Get another dose of portable combat in this exclusive clip of Days of Ruin.
Over the last two days, we've been digging deep into Nintendo's upcoming turn-based strategy sequel, Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, with looks at the game's new aesthetics and darker storyline and the tweaks and additions to gameplay that longtime series developer Intelligent Systems has made. Now we're back to look at what we're sure will be the most exciting new feature for diehard Advance Wars fans: online play. Of course, there's a full interface for the editing and trading of maps here too, and those two features together will likely keep the most committed fans battling in this game for months or years on end.
Naturally, Days of Ruin has a local versus mode in which you can go head-to-head against someone in the same physical location--but hey, plenty of DS games have that. However, now you can also jump onto the Internet (via Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection service) and battle for military dominance against other players anywhere in the world. When you select the WFC multiplayer option, you'll be presented with choices between "worldwide" and "friends." Selecting the worldwide option will randomly match you up with another player who's currently looking for a match, and before you start the search, you can specify whether you want to be matched up with players similar to your skill level, or with the first player available.
The combat can get pretty thick in the online multiplayer.
As per the Nintendo standard, you can only play with people you know by trading 12-digit friend codes with them, though once you've saved a friend to your list, it's a simple matter of looking to see which of your friends has an open game, and joining it. There's no communicating with other players in random matches, but we were delightfully surprised to find voice chat support in friend matches. Chatting with your opponent is as simple as holding down the Y button and speaking into the DS's microphone. We were able to speak in a normal conversational tone without putting our face right up on the DS and still be easily heard by our opponent. Other than a couple of small hitches, the audio quality of the voice was quite good and made for a perfectly suitable method of communication before and during a match.
From what we could tell, random matches will dump you into a random map, but when you're setting up a friend match, you've got tons of customization options. In addition to map choice, you can control the type of terrain and weather conditions (which can have relevant gameplay effects), the amount of starting money and the amount of income you'll get from cities, the number of turns the match will last, and so on. There's even a random weather option that literally changes the weather with each turn, so you never know what extra obstacle you'll have to contend with. We played one multiplayer match in which it seemed like we kept getting hit with snow every other turn, which severely limited our units' movement range and prevented us from capturing some key cities, ultimately costing us the match.
In case you get tired of the included maps, you can just make your own.
Once you tire of the numerous included maps, there's a full stylus-driven map editor in here that lets you create a map to your specifications. You can paint the map with specific kinds of terrain and obstacles, add units where you want, and even change the colors of your commanding officers. After you complete a map that conforms to certain requirements--it can't be more than 10x10 in size, and you have to have completed it yourself, for instance--you can upload it to the game's map center, where it will be categorized and added to the map rotation. When you get the itch for a new battlefield, you can select "random map" to have the map center send you any old map, or you can also browse recommended maps to receive the highest-rated ones only. Of course, you can trade maps with your friends directly if you have their friend codes.
Days of Ruin is looking like a hefty package for serious Advance Wars fans, with a lengthy and often challenging campaign, a makeover that offers something other than the norm (at least for this series), and multiplayer battles that ought to give the game's longevity a massive boost. The game is due to ship early next week, so come back for a full review then.