The free-to-play market is yet to win over its more ardent critics and many Command & Conquer
fans feared that the title going free-to-play was essentially like it digging its own grave and settling in. However, Victory Games has taken up the challenge of creating a title that lives up to the franchise’s long-running reputation, but also utilises this newly popularised business model. According to Senior Development Director Tim Morten the team focused on building a Command & Conquer game rather than starting with a business model in mind, and the resulting product is promising with very clear connections to its predecessor Generals.
The game allows players to choose between three factions; the European Union, who seem remarkably similar to the American army of Generals; the Asian Pacific Alliance, with familiar elements of the Chinese faction; and the Global Liberation Army, who are the exact same as they were in Generals. Other elements will also be familiar to fans of the franchise. Players are tasked with building structures, supporting those structures with adequate power and resources, and churning out units, technologies and support buildings. When all that is said and done, it’s kill or be killed.
We jumped into a Skirmish match against the A.I. Initially, it was all about gathering resources, finding an oil patch and setting up an oil derrick to power our buildings. And then, the war began. As with the previous Generals title, you are better off to be on the move forward at all times. There are neutral resource dumps and oil patches dotted around the map, and expansion also gives you more space to build your production facilities. As with all strategy games, it’s better to have a number of production facilities spitting out a steady stream of units rather than leaving money stockpile or spent on queued units.
It all may sound like Command & Conquer: Generals
, and in truth it is because it is. The team seems to have captured the gameplay essence of this title and simply made it available to play via a web browser. The game is fast paced, the action comes thick-and-fast, and there are a number of plates for players to keep spinning and balanced. While we were playing an Alpha build, the potential is plain to see.The Frostbite 2 engine allows for more destruction and, despite the early build on display, the fire effects are impressive. Players may find themselves hoping that their enemy garrisons units in buildings, so they have the pleasure of seeing them tumbling down. Of course, the trade-off is that garrisoned units are well protected!
We didn’t get to see how the matchmaking works, but we were assured that Command & Conquer won’t be a pay-to-win title. Players will be able to grind their way to the same unlocks and perks, but players will only be matched up against players who have the same tools at their disposal. Players won’t be able to buy units, but will be able to access XP boosts and additional Generals with their own strengths and weaknesses using real world money.
The game is still in Alpha, so it will be a while before we get to see how things are progressing and can get a bead on how the final product will turn out. However, it is clear that Victory Games has put a lot of effort into recreating the Generals experience. We only got to try out the Skirmish mode, but the potential is there and we are looking forward to seeing how things shape up. Command & Conquer has significant competition in the RTS genre from the likes of Starcraft 2
, League of Legends
and Defence of the Ancients
, but is clearly not underestimating its opponents.