A press embargo lifted today, bringing the first screenshots, and hands-on accounts with EA's new Command & Conquer project, the real-time strategy game that started life as Command & Conquer Generals 2, and transformed into a free-to-play venture with a long term vision as a portal for the entire C&C franchise.
We're yet to check the game out ourselves, but here's a few choice findings from publications around the web:
Originally a follow-up to 2003 game Command & Conquer: Generals, EA's forthcoming PC strategy game is being pitched less like a sequel and more like a evolving live service where we might play future C&C games.
It's a free-to-play game, and freed of narrative connections to the long-running Red Alert and Tiberian fiction. There are no plans for cinematic cut scenes of the B movie-quality Command & Conquer was known for in the '90s. At launch, Command & Conquer won't feature a single-player campaign, but it will include single-player content.
As much as it feels like Command & Conquer, in other words, it's still a departure for the series. A new business model, a new developer, and a new engine. On this last front, at least, Victory seems pretty confident, "As far as I know, this is the first time a first-person engine has been adapted to run a third-person real-time strategy game," says Morten. "Of course that brings with it a great deal of detail in terms of geometry and in terms of textures, but it also brings network advantages in terms of the full-client server. No more being gated by the slowest connection, no more susceptibility to cheating."PC Gamer
With that in mind, I mention the possibility of user-created content. If maps are free, then is there a chance for the game to come with a map editor. Surprisingly it’s something Victory games are considering. Morten says they’ll do it if they can make it work: “It’s not as much about free-to-play as it is about the engine. I’m really excited about the possibility of potentially providing the ability for players to trade maps, and to have an interface for that instead of it just being ad-hoc through sites.”
The good will eventually runs out at server-hosting. I didn’t expect it to be any other way, but Morten confirms that there will be only EA hosted servers that users can customise: “Our server back-end is run entirely in the cloud, so in terms of being able to set-up tournaments using our servers, absolutely, but users having their own box – that’s not possible, because it’s got to be part of our cloud cluster. We’re still going to provide player the hooks to provide their own tournaments, so hopefully they’ll still get the features they want, but with a good quality of experience.
"We've gone back to Generals, which came out almost ten years ago now, and we've implemented some of the same units, but also added new ones. Over time we're going to add more factions, and we're going to revisit the Tiberium and Red Alert universes." EA Victory has made it clear that it wants to make Command & Conquer suitable for the eSports market, which has become huge business - especially in Korea. It's unlikely it'll dethrone StarCraft, but with fun, balanced combat and a fair free-to-play structure, they could build up a large and loyal fan base.
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