digital brandy cabinet five feet closer to the front.

Last Updated: January 15, 2014

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