One of the cool things I like in Maiden Desmodus is how you can recruit and train troops and then assemble them into squads before marching them around the game world to take control of different areas. The troops can’t be attacked like regular NPCs but can be battled with other military units in a turn based combat system. This system isn’t very sophisticated by wargaming standards but it takes account of things like facing, terrain, morale, training and fatigue as well as the relative sizes of the units.
I’d love to see something like this in an MMO but I’m struggling to think of one that has any kind of mass warfare system. Most games allow you to control the odd NPC or pet and World of Warcraft has a few big battles as part of certain quests, but there’s nothing in the regular gameplay. Maybe Archeage will have warfare but I can’t find any information on it. It also must be about the only feature that Embers of Caerus isn’t going to include.
This video shows 250 separately controlled NPC soldiers fighting it out in Unity:
I’m sure it wouldn’t be too much of a technical challenge to give us hundreds or maybe even thousands of NPCs fighting each other in an MMO. Military units needn’t be network aware at the individual NPC level and the server could just calculate the outcome and leave each client to render the actual battle scenes. Perhaps commanders could zoom out to a more tactical view allowing for much lower poly models to be used, and for clients in the thick of the battle there could be some aggressive clipping to keep performance under control.