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Dawn of Titans launches on Android: but does it go "beyond" console gaming?

“It turns out that it’s actually not that trivial to have thousands of troops all in real-time on your mobile phone.”
By
December 8, 2016
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NaturalMotion, the team behind the CSR Racing series, has just released its new title, Dawn of Titans. The free-to-play fantasy strategy game, which soft-launched in March 2015, features sweeping, real-time battles with thousands of on-screen units, all fully rendered in 3D. I recently had the chance to speak to NaturalMotion CEO Torsten Reil to take a look at the game and ask about the company’s aims for the title.

Reil said Dawn of Titans began by asking: “Wouldn’t it be cool if you could have a game where you could control thousands of troops in real time on your mobile phone with a swipe of a finger? And wouldn’t it be cool if those troops were being led into battle by these larger-than-life creatures called Titans?”

As it happens, even beginning to answer those first questions would be a big undertaking.

“It turns out that it’s actually not that trivial to have thousands of troops all in real-time on your mobile phone,” he said.

The NaturalMotion team did eventually make it work, however, and Reil told me that this breakthrough was the foundation of Dawn of Titans.

Dawn of just another fantasy strategy game?

Dawn of Titans is entering a market already crowded by fantasy-themed strategy games – think Clash of Clans, Game of War et al – but Reil believes Titans sets itself apart from competitors in several ways; one of the most obvious being its graphics.

NaturalMotion started out developing software for use in games rather than as an end-to-end games developer, and Dawn of Titans runs on an engine the company designed in-house.

Reil streamed part of the game for me on an iPhone (for “technical reasons” only – Reil assured me it runs “extremely well” on Android devices), to show off the technology used in the game. The attention paid to the graphical fidelity was immediately clear.

As he walked me through the game’s hub area, Reil appeared to take pride in pointing out what could be considered minor details to an uninitiated onlooker, such as the use of real-time lighting animations on characters who are stood in menus – and the activities occurring behind them.

“In many ways, we feel like we’re actually now – on mobile – going beyond console in terms of visual fidelity,” he said. Reil also discussed marketing materials for mobiles games which feature content that doesn’t look anything like the game you play, “We wanted to make a game that looks [just] as good as the videos,” he told me.

With this engine, Reil also said that the team had essentially managed to eliminate loading times from the game.

Given the level of detail, however, I had concerns about the kind of Android device you would need to be able to run Dawn of Titans. I suspected a high-end smartphone would be a requirement, which could stand in the way of widespread adoption, but Reil reassured that it would be supported on a “very wide range” of Android handsets.

Titan-ic?

NaturalMotion has a good track record when it comes to shipping polished, accessible mobile titles – and fantasy strategy games have the potential to achieve huge downloads on Android. Dawn of Titans is clearly built from solid stuff, as it were, which should help ensure it doesn’t sink without a trace.

In an interview last year, Reil talked about Pixar and how it was almost like a technology company, using its product – in this case, CGI – to deliver “amazing” experiences. I see a parallel between it and NaturalMotion (Pixar also started as a business that delivered animation services for others before creating its own entertainment products), but – as anybody who saw The Good Dinosaur would likely attest to – great looks don’t count for much when there’s no substance beneath it. Here’s hoping Dawn of Titans is as successful in its gameplay, too.

You can download Dawn of Titans for free here, and if you do, please share your thoughts on it in the comments.