Inside Beta: Conquest
Global Agenda's free-to-play sections based entirely on PvE and PvP missions are reason enough for fans of FPS games to check the upcoming title out, but the real meat of the game's subscription model is centered entirely around what Hi-Rez calls Conquest. Only paying subscribers will have access to this part of Global Agenda, and it's obviously the portion of the game that's the most like other persistent online offerings.
It's one part RTS and one part FPS, where your Alliance (a cooperative group of Agencies) can claim different sections of the world in order to collect big on resources for crafting heavy hitting weaponry, modifications for your agents, and lots of other helpful tools. But holding onto the land you claim proves more difficult than it might sound, as during different points of the day other Alliances and Agencies can siege your sectors of the map and take ownership themselves. You'll have plenty of time to fight back and defend what's yours, but you'd better bring your "A"-game and teamwork to the battle. But how does it all work? Let me try to detail that process as best as I can:
Global Agenda doesn't have traditional zones that we're used to in our standard MMORPGs. In beta there have been three different "maps" that are divided into hexagonal zones, each one ripe to be claimed by different Alliances. Each map has active and inactive periods, so that all times of the day are covered. Once a map closes, it won't open again until the next day, so whoever owns the zone at the end of the open time can call it their own at the very least for a day. When you own a hexagon (or many depending on the strength of your Alliance), your Alliance can build different crafting facilities on it or defense buildings to aid in keeping the zone. Top-end weapons and other gear can be made through the use of these facilities, as well as modifications to enhance your agents.
Mining facilities allow you to gather resources for crafting, Labs allow you to research blueprints to build different items, and factories will combine the former two to actually craft the items and place them in your agency's shared inventory. It's important to note that there are certain hexagons on each map that are denoted "resource" hexagons. Building the appropriate facility on these will provide additional bonuses to that facility's output.
Aside from the regular hexagons and resource hexagons, each of the maps has its own area specified for a base. In order for your agency to control the base, you must also own the six hexagons surrounding the base, and once this is completed the base begins to add "shields" to all hexagons you control on the map. In order for competing alliances to open up your shielded regions for attack, they must build a missile silo to launch a strike on the base, thus bringing down the shield temporarily and allowing them to lay siege to your occupied territory.
This might make it seem like only the largest of Alliances will have a chance to dominate, but the attacking and defending is limited in my experience to parties (Strikeforces) of eight to ten players. Larger alliances certainly still have the advantage of being able to do more at any given time, but at least the fights for control will remain balanced in numbers.
In order to attack an occupied hexagon, there are certain requirements that must be met. Your alliance must own a dropship and a respawn beacon. Basic versions of these are available for a price from vendors in the Dome City, but more advanced versions can be crafted later on as well. Your alliance can then place a bid on an enemy hexagon, which costs a number of credits out of your shared bank, but hopefully smart agency and alliance managers will set a decent enough tax rate on their agents to fund these sort of ventures. Once your alliance places a bid, unless contested by another bid, the PvP mission for control of that territory will begin in five minutes.
Something spiffy about dropships is that they allow you to carry certain cargo into battle with you. Siege vehicles, robotic mechs, and other advanced technologies can be brought into battle with you. But keep in mind that these items are destructible, and once they're blasted apart they're gone forever. This goes for respawn points as well. If you manage to find the enemy's, it's worth focusing on taking it out. Not only does it make it harder for them to return to battle, but it costs them funds as well.
The better your dropship, the more items you can carry with you into battle. So it's definitely in your agency and alliance's interest to save some credits and gather the resources necessary to upgrade your dropships. Defending agencies don't need to bring a dropship into battle (since they already own the land and have items stored there), but the option to do so is there should they want to bring extra goods onto the battlefield. Just be aware that your dropship is in harm's way whenever it's brought into battle.
As you can see from this outline, the Conquest mode of Global Agenda is a whole lot more involved than the basic PvP and PvE matches that fuel the free portion of the game. The ongoing conflict between agencies and alliances is what drives the subscription-based model of Global Agenda, and for the competitive and hardcore groups out there, it may well be worth your monthly funds to invest in Conquest. Each copy sold of Hi-Rez Studios' upcoming release has a free 30-day trial of the subscription package as in any other retail MMORPG, so you'll have plenty of time to decide if it's up your alley. With the funds coming in from subscription, the developer is planning on releasing bunches of new content every few months which I can only assume will mean new missions, new PvP matches, and plenty of enhancements to the Conquest system. At its core, Global Agenda is already a very enticing competitive game with truly addictive mechanics and gameplay. The Conquest mode only makes it more robust in its offerings, especially if you and your guildmates are keen on the idea of world domination.