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Hell march: hands-on with Command & Conquer

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 16:15 GMT By Dave Cook

Command & Conquer is making a comeback as a huge free-to-play experience later this year. Dave Cook goes hands-on to see if it lives up to Westwood’s legacy.

Command & Conquer

Developed by Victory Games, Command & Conquer is free-to-play and will launch with factions and units from the ‘Generals’ timeline.

The studio told VG247 that it would add the Tiberium and Red Alert timelines to the game after launch, as well as exploring entirely new fictions.

Powered by DICE’s Frostbite 2 engine, Command & Conquer is looking rather lovely. See EA’s latest gameplay screens here.

Although it’s free, Command & Conquer will feature multiplayer and single player skirmshes against bots at launch, but no solo campaigns. Those come later, we were told.

The impact of Command & Conquer shouldn’t be understated. It brought the notion of RTS gameplay to a wider audience and led fans on to other titles such as StarCraft and Company of Heroes.

It has a long and mostly-accomplished history, but I get the impression that opinions have waned in recent years. EA and Victory Games seem to know it too, as they’re stripping the series back to its bare bones in this latest release.

Although it was originally announced as the second instalment in the ‘Generals’ strain of C&C games, it’s now simply called ‘Command & Conquer’. There’s significance to the name.

Victory’s plan for its free-to-play game is to launch it as a C&C Generals title, then create off-shoots focused on the Tiberium and Red Alert canon further down the line.

At a recent EA showcase event, I was also told that the studio wants to explore new timelines beyond these three varied settings, based on entirely new fiction.

For now however, Command & Conquer focuses on the mechanics and timeline of Generals, giving players the option of controlling three initial factions. Thanks to the power of microtransactions, the studio has plans to add more groups over time, as well as new generals that will add specific bonuses to your army. I was told that some content will be free, but that remains to be seen.

First up is the European Union, which is the game’s high-tech faction. Their ace in the hole is the Railgun Tank, a lumbering, ferocious monster that can overwhelm opponents in large numbers. I asked the developer sitting next to me if tank rush was going to be a pain in the tits this time round, but I was assured that it won’t be a ‘win-all’ strategy.

On that note, the Asia-Pacific Alliance faction is absolutely geared towards swarming opponents with a sheer volume of infantry units. Their squads take less time to build, so there is potential for rolling large teams of varied units across the map. Fail to keep the swarm balanced however and they’ll be flattened in moments.

Finally, the Global Liberation Army is the game’s resident terrorist group, and gives rise to what Victory is calling ‘improvised’ play. It’s a faction that must react to whatever opponents are doing on the fly, using stealth and subversion rather than brute force. It also comes with two unique tech trees called ‘Salvage’ and ‘Toxin’.

My play-test begins in control of the Asia-Pacific Alliance faction on an African map called Blood Diamond. It didn’t take long for all of the classic C&C thought processes to return as I created power stations to keep the juice flowing, started training troops in my barracks and sent my resource harvesters out to salvage scrap.

It felt like classic C&C even if a few things had changed. The presence of two power tiers for electricity and oil takes some getting used to. You need a mix of both to create more advanced vehicles, so you need to place oil derricks and power stations around your base to keep them topped up.

While previous C&C games would see your ore or Tiberium trucks intuitively seeking out resources, here you must direct them to salvage caches dotted around the map. Not only do these stockpiles create suitable hubs for base expansion, or new sites altogether, but they can give rise to skirmishes over resources.

Everything feels natural if you’re a fan of the series. Old tactics such as being able to garrison buildings with troops, and create advanced facilities to access higher tech trees will be familiar to veterans, suggesting that Victory Games is keen to recapture the essence of the series.

New tricks such as placing propaganda towers near troops – thereby giving them a health boost – add tactical breadth to each encounter, but of course nothing beats a good old battle between the muscle of infantry and tanks. As a way of testing out the developer’s claim that tank rush was no longer an option, I created a huge batch of assorted tanks and rolled them up the map to my opponent’s base.

The Frostbite 2 engine kicked in as my tanks crunched over cars, causing them to burst in a shower of nuts, bolts and shrapnel, revealing more of the map’s fog of war as I advanced. Everything felt chunky and satisfying, making me believe I was unstoppable, but after reaching my enemy’s base my tank brigade was reduced to ash in moments. I felt like a wally.

Instead, what you really need is to tap in into the rock, paper, scissors mentality of battle by creating troop and vehicle types that will counter attacks of any form. Aircraft, ground-to-air defence vehicles and a mix of standard and special infantry – I recommend the flamethrower troops – are all needed to back up your tank squads.

I think this is the most important element of a solid strategy game – that no one tactic can defeat absolutely everything that stands in your path. Victory Games has – so far – given me no reason to believe that such a shortcut exists, so you can consider me very intrigued in what’s next in store for Command & Conquer.

It was a fleeting hands-on session, but most importantly, the game feels like part of the series. With no campaign at launch, and plans to monetise the hell out of new generals, maps and modes after along the way, I’m keen to see just how much of the game freeloaders will get gratis. For now though, I’m keen to play more.

Stay tuned for my interview with Command & Conquer developer Victory Games soon.

Disclosure: To write this interview, Dave attended a recent EA showcase event in London. All travel and food was paid for by VG247. Catering at the event was offered but not accepted. No code, merchandise or advertising was accepted.

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11 Comments

  1. Hirmetrium

    I’m still really worried about the lack of talk about how its monetized. What is going to be monetized besides tank skins? Are certain units locked away? What sort of cash input are we talking to be able to play?

    What does the game play like? what is it closest to? CnC3 or Red Alert 3? Both are very different games. It’s all well and good to say “it feels like a CnC game”, but they all play very differently :P

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @1 I’d say it plays closer to Red Alert at core level, but with the Generals buffs (each general gives you bonuses, from air strikes to additional resources etc)

    Hope this helps :)

    PS: I’d like to know more about monetisation too.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Hirmetrium

    Ah, cheers Dave. Can always rely on you my good man :) Red Alert was always my favourite, even if I felt RA3 lost its way a bit.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Zohar

    RA2 4 life :P

    Anyway, thanks Dave, that looks really exciting. I’m jealous you got to play it! haha

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Mus42

    Well that’s the end of my interest in C&C then :(
    “Your base has been destroyed, send us $1.99 for a new one!”

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Dave Cook

    @3 Any time :) Yeah I preferred the Red Alert games too. I have such good memories of playing 4 player games using four PSones and four TVs with my mates, plus a stack of pizzas and underage beer-drinking.

    Sigh…

    @4 Red Alert is the bomb :D I wish I could have played longer and tried all the factions, but I had to interview other devs. be sure to check out my C&C interview in a week or two.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Dave Cook

    @5 that’s just madness :P You seem to get a lot for free. Three factions, multiple generals, tons of maps. It’s not all bad. Stay positive :D

    #7 2 years ago
  8. xXNapsterManXx

    I don’t mind them monetizing the game if it’s f2p but I don’t like the sound of having to buy more maps to me that sounds like giving us 2 maps free and putting another 5 maps behind pay wall. I’d rather this wasn’t f2p I loved the generals games I still have one of those super thick guide books around those things were awesome.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Jerykk

    I’d say it plays most like Generals. It has actual builder units instead of construction yards, for one. Units are multifunctional and will have multiple upgrade paths, if that part of Generals remains intact. Also, propaganda towers aren’t new. They were in the original Generals too.

    Anywho, the biggest balance issue with Generals was the missile infantry. They were really overpowered. There were some vehicles which could hold infantry and allow them to shoot from it while driving around. The most popular U.S. tactic was to build a bunch of Hummers, fill them with missile infantry and then just drive around and annihilate everything. It made tanks largely worthless. Hopefully that won’t be the case in this new game.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. ItsFade

    @9

    Haha I remember that strategy, loved filling my Hummers with 3 missile soldiers, a flashbang soldier and a sniper. Took out buildings, tanks and infantry all with one vehicle.

    Speaking of this strategy does anybody know if the EU faction has a vehicle equivalent to the Humvee from the original Generals? Every screenshot they have showed so just shows the two tanks and and the APC.

    Honestly looking forward to this game a lot more after hearing it’s more like a classic C&C game. I can’t wait.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. CCsince1995

    It sill looks like cartoons from the older versions of C&C. Leave the orange and bright colors alone. If you play C&C you should know where your units are without having to add school colors like yellow and orange to any battle group. Come on developer you done good but get like the other war games, more realism. NO loud flashy colors!!!!!

    #11 2 years ago

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    Developers behind space exploration games Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen will honour the memory of Leonard Nimoy through in-game memorials. The develops of both games have confirmed separately that in-game memorials will be established to honour the memory of the late Star Trek actor, Leonard Nimoy, famous for playing Spock. Elite: Dangerous executive producer Michael […]

  • Deal: get a PlayStation 4 + three exclusives for $399

    Amazon’s latest PlayStation 4 deal is not one to miss. With purchase of a PlayStation 4 console from Amazon in the US, the online retailer will throw in digital codes for Infamous Second Son, Killzone Shadow Fall and The Last of Us: Remastered, all for the same MSRP of $399. The Last of Us Remastered […]

  • Destiny: this is how one player predicted House of Wolves details and Xur’s inventory

    The method one Redditor possibly used to leak some details from Destiny’s House of Wolves was the same one he used to predict the inventory of Xur: Agent of the Nine. Last week, Reddit user Megamanexe4 leaked a few pieces of House of Wolves expansion content. The leaks included strikes, new Crucible mode, and a […]

  • Mortal Kombat X is coming to iOS… as a card-battler

    Mortal Kombat X will be releasing on mobile devices in some form, just not the one you except. Mortal Kombat X is coming to Android and iOS devices as an extension of the main game. It will launch in April alongside the console versions. The mobile game will be part card collecting and part fighting […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain announcement coming this Wednesday

    Kojima Productions will unveil something about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain this Wednesday. Metal Gear Solid fans should standby for a Phantom Pain-related announcement on Wednesday, March 4. According to developer Kojima Productions’ Twitter, there’s going to be an announcement at 2pm GMT on Wednesday. The developer posted the following image. The image […]

  • Reader survey: time to let us get to know you better!

    We’d really appreciate it if you could fill in this survey about the websites you read and the games you buy. It massively helps! You can fill out the survey right here and obviously all the information you supply is confidential. It helps us build a better picture of the people who read our site […]

  • Battlefield Hardline Premium: here’s everything you get for $50

    Battlefield Hardline’s Premium membership will give players access to 4 new features, early access to expansion packs and more. EA detailed the offer today – it costs $50 in total (£40 in the UK) and gives players a whole bundle of new gear and content. Check it all out in handy list form below: Masks […]

  • Hayter’s gonna hate: the voice of Solid Snake wouldn’t answer my Metal Gear question

    Voice actor and Hollywood writer David Hayter discusses the differences between movies and games. And politely declines my leading question. “It might be fun to do a crazy, over-the-top film version of Saint’s Row.” Yeah, that headline is a bit cheap but you’re reading the work of a man who once asked the maker of […]

  • Xbox One bundle gets £100 price cut in UK

    Microsoft has knocked up to £100 off Xbox One bundles in the UK. The Xbox One with Kinect Assassin’s Creed bundle is now £100 cheaper and comes with a free £20 voucher to be spent on the official Microsoft online store. Over on the Xbox online store there’s a £70 price cut on the white […]

  • Pokemon Shuffle downloaded 1m times, free stuff given out to celebrate

    Free-to-play 3DS title Pokemon Shuffle has been downloaded over 1 million times. As a reward for playing the match-3 puzzle game Nintendo has gifted players a Complexity -1 item for free. The item reduces the difficulty of a level, according to Eurogamer. By all accounts Pokemon Shuffle is a cynical game with poorly implemented microtransactions. […]

  • Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power sure is pretty

    FrozenByte Games has revealed Trine 3, due for release in 2015 And what better way to reveal a new side-scrolling adventure than with a very pretty trailer full of gameplay? The latest in a series that has already sold 7 million copies is earmarked for PC and “other” formats. Trine 2 released on PS3, PS3, […]

  • Dying Light takes UK number one

    A month since it was released on digital platforms, Dying Light’s physical release has topped the UK charts. Techland and Warner’s zombie survival game has proven to be one of the big hits of the year so far. It was released on digital formats a month ago but has only just been released on good-old […]

  • GTA 5: that’s some seriously accurate grenade throwing

    Think you can take down a jet plane with a grenade throw? This guy can. In fact, he can do it twice. This is in a variation on the player-created deathmatch “Stunters Versus Snipers” which seem to be all the rage in GTA Online at the moment. One team has a sniper rifle (and grenades) […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: Mother Base turns pink in the morning sun

    The Phantom Pain looks nice even when Kojima just takes a quick pic with his phone. Look at that beauty. We get nice reflection in pink at the first gray of dawn. pic.twitter.com/aERTBoZT9z — HIDEO_KOJIMA (@HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN) March 2, 2015 The game doesn’t have a release date yet, which makes us a bit nervous for it […]

  • Dying Light: Underpant Gnomes and 9 other secrets you missed

    Dying Light still has legs – maybe because it’s crammed full of secret things to discover. Ten of those have been highlighted by TerraMantis’ latest YouTube video, including reference to the Underpant Gnomes, guitar lessons, farting zombies and well, we don’t want to spoil it for you. Even if you think you’ve seen everything in […]

  • Resident Evil: Revelations 2 Raid Mode dance gestures are deadly

    Why blind ‘em with science when you could kill ‘em with dance moves? revelations raid When I say Resident Evil: Revelations 2‘s Raid Mode dance gestures are deadly, I’m not being figurative. If you finish the first chapter of Revelations 2 you can unlock Gina for use in Raid Mode. All characters can use gestures […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition mod enables male Blackwall romance, terrific joke

    “Male Inquisitors can now scale the wall,” says a clever Redditor. A new Dragon Age: Inquisition mod removes Blackwall’s romantic restrictions, allowing male Inquisitors to chat up the fuzzy-faced warrior. Blackwall doesn’t have any race preferences, so you’re good to go there. Dragon Age: Inquisition romance mods are pretty common by now, and to be […]

  • Destiny: it is possible to solo the Weekly Heroic

    Destiny players willing to faff about with their system clock can solo the Weekly Nightfall if they prefer. The Weekly Heroic is one of Destiny‘s toughest challenges. Responding to player feedback Bungie implemented matchmaking for the Weekly Heroic, but there are players who genuinely prefer to go it alone. There’s now no legitimate way to […]

  • Clayfighter remaster on the way, says Interplay

    A Clayfighter remake is inbound, apparently. Interplay has announced a Clayfighter remaster, combining the content of all past games into one package. Features include: Characters such as Bad Mr. Frosty, Blue Suede Goo, Earthworm Jim, Hoppy, Boogerman, Tiny – and more with over 20 characters total Over 20 familiar environments from the series to duke […]

  • The quickest way to climb in Dying Light

    Dying Light players! Are you sick of picking your way carefully up the sides of tall towers? Have I got a trick for you. The parkour system in Dying Light is okay, but climbing anywhere especially high can be a bit tedious. Enter Jesse Lester, who took a look at the tools available and worked […]

  • Bungie “always” looking at Exotic changes for Destiny updates

    Destiny developer Bungie won’t stop tinkering with Exotic weapons. In Destiny, Exotic weapons are supposed to be the best of the best – and to feel unique. Guns like Ice Breaker and Gjallahorn definitely hit the mark there (although less so when everyone has one), but unfortunately, there are a few that just don’t strike […]

  • Is Uncharted 4′s first trailer a tribute to Crash Bandicoot?

    Uncharted 4′s first proper trailer bears some remarkable similarities to the opening moments of a much earlier Naughty Dog game. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has more in common with Crash Bandicoot than you might think. It’s Naughty Dog’s first game on a new console, yes – but if you compare Uncharted 4′s E3 2014 […]

  • Sonic console games will continue, says Iizuka

    Sonic Team leader Takashi Iizuka has said there are no plans to stop making Sonic games. Sonic hasn’t retired from the ranks just yet. “Please rest assured, I personally have no plans to stop making Sonic games for home consoles,” Iizuka told 4Gamer [Japanese]. The comment arose after the site asked if Sonic would become […]

  • Stealth Inc. 2 coming to PSN, apparently

    Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones will soon be available on PlayStation platforms, if a trophy list is to be believed. Stealth Inc. 2 initially launched as a Wii U exclusive, disappointing fans of Curve Studios’ tough action game. We’ve heard nothing to contradict this, but Exophase, a generally reliable source, has dug up […]

  • Runescape developer has an “undisclosed MMO” in the works

    Runescape developer Jagex is working on something new. According to Jagex’s careers page, the developer has a new, unannounced game in the works. Its advertisement for a lead programmer makes explicit mention of an “undisclosed MMO”. The ad mentions the new title is in “the preliminary stages of redefining the cross platform MMORPG genre” and […]

  • Destiny PvP rewards system to be addressed

    Destiny developer Bungie has said it will change the way Crucible rewards work. Destiny players are always complaining about the perfidy of RNGesus, but there’s one area where it particularly hurts: the Crucible. PvP players often receive nothing at all for excellent performances, and sometimes Guardians receive the best drops merely for logging in as […]

  • Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 in the works for 3DS

    Azure Striker Gunvolt is getting a sequel. Azure Striker Gunvolt developer Inti Creates has confirmed that the sidescroller has been popular enough to warrant a second instalment. The sequel will also be released on 3DS, the team said on Facebook. Very little information is available at present, unfortunately. “As time goes on we will have […]

  • Life is Strange Episode 2 not delayed, says developer

    Life is Strange developer Dontnod Entertainment has said the second episode is on track for release this month. I guess it would know. Life is Strange Episode 2 has been expected on March 13, but late last week Square Enix told Destructoid it had been delayed. Dontnod has since denied this report, describing it as […]

  • First SteamVR game reveal is Job Simulator

    Job Simulator is the first game to be announced specifically for SteamVR, Valve’s virtual reality tech. Shoot Many Robots and Aaaaa! For the Awesome! developer Owlchemy Labs is the first team to put its hand up and say it’s worked with SteamVR. In a blog post, the studio unveiled Job Simulator, which will be playable […]

  • HTC, Valve partner for Vive VR headset

    The first SteamVR announce is a headset a manufactured by HTC, the Taiwanese mobile company revealed over the weekend. Valve told us last week it planned to unveil virtual reality hardware at GDC, calling it “SteamVR” at the time. Now HTC has pre-empted Valve by revealing Vive, a headset developed thanks to a collaboration between […]

  • Watch the Evolve Chappie Challenge tomorrow on Twitch

    Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2K and Turtle Rock Studios have announced a tournament being hosted by ESL, which will see Evolve players take on newest movie robot, Chappie. The ESL has teamed up with Twitch for the live 4 on 1 competitive event, and you can watch as it all unfolds tomorrow, March 1 at 3pm […]

  • If you’re attending PAX East, stop and have a look at Necropolis

    We haven’t heard much on Harebrained Schemes’ latest since it was announced in November, but today, the team has seen fit to release some interesting gifs of its a new project, Necropolis. Necropolis is a third-person action rogue-like with procedurally generated which can be “re-rolled mid-playthrough” and is headed to Linux, Mac and PC sometime […]