Total Annihilation is a classic game, and also one which is easy to mod. Everything from the maps to the units to the physics could be modded in a number of ways. This has given Total Annihilation surprising flexibility and there are currently numerous mods based off the game. This guide picks out the mods which are worth your time.
Total Annihilation: Escalation
One of the few Total Annihilation mods being actively worked on which still uses the original Total Annihilation engine, TA: Escalation is basically a mod which further escalates the game’s reputation for explosions and huge battle battles. The mod also works hard to update the original game so that it feels more modern and streamlined. There is a new interface, a new unit upgrade system, and new explosion graphics. The mod also offers a total of 75 new units, all of which are comparable in terms of quality to the units in the original game. The mod also enhances the graphics of some of the game’s original units.
Total Annihilation: Escalation incorporates gameplay ideas and improvements which arrived in Supreme Commander. The mod includes new shield defenses which deflect incoming attacks, introduces mass teleportation devices and adds air transport units which are capable of carrying more than a single unit at a time. The mod also expand some concepts. The intelligence gathering meta-game which has long been a part of Total Annihilation is refined by the inclusion of new radar units and new radar jammers.
Although based off Total Annihilation, Complete Annihilation actually uses the Spring engine. The Spring engine was the result of a project which attempted to make Total Annihilation an entirely 3D game. The project was successful and there are now numerous Total Annihilation mods which make use of Spring. Complete Annihilation is one of the most popular Total Annihilation mods of all time and one of the few which still maintains a small but active multi-player community.
Complete Annihilation places an emphasis on tactical gameplay. It does this by simplifying the economic portion of the game. Metal income can now be increased through the use of energy income at any time without the need to build metal makers. The game also has a faster pace than vanilla Total Annihilation, which forces player to pay more attention to unit placement and the timing of attacks. The mod also focuses on changing the balance between the Arm and the Core so that less units are shared and tactics differ between them.
The mod also includes numerous graphical enhancements including new unit models, high resolution textures, revised explosion and weapons effects and new, more aesthetically pleasing maps.
Another Total Annihilation mod which uses the Spring engine, Balanced Annihilation’s goal is fairly obvious – it seeks to improve Total Annihilation by improving the balance of the game. The motto of the design is that every unit should have a role, but no unit should have every role. This seems to have worked well, as Balanced Annihilation is currently the most popular Total Annihilation mod with the largest active multi-player community.
Balanced Annihilation also focuses less on adding new units or modifying the original game’s mechanics than other mods. The gameplay experience in Balanced Annihilation is certainly different from vanilla Total Annihilation as the balance between units has been radically altered and some new units have been added. However, like the original Total Annihilation, Balanced Annihilation focuses largely on strategic gameplay with tactics becoming relevant only in certain battles.
There is a new gameplay variant available in this mod called Chicken Defense. It is basically Total Annihilation tower defense. The "chickens" are large aliens who are constantly on the attack. While the mod sounds lame, it is actually a lot of fun. Players who like to play with Total Annihilation’s large selection of defensive units will love this part of the mod.