Command & Conquer: The future of the three universes

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I’ve never given much thought to the universe of Command & Conquer: Generals. Where the Tiberium and Red Alert universes are ridiculous, over-the-top, B-movie fodder with oodles of lore and larger than life characters, Generals was comparatively plain. But it’s also the least explored part of the franchise, making it a perfect place for Victory Games to put their own mark on the series.

We had a chat with Tim Morten, Victory’s senior development director, about the studio’s plans for the three very different settings and fan expectations after the disappointment that was Command & Conquer 4.

“I think C&C 4 did away with some of the quintessential RTS mechanics, particularly base building,” Morten says. “Personally, I tend to be a builder as a player, and the strategy behind the construction order and placement are all things that are pretty essential to RTS and were lost in C&C 4.” Command & Conquer 4 is the only title in the series I’ve barely touched. The dramatic shift to fast, online play and lack of a solid truely single-player experience just did nothing for me.

Morten says that he understands the impetus for taking that path, but it’s not something fans want. “There was a reason they went that route: to be more of a quicker pick up and play game. But the fan reaction to that was largely negative, and it really created some baggage that we’re still addressing with the series.”

While the Generals universe is the team’s focus for the forseeable future, Victory has the freedom to work on new Command & Conquer titles across all three universes. “Our hope, longer term, is going back to Red Alert and Tiberium, to expand on those universes here at EA. We’ve got some new ideas, like new universes within the umbrella of C&C.” Command & Conquer: American Civil War, anyone?

But will these disparate settings remain seperate? Morten tells us that it’s still being worked out. “There’s a debate going on right now. Do they stay completely separate, which by default there will be separate areas and stories for them. But do we create a mode that also lets you ‘what if’ the ultimate battle between different universes. Maybe have it in as a secondary unlock.”

Morten acknowledges that Tiberium, Red Alert and Generals were not designed to interact, and he doesn’t want the community to feel like Victory has “violated the sanctity of the universes”. I confess that I’m not at all convinced that there exists a type of person who considers any of the settings sacred. Telekinetic Communists, World War II time travelling shenanigans, world destroying super weapons and alien invasions – Command & Conquer contains just about every sci-fi B-movie trope that there is, so would wars across parallel universes really be too silly?

Personally, I’d love to see Nod go toe-to-toe with the Red Army.