When I asked why they dropped the Generals name, as they overhauled the new Command & Conquer, I got an interesting response.
You see, it might not be called “Command & Conquer: Generals 2”, but at this current point in time, it might as well be. There’s a clear progression from the original title, with the various factions evolving through the ten years from the end of that game’s single player.
The GLA take on a much more global appearance, as opposed to the stereotypical pastiche of Middle Eastern terrorism from the original. The Chinese also return as the Asian Pacific Alliance, but the USA has stepped back from the world stage, as they came out of Generals’ story quite poorly. Instead the third faction, which does still hold onto the technological and specialised traits of the USA, are the EU.
It has also been recently announced that, although this will be a free-to-play title, EA have heard the fans clamouring for more single player content and this will be coming to the title. So we will see these factions put through the wringer once more, and hopefully deliver the true sequel to Generals which fans want.
It looks pretty good, too. Maybe it lacks some of the sparkle and pizzazz that we might have come to expect, given the original trailers and the use of the Frostbite engine, but at the same time it doesn’t necessarily need to push a PC with two Titan GPUs to the absolute maximum.
Aside from the very occasional moments where it takes a player’s fancy, most people will simply stay zoomed out to the maximum level to take into view as much of the battlefield as possible.
There is a pleasant level of detail still on offer, but it’s following the F2P model, and that means it will need to scale down to accommodate as many PCs as possible. Although this won’t reach integrated graphics at launch, they are working hard to optimise the engine as much as possible to allow this down the line.
The F2P model also dictates that some of the game content require you to grind and earn enough Command Points, or pay a few quid to get Victory Points. Each faction will have multiple generals to choose from, but some of this will need to be unlocked via either CP or VP. However, there are also perks which might improve various attributes of your army, which you can only unlock via Command Points, from playing the game, with the Victory Point exclusive unlocks being more to do with vanity and how your army looks.
So there are certainly two layers to the unlockable items in game, but it’s heavily stacked in favour of people who simply want to play, as there is nary a sniff of pay to win. Having said that, there is a Premium Membership, which can be bought to increase the rate at which you earn experience and CP, letting you unlock the game changing elements at a faster rate and not have to put quite as much time in to match the most dedicated players.
Yet all of this content will exist, living in the Generals universe, and this title isn’t being called Generals 2?
Simply, it’s because this is just a starting point. Getting C&C out of the door allows Victory Games to have a base framework on which to add more and more content.
They’re currently hurtling through closed alpha and beta towards an open beta, hopefully towards the end of this year. Following on from that there will be the full release and some of the promised single player content, but from here the path is clear to move from the Generals universe back to Tiberium and Red Alert; recreating those factions, maybe creating more single player content for them too, and who knows? Maybe they’ll let people pit the GLA against the Russians, even?
Unfortunately, I do fear that the free-to-play model will still leave a bad taste in many people’s mouths. At least Victory Games have been able to listen and refocus their attentions, to deliver the single player campaign that people will want, and then follow through on their plans to create the grandest and most all-encompassing Command & Conquer game yet.