You Should Be Playing CnC Rivals

What year is it? I’m celebrating that, in a months’ time I’ll be sitting down and playing a Spyro the Dragon game (or three), theres a ew Tomb Raider and a new DOOM on the way, and now I’m looking at Command & Conquer again. I feel like I’ve stepped into a wormhole and I’m eight years old again. These games were mainstays of my childhood and the original PlayStation generation.

No, this isn’t “Zimbabwe is so far behind on tech that PS1 era is current for us”, that’s not true at all, as evidenced by the fact that I’m typing this on a Razer Phone and that the Command & Conquer in question is “Command & Conquer Rivals”, a new mobile game published by EA.

Actually, that makes it weirder. I’m playing An EA title and enjoying it, this really does feel like a time warp.

Look, all joking aside, join me after the jump.

As a bit of backstory, I’ve been playing a lot of a MOBA called Vainglory, and been talking with a couple of the Devs, one of whom recently left Vainglory to work on Command & Conquer Rivals. Impressed with his previous work, and having loved the original C&C games, I decided to check it out and got myself into the Early Access.

Immediately, I shuddered a little at the realisation that it was published by EA, who have a history of their mobile games being ridiculously gated behind in app microtransactions. I haven’t fully forgiven them for the travesty that was the Dungeon Keeper mobile remake…

So it was that, as the app loaded and installed, I immediately looked to the shops and what real world money could get you. It’s actually not all that much, and the Devs have immediately nailed down on this concern by talking about their fairness policies. Essentially, yes, you can buy super powerful units and level things up to an overpowered state, but your unit strengths are capped in certain tiers until you progress. As long as I’m in lower tiers, my Free To Play units that I’m gradually levelling will be equally matched against an opponent who has pushed his all to level 12. Sure, when I advance to the next tier, that same opponent is going to have a lead as his units are still above the cap (and dropped to it) whereas mine are going to be just above the previous tier cap, but it’s not huge.

That’s comforting. I didn’t want to be stuck in a situation where I have to wait two days until something happens unless I pay $70+.

What about the game itself? Immediately, I’m dropped into a tutorial that starts teaching me the basics. One screen-sized map with each player’s base on either side and a missile silo in the middle. Control the missile silo to launch nukes at your opponent and win. That’s the basics. Different units have different strengths and weaknesses, infantry are slow and succeptible to small arms fire, but are cheap to build. Tanks pound enemy armour, but struggle against rocket launcher armed hordes and are expensive to build in comparison.

So, it’s now about resource management, knowing what to build and when, and micro-managing your forces movements to best engage. So far, so Command & Conquer.

It’s loyal to the original franchise with different commanders having different oerks,. Both factions (GDI and Brotherhood of Nod) are present with a good variety of asymmetrical balance and unit types, but whereas the original games could take hours to play as each player builds their defenses and pokes their opponent for weaknesses to capitalise on, these matches are fast-paced, frenetic, and perfect for mobile gaming.

Stealing control of the missile silo does not reset the timer, so tactically swooping in, sweeping enemies from the silo and stealing the launch with mere seconds to go is as thrilling to pull off as it is frustrating to have happen to you. It’s tense, and I found myself belly-laughing at it every time it happened, either way.

Most surprising is the netcode. It’s not like people plug their phones or tablets into their router, so a real-time game like this requires good netcode to ensure that ping is not the deciding factor in a game.

Noting that Overwatch on my PS4 runs at a steady (and unplayable) 250ms for me, resulting in a second or two of delay on abilities, CnC Rivals works beautifully. I had one major lagspike in a night of playing and the rest was smooth with no noticeable delay between tap and action.

It’s all still early access at this point, so it’s naturally all subject to change, but the game feels reminiscent of Square Enix’ “Go” series (Hitman Go, Deus Ex Go etc) in that it takes a console/pc gaming experience and distills it down to fit into a quick mobile gaming experience. The Devs seem to be aware of what the CnC franchise means to people and are carefully balancing this into a quick-fire pick-up-and-play experience that I can really see myself getting hooked on.

As time goes on, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one, and will keep writing my thoughts.

In the meantime, here’s a soundless (why does Android make it so hard to record in-app sound?) short video of my first PvP match out of the tutorial.

3 thoughts on “You Should Be Playing CnC Rivals

Add yours

  1. *Roll eyes*
    I love how practically every positive review for C&C Rivals has to have a part where the reviewer says “I love the old C&C for real, guise!” or “I hate EA just as much as you, guise!” Really, every time I see one of these, I immediately think of the “How do you do, fellow kids?” meme.

    So it was that, as the app loaded and installed, I immediately looked to the shops and what real world money could get you. It’s actually not all that much, and the Devs have immediately nailed down on this concern by talking about their fairness policies. Essentially, yes, you can buy super powerful units and level things up to an overpowered state, but your unit strengths are capped in certain tiers until you progress. As long as I’m in lower tiers, my Free To Play units that I’m gradually levelling will be equally matched against an opponent who has pushed his all to level 12. Sure, when I advance to the next tier, that same opponent is going to have a lead as his units are still above the cap (and dropped to it) whereas mine are going to be just above the previous tier cap, but it’s not huge.

    Bullshit-free translation: It’s pay to win, but you actually have to spend some effort after you pay. So, yay…?

    So, it’s now about resource management, knowing what to build and when, and micro-managing your forces movements to best engage. So far, so Command & Conquer.

    So Command & Conquer, except there’s absolutely no base building element, which is, you know, one of the defining features of the franchise? If you really liked C&C like you claim to, you would know what happened the last time they made a C&C game without base building.

    It’s loyal to the original franchise with different commanders having different oerks,.

    What the hell is “oerks”?

    but whereas the original games could take hours to play as each player builds their defenses and pokes their opponent for weaknesses to capitalise on

    Except that’s completely false. I’ve literally never seen a competitive 1v1 match that went over an hour. For any of the games. Every game after Generals has features like super weapons and support powers, which heavily discourage turtling.

    The Devs seem to be aware of what the CnC franchise means to people

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s a good one!

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    1. Hi, thanks for your comment! I normally wouldn’t respond to a comment that just rips apart my article without backing itself up, but I feel that I understand your concerns.

      Yeah, I get the “Fellow kids” meme, but seriously, if I had a “Swear Jar” for every time I’ve sworn at EA, of be rich (or super poor, depending on if I’ve reopened the jar yet). As a kid of the 90s, Dungeon Keeper was one of my favourite PC games and I was heartbroken to see what EA reduced it to. You don’t have to look far through my social media to find that I am not a fan of EA, but I personally choose to find positives and solutions, rather than having a pick axe and going salt mining.

      I spent weeks as an 8 year old going through CnC on PS1 and saved for weeks to get Red Alert on release. I had a crush on Tanya, but always missed the original series. Tiberian Sun was not perfect but I have so many happy memories of it. Don’t presume to know my childhood and act like I’m just saying it for effect. Why would I join an early access without reason? I don’t need to prove our validate my childhood to you.

      The Pay 2 Win aspect of many mobile games is exactly why I stopped playing so many of them (Skullgirls, Tekken, Mortal Kombat, these sit on my phone purely because I love the franchises, but I will never play them to a decent level – and most of the games installed are purchased with no further in game purchases necessary). I don’t mind paying for a game, I don’t mind supporting Devs, I don’t mind subscriptions for games like FFXIV, but I personally don’t want to support games where, ultimately, it’s not your skill or tactical ability that is in question, but the size of one’s wallet. My experiences, so far, backed up with a history in the gaming industry and understanding how game balance actually works, give me the impression that, whilst there is an amount of advantage to be gained from dumping your wallet into the game piecemeal, those people still have to work to actually utilise that and, due to the caps, it’s actually not a huge difference.

      If, as a new player, I can 2-0 a guy who comes at me with hover tanks and fully leveled units (looking at the replay data), then the P2W aspect is minor and, this is EA, microtransactions are always going to be here. Beyond that, you want the app for free, the Devs need to be paid somehow. Ugly truth, but I feel CnCR makes a decent compromise on this.

      Now for the nit picky stuff. “Oerks” is a typo of “perks”, sorry, as I stated at the start, I’m typing this on a Razer Phone. I try to keep typos to a minimum but this is a smalltime personal blog (thank you for being my first comment!!).

      It’s “completely false” only in your own experience. I never said competitive in regards to CnC, I have never actually watched any. I was talking about teenage me playing against friends in LAN parties. I was also talking about pre-Generals CnC. But sure, competitive may very well be different.

      Finally, the devs, the guys WORKING on it, not EA publishing it, ARE passionate about it. Sadly, it’s industry, the publishers are always going to make their own amendments and, ultimately, the final decisions come down to corporate suits. Look at Mortal Kombat X where Warner Bros clearly went through a completed game and arbitrarily cut out characters to add as paid DLC later. I don’t condone that, but don’t blame Devs who are passionate about a game ultimately being overridden by the guys who fund it.

      Anyways, normally I wouldn’t respond to salt mining, but you had some points I wanted to address and, as my first comment (again, thank you) I didn’t want to ignore you.

      In the end, you’re clearly a fan of the series and I’d suggest trying it out. I’ve not spent a dime on it yet, but if I do, it’ll be to support the Devs, not to get a minor edge that skill can more than compensate for anyways. Nobody at EA is paying me to write any of this (really reckon a guy who’s still using a WordPress subdomain is getting paid for this?), these are my genuine personal thoughts on the game and I’m more than happy to slate a game for bad practice and design (famously in a paid review of Evolve where I referred to it “less as evolution, more a genetic cul-de-sac”. I’m wary of how EA goes about this, but I’ve chosen to be positive, enjoy what I can and deal with any fallout later.

      I’d emplore you to do the same. Play a game, if you like it, awesome. If you don’t, uninstall. Ultimately, this game existing does not detract from the rest of the series (I still boot up Dungeon Keeper on PC from time to time) and if it becomes a hotbed for bad microtransaction practice, I’ll be uninstalling too, writing a piece about why, and moving on with my life.

      Again, thank you for your comment, and I hope I’ve addressed some of the points in a friendly, non-confrontational way. I’m just a dude with a love of gaming and a phone to type it out with.

      Like

      1. But as I’m also a bit of a sarcastic moron, I do want to point out, as you nailed my typo of “perks”, it’s spelled “guys”, not “guise”. A “guise” is an external form, appearance, or manner of presentation, typically concealing the true nature of something.

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