When Command and Conquer: Rivals was first announced during E3 2018, fans of the series were not pleased at all. And to be fair, who could blame them? Factoring EA’s less than stellar track record and the direction the industry is taking, one would easily dismiss this as some sort of low-quality cash grab.
The game is finally out, and given that it is our job to try out stuff out, we figured we would give this a fair shake at least. First and foremost, Command and Conquer: Rivals is not the game you or perhaps even your parents, grew up with. If that matters to you, stop reading right now and know that a remaster is on its way.
Unlike its predecessors, Command and Conquer: Rivals play a lot more like Clash Royale and similar competitive strategy games where your experience will be fully PVP-based. As you harvest Tiberium to build up your resources, you will have train units and gain control of a missile silo in the middle of a map.
The objective is to hold control points long enough so that you are able to launch a nuke at your opponent’s base. Do this twice and the match is won. The option to directly attack the enemy base is there and it does add an element of surprise. Whichever tactic you resort to, the matches are fast and frantic.
As with previous installments, units are designed on a rock-paper-scissors basis. Each of them are strong against certain types and weak versus others. It will be up to you to mix and match accordingly when facing your human opponent. Understanding the basic RTS concepts such as resource management and microing will be key here.
The game lets you only play as the GDI, and you will unlock the Brotherhood of Nod upon hitting level 9. There is no stamina system to speak of, so you can grind your way in a day if you so choose. Of course, the experience gained diminishes quickly, so you can only do much so much.
Since we are on that topic, let us address the monetisation mechanics in this game. While spending moolah will certain speed up progress, it does not grant you an overwhelming advantage over a free user. The key to victory lies more in your tactical prowess than unit strength. That is to say that the game is fairly balanced for the most part.
As such, to EA’s credit, it made an attempt to at least make the experience much more accommodating and less predatory than you might expect. This point alone makes Command and Conquer: Rivals more enjoyable than offerings by its big counterparts. One could say that perhaps EA is looking at the bigger picture with plans of nurturing a fanbase than squeezing them dry right off the bat.
As a standalone title, Command and Conquer: Rivals is one of the better offerings in the genre. It is very accessible and fair enough to warrant your attention if you like these sort of games. That said, this is unlikely to be the experience you are after if you are expecting something akin to a traditional Command and Conquer experience.