World War III is the primary setting of Tom Clancy's EndWar.
Prelude to War
The prelude to war takes place before WWIII and explains how the conflict began.
On March 23, 2020, European Federation (EF) uplink sites in the "lawless zone," where Croatia used to be, are attacked by an as-yet unidentified group of terrorists, who are using T-80 tanks, from a beached cargo ship. They are repulsed by EF Enforcers Corps (EFEC) forces. During the battle, the EF attempts to gain access to the cargo ship that the terrorists use but the ship is destroyed before they can gain access. Details of the attack are kept secret. On April 4, 2020, when the final module of the Freedom Star is set to launch from Kennedy Space Center amid international outcry, the same group of terrorists attack the module and attempt to destroy it, using the same methods as the Croatian attack. Once again they are repulsed, this time by the United States Joint Strike Force (JSF) as reports of yet another terrorist attack come in, this time of an assault on the Rozenburg petrol plant in the Netherlands. After being defeated by EFEC forces, the terrorists identify themselves as the "Forgotten Army" composed of people from a collection of failed states in the Balkans, Africa and South America. Following a final terrorist attack, this time on a Russian power plant near Minsk, the US finds "conclusive evidence" that the European Federation's defense minister, François Pulain, funded the Forgotten Army with modern military equipment. They send a black-ops team to abduct him while he inspects the Copenhagen uplink network, but an anonymous call by Russia informs Danish police and together with EFEC forces trap the team in one of the uplinks. On April 7, 2020, the US crashes Copenhagen's uplinks and sends in JSF units to rescue the trapped team. The US successfully repels the EFEC's first attack, but European forces are able to counter-attack and reboot Copenhagen's uplinks in their favor, forcing JSF forces to surrender and allowed US safe passage back. While emergency peace talks are held in London, it is revealed (to the player only) that Russia funded the Forgotten Army's attacks as well as planting the evidence against Pulain, citing the need to keep the EF and the US from uniting in order to take Russia's oil. To ensure that war is sparked between the two powers, elements of the Spetsnaz Guard Brigade (SGB) embark on a covert operation, disguised as Forgotten Army soldiers, to upload a virus into the European SLAMS network at Rovaniemi air base in Finland. The virus causes an EF orbital laser satellite to shoot down the new Freedom Star module during lift off, thinking it to be an ICBM. The entire crew is killed, and news reports blaming problems from "malfunction" to "terrorist hijacking" to (finally) "EF satellite." This final act starts a war between the two powers. Russia initially joins the U.S under the guise of "aiding it in its crusade against Europe" and invades EF-controlled Poland, but the United States sees this as an attempt to reform the Eastern Bloc and attacks Russia. World War III has begun.
World War III
World War III is an open ended part of the story where the player chooses their faction and character and tries to take all three Capitals or twenty-eight battlefields.
The campaign plays much like Prelude to War with a few additional options. During World War III between battles the player has the option to choose between several battle locations. The battles that the player could have chosen, but did not, will be fought by AI. The player also has the option to upgrade their chosen battalion with improved attack, defense, mobility, and ability characteristics. Upgrades such as airstrike and force recon can also be researched.
At the conclusion of each campaign battle a summary screen is shown. This screen includes information including number of battalion units promoted, amount of credits (money) received, command rating, medals, mission duration, and a quote by a famous military leader. The player can gain a more in depth understand of the battle summary by viewing the details screens, which provides a breakdown of statistics, ranking and so forth.
During the course of the war several situations arise such as adverse weather conditions like typhoons causing people to become homeless and rescue teams being dispatched, and reports of protest against the war. These parts of the story are told via television reports. Also, they report the sinking of an enemy ship by airstrikes and WMDs.
When the war has ended, the winning faction takes control of the world and a special scene is shown, which shows the winning faction's flag and troops parading with the voice of the faction's General talking about their victory and what will happen in the future; depending on whether it is America, Europe or Russia that is the winning side, the cut scene is different due to different speeches by Generals and different reasons for starting the war.