War Selection is an Age of Empires-style RTS with evolving factions, a multiplayer focus and a terrible name. It's out today in Early Access. It's free to play but, unusually, also comes with an optional subscription.
I'm trying to think of any other subscription-based PC RTS games and I'm drawing a blank. Paying will net players new technologies they can use in each era, but they'll only be available in subscriber-only matches, along with a few other benefits. Hmmm.
It's got me intrigued, though! The era system is more Rise of Nations than Age of Empires, letting you nurture one faction across human history, but that faction doesn't start off as a nation—you've got thousands of years to reach that point.
Everyone starts in the Stone Age as a simple tribe, but as you progress through the eras you'll be able to form your tribe's identity. During the Bronze Age, you can pick between migrating to Europe or Asia, opening up new paths that, eventually, lead to you picking a nation after the Industrial Revolution.
Amplitude's upcoming 4X, Humankind, is taking a similar approach, where you pick a new empire with every historical era, growing a list of bonuses and quirks with each new addition. Both systems seem a bit more true to history than playing these huge, monolithic empires for thousands of years, and I do like the idea of thinking of civilisations as these things that can be stacked on top of each other like a historical loadout.
Along with sandbox, free-for-all and horde modes, there's a 62-player Armageddon mode that sounds a little bit like an RTS spin on the battle royale formula. It's not a straightforward adaptation, thank god, instead thrusting players into conflict by forcing them to constantly expand their borders. The smallest nations will start being bombarded by meteors, so everyone needs to outrun death by swallowing up more and more territory.
War Selection is out now on Steam.