Hey, remember good ol’ Command and Conquer? And by good ol’ I mean all the games up to the Kane’s Wrath expansion for Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars. Those titles following on after those magnificent masterpieces can go jump off a cliff. The franchise has been largely under the radar since EA announced that it would be returning as a free to play title. It’s out later this year, and it’ll be set in the Generals universe from that franchise…amongst others.
Speaking to CVG, senior development director Tim Morten said that the latest C&C game will see the Tiberium and Red Alert worlds revisited. In subsequent games that is. “The Generals universe is where we’ve started, it was the universe most often requested by fans and also one that we haven’t been back to for a long time,” said Morten.
Over time we’re planning to add factions to that universe and explore the Tiberium universe, the Red Alert universe, and then get into completely new fictions, so it’s very exciting for us, it’s kind of a starting point for a whole new C&C.
The current game is being powered by DICE’s Frostbite 2 engine, and admittedly, it looks rather snazzy so far. See for yourself.
It’s been a decade since Generals first burst onto the scene, bringing with it a more streamlined approach to the franchise and a grittier, more realistic attitude that dealt with global armies and terrorist factions. For the latest C&C game though, it’ll be some fresh faces tackling a classic series of games. “We’ve got a new group of people, including some veterans of past series, but we’ve really got some fresh blood on the team, we’ve got a brand new engine, and it has taken time for everybody to walk through the mechanics of RTS on Frostbite and to really come up with the ideas that we feel are going to be critical to defining this next Command & Conquer”, Morten said.
Morten also detailed how new game modes would be present as well for the upcoming PC release;
We’ve put a lot of effort into building the back end that’s going to accommodate this title and future titles in the series. It’s a way for us to distribute content to consumers easily and to learn from them by collecting data about what content is and isn’t working, and also to really integrate their social experience.
The live service means that instead of trying to get everything done day one, you know, deadline is here and it has got to go in a box, we instead start with the core, make that as good as we can, and then add to that over time, so it’s a really powerful paradigm shift in the way we build the game.
By the nature of being a live service we’ve got the ability both to try brief experiments, such as trying out a new game mode one weekend and finding out what people think about it, and to roll out things that we’ve been cooking up over a long period of time. An example is something we’re tentatively calling Domination, which is sort of an adaptation of Capture the Flag to real time strategy.
There have been some efforts at this in other RTS games including past C&Cs, but our design team kind of incubates the idea, we test it internally, we roll it out to QA and closed beta testers, and eventually try it with an open audience. With a boxed product you could never do that, you’d have to get it right on day one for the launch, but with a live service we can put it out for people to give us their feedback and tune it on the basis of that.
As for that much requested single-player component, Morten had this to say;
At launch, players will have the ability to play single player Skirmish against AI. There’ll also be a co-op Onslaught mode against waves of AI. Longer term we want to start exploring mini campaigns, perhaps even more fully-fledged campaigns. We got the message loud and clear that that is something the audience cares about so we don’t want to let them down in any way.
I’m still feeling cautious of this new Command and Conquer, as the forced social setting makes me feel uneasy. Still, it looks stunning so far, so at least the more competitive minded folks out there will be getting an experiment from EA that looks quite purdy when it escapes Beta and goes into download mode.