At the end of the 21st century a colossal object appeared around the orbit of Pluto and scientists named it "The Shard" because of the way it looked. The Shard emitted a deadly aura which changed and destroyed the essence of space and every life that came near it, and its destination was the planet Earth. Humanity wasn't able to change the course of the object and feared that a collision would destroy the planet; but instead of ramming Earth, the object landed in north-east Siberia. The joy over this surprising turn of events didn't last long: now called "the plague", the aura of the ship began to change the planet and everything on it.
Several centuries have gone by since the Shard landed. The plague is still active and the human civilization, as it existed in the 21st century, is no more. Instead, the survivors have built five so-called MegaCities, in which they live behind layers of steel and cement, only leaving the safety to gather much needed resources from the surrounding lands. Everyone else that didn't die from the plague mutated and became stronger through it. They gained strange powers and abilities, and now call themselves the Tribes. Meanwhile, the humans are no longer alone on the planet: a third faction called "The Cult" has appeared. No one knows who those mysterious beings are, nor what they want; all that is known is that the Shard has something to do with it.
WorldShift is a real-time strategy game with RPG elements. While the game features a story campaign that puts the player in the shoes of a human Lord Commander with pre-defined unit layouts and skill sets, the heart is the multiplayer-mode, featuring both Player-vs-Environment (= Coop) maps as well as Player-vs-Player-battles.
Before the start of a match the player chooses between the three factions and builds up a small army. Each army consists of one or more heroes and several smaller units. The player has a specific number of recruitment points available, of which each unit costs a specific amount. While a normal soldier only needs one recruitment point, a mighty Hellfire swallows almost a quarter of the available points.
While playing the game the player collects artifacts, rewards, and Xenoshards. The artifacts and rewards are items that either help the hero of a specific faction or boost a unit from that faction. For each faction there is a limited number of slots available where such items can be put. The Xenoshards are used to buy talents that grant the hero access to new spells and abilities. Anything that the player defines will be available for every gameplay mode.
Once all the choices have been made and the game begins, the game plays like traditional RTS. In the story and on the co-op maps the players only have a limited number of troops available. Some heroes have the ability to resurrect fallen units, but most have to get by with whatever is available. While the player follows the story in the campaign, the co-op maps are open for exploration and mainly contain regular and boss monsters that the players need to take down in order to get powerful items and collect Xenoshards.
The three PvP-modes (Deathmatch, Training and Skirmish) play similarly to Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Players need to collect the resource Xenolit, build a base, recruit units and heroes, and destroy the enemy completely. Except for the training-mode, the players fight for battle points and artifacts in these matches. Contrary to the pre-made maps in the PvE-modes, the maps for the PvP-matches are generated randomly, so no two matches are the same.
If the player can't find any human enemies, he can also play against AI-controlled bots.