Sanctuary: Shattered Sun, an upcoming real-time strategy game, aspires to capture the epic scale, intensity, and grandeur reminiscent of the legendary Supreme Commander series. Developed by Enhearten Media, a dedicated independent studio comprised of seasoned RTS developers, this ambitious project seeks to rekindle the magic of those revered classics while introducing fresh innovations to the RTS genre.
Initial previews exhibit immense promise, with Sanctuary taking the core elements of Supreme Commander’s thrilling strategic gameplay and transforming them into something contemporary and exciting. If the final product lives up to expectations, it could usher in the next phase of large-scale RTS gaming. Let’s delve into what sets Sanctuary apart.
A Planet-Sized Battlefield
Sanctuary unfolds within a mind-bogglingly massive Dyson Sphere megastructure, constructed by humanity to harness the power of the sun. This colossal star-encasing structure offers unparalleled scale, with battlefields spanning dozens of kilometers across the artificial surface of the sphere.
To put this in perspective, maps in Supreme Commander could reach up to 80 square kilometers to a side. Sanctuary’s scale means that even maps half this size will offer the same gameplay experience, making smaller units appear twice as prominent. Players can seamlessly transition from an intimate view of individual units to a god-like view of the entire battlefield.
The battlefield itself introduces unique strategic considerations. Frozen seas can be traversed by tanks, opening up previously inaccessible areas. Bridges span chasms and can be destroyed to block enemy movements. Formidable game-changing weapons reshape the environment, creating obstacles and compelling players to adapt their tactics on the fly.
The sphere houses over a trillion human lives, divided among various factions vying for control. Tensions between the post-humanoid Chosen, the disenfranchised masses of the Earth Defence Alliance, and the sphere’s robotic Guard have erupted into all-out war. Their struggle for dominance unfolds across Sanctuary’s blend of high-tech cities, idyllic nature preserves, and war-torn wastelands.
This expansive and visually diverse battlefield harmonizes perfectly with Sanctuary’s theme of civilization-spanning warfare. Battles span multiple biomes, testing a player’s ability to adapt strategies and supply chains across vast distances. Maneuvering across different terrain types adds an extra layer of complexity.
Three Unique Factions
In Sanctuary: Shattered Sun, players can align with one of three factions vying for control of the Dyson Sphere: the EDA, the Chosen, or the Guard. Each faction employs distinct strategies, weaponry, and forces, all united by the common goal of becoming the ultimate power within the solar system:
The Earth Defence Alliance (EDA): The EDA is a coalition dedicated to safeguarding humanity’s interests and the autonomy of its people. Formed in response to ongoing corruption, economic disparities, and the need for unity, the EDA has emerged as the dominant governing force, fiercely opposing the Chosen faction. Some view them as domineering zealots, while others see them as humanity’s sole beacon of hope.
The EDA prioritizes efficiency over ornate strategies, utilizing vast human populations and abundant resources to command formidable power. Embracing a doctrine of swift and overwhelming impact, the EDA is known for obliterating opposition with a range of devastating weaponry. Their ruthlessness matches their dependability, and their top Commanders employ guerrilla tactics, skillfully blending stealth technology and robust armor to deliver unexpected blows.
The Chosen: The Chosen are a society of Post-Humans who have transcended their physical forms to inhabit machines. Viewing themselves as the next phase in human evolution, their heightened intellect is combined with impeccable aesthetic sensibility. From their vast super-computer networks, the Chosen orchestrate warfare, leading legions of elegant yet lethal robotic forces.
The Chosen represent the pinnacle of technological advancement among the three factions, employing streamlined designs and personal shielding to swiftly approach and annihilate adversaries with an exotic arsenal of energy weaponry. While their war apparatus boasts specialization, it demands substantial investment. Commitment to excellence over sheer quantity requires astute management of fewer units for heightened impact. Each Sentinel houses the consciousness of an individual from the Chosen, making their preservation of paramount importance.
The Guard: The Guard are the custodians of Sanctuary, once its architects and now its sentinels. Their warfare revolves around a singular objective: quelling rival factions and safeguarding the Dyson Sphere from further harm. Remodeled and fortified, the Guard stand as an unfeeling and strategic mechanized force, resolute in their determination to preserve their creation through any means necessary.
With unrivaled knowledge of Sanctuary, the Guard possess unparalleled intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities, allowing them to meticulously select the optimal time and place to engage their adversaries. While lacking the intricate designs seen in EDA military technology or the advanced shielding employed by the Chosen, the Guard predominantly rely on vast numbers of near-disposable drone vehicles, supplemented by a smaller contingent of unorthodox specialized units and potent Experimental assets. Proficient Guard Sentinels adeptly maintain ceaseless pressure on their foes, biding their time until their opponents weaken, ultimately delivering the decisive, concluding strike.
Simulation-Driven Large Scale Combat
In contrast to many RTS games where combat is resolved abstractly through hit point mechanics, Sanctuary introduces real-time ballistic and beam weapon simulations. Projectiles are visible as they traverse the battlefield and can be evaded. Direct hits carry more weight than steadily depleting hit points, creating a more immersive and authentic combat experience.
The developers promise that this approach will result in chaotic and intense clashes, with thousands of projectiles crisscrossing the battlefield. Expert players will need to master movement and positioning to avoid devastating barrages. The survivability of individual units will depend heavily on proper use of cover and line of sight, enabling ambushes and flanking maneuvers during the heat of battle.
When combined with thousands of units engaged in warfare across kilometers of terrain, players must vigilantly monitor multiple skirmishes across the sphere. Victory will favor those who can best manage their forces on a truly grand scale.
Strategic Scale Meets Tactical Gameplay
Players will have the capacity to field armies of up to 10,000 units across ground, air, and naval theaters. For perspective, even with 200-unit armies, the scale of the epic clashes exceeds what is typically seen in most games. Units range from colossal experimental war machines to swarms of agile fighters. The game’s design revolves around commanding such immense armies, with user interface and controls optimized for directing groups of units.
Simultaneously, individual units possess unique attributes and abilities. Managing these tactical factors across a vast strategic battlefield introduces a novel twist to traditional RTS gameplay. Will you amass an unstoppable army of brute force, or employ a specialized strike team for surgical precision strikes? Sanctuary’s scale encourages creative paths to victory.
The developers have also prioritized intelligent unit AI, reducing the need for excessive micromanagement compared to older RTS games. Your troops will maneuver and follow orders more intelligently, allowing you to focus on high-level strategy. However, direct control remains crucial for fully utilizing each unit’s potential, presenting a strategic choice of finding the right balance between command and control.
Economy Drives Decision Making
Sanctuary implements a flow-based economic system that aims to offer strategic depth beyond base building and unit queues. Players must manage income and expenses in real-time, without arbitrary resource caps. Pursuing a swift massive army could lead to bankruptcy and vulnerability against a patient, fortified adversary playing the long game. Intelligent expansion and investment will be essential for victory.
The economy dynamically responds to decisions, ensuring that no two matches play out the same way. For instance, rapid investment in infrastructure can trigger an economic boom, while reckless spending could result in a recession, stalling unit production. This system tests a player’s adaptability in responding to an ever-changing battlefield. Economic choices will be just as critical as unit tactics.
Between managing economies, battles, resource networks, and production on a planet-sized battlefield, Sanctuary challenges players with the ultimate RTS juggling act. Do you possess the multitasking skills and strategic acumen to emerge victorious in such a grand undertaking? Sanctuary aims to find out.
Story-Driven Single Player Campaign
For those who prefer their RTS experience with an engaging campaign and storyline, Sanctuary aims to deliver. The initial release will include a robust story-focused single-player mode alongside its multiplayer component. Players can immerse themselves in the intricate fiction of the Dyson Sphere through immersive missions that branch into different paths.
The developers promise an epic narrative filled with plot twists, diplomatic tension, grand battles, and vibrant characters. Co-op support allows players to tackle the campaign cooperatively with friends, enabling collaborative conquest of Sanctuary.
The campaign intends to showcase the diverse abilities of the factions within the sphere. Certain missions will grant you command over the Chosen, EDA, or Guard, highlighting their distinct strengths and playstyles. Deeper story content will also unveil more of the sphere’s hidden secrets and centuries-long history that led to open war.
Ambitious Post-Launch Plans
While the initial release offers hundreds of hours of RTS content, the development team has even more ambitious plans for the post-launch period. Their unwavering commitment demonstrates that this is a true passion project aimed at establishing the next great RTS franchise.
Planned features encompass multi-player seasons, ranked 1v1 ladders, team games, tournaments with prize pools, regular balance adjustments based on community feedback, and years of ongoing refinement and improvements.
The team intends to support Sanctuary, ensuring its continuous evolution and expansion for the foreseeable future. Mod and map support will empower the game community to continually introduce new content, including maps, factions, campaigns, and modes, based on player preferences. This approach promises near-endless replayability and will help Sanctuary’s multiplayer thrive for years beyond its launch.
Overall, the development team is profoundly dedicated to releasing not just a remarkable RTS but also providing extensive post-launch support, making it a thriving hub for the RTS community. If they succeed in realizing this vision, Sanctuary could become the next enduring staple and social nexus for RTS enthusiasts.
Built From a Legacy of Classics
Sanctuary: Shattered Sun is the brainchild of a small yet highly talented development team comprised of veteran RTS designers and modders who were directly inspired by playing Supreme Commander, Total Annihilation, and other iconic strategy titles. Their goal was to capture the finest aspects of these beloved games while modernizing the genre with Sanctuary’s fresh features and innovations.
Many of the developers were profoundly influenced by Total Annihilation, released in 1997, and their experience with one of the first 3D large-scale RTS games equipped them well to push boundaries even further with Sanctuary. Notably, the team and developers have received direct endorsements and compliments from Chris Taylor, the legendary RTS visionary behind Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander. This uniquely positions the team to craft the ‘spiritual successor’ that Sanctuary aims to be.
However, it’s important to emphasize that Sanctuary does not merely imitate past games; instead, it uses their legacy as a foundation for something new. This isn’t a sequel or remaster but an evolution that takes the best aspects of its influences and transforms them into a genuinely modern RTS that aligns seamlessly with the current gaming landscape.
With its breathtaking spherical world, distinctive gameplay mechanics, and revamped economic system, Sanctuary is shaping up to offer a one-of-a-kind strategy experience. Its fractured factions eagerly await your guidance. Which will you lead to victory? Keep a close watch on this ambitious and promising game as it approaches launch and forges its own place in the annals of RTS history. The next evolution of the genre may be just around the corner.