When EA announced that the next Command and Conquer game will be for mobile devices, the reactions weren’t the prettiest ever, to say least. We are certain some of the EA staff felt lucky to leave E3 with their legs unbroken. That general sentiment followed the development of the game, with people getting their torches and pitchforks ready for the riot upon publishing. Many fans were terrified by the idea of their favorite franchise being driven to the early grave by EA, so reactions were very passionate and very distraught. Imagine the reception of Diablo Immortal and multiply that by five. However, it seems that all those ominous predictions weren’t necessary, because Command and Conquer: Rivals is not a bad game at all.
Aside from the gameplay, Command and Conquer: Rivals took in some familiar mechanics you can find in many popular mobile games like Clash Royale. To fill your army with new units, you have to unlock crates. Those crates provide you with in-game currency and unit cards. These crates are won by playing matches, earning bounties and every few hours you’ll get some for free. Let’s be honest here, “Crates” is just a euphemism for loot boxes, and yes, you can purchase them with real-world currency, which unfortunately will give you an unfair advantage if you spend enough money. There’s also the option to join an alliance, where you and teammates can challenge each other, donate cards and talk some general smack.
The idea of a real-time strategy on mobile sounds ridiculous. Players cannot command armies and manage the base in Real-Time on 5″ screen, using only their thumbs. Amazingly, they actually did it. This game captures the essence of the true strategy experience and translates it into a mobile experience that works really well. In order to do that, they had to limit the number of elements you can control, at the same time not taking away too much competitiveness from the gameplay mechanics.
The base is now a single command center and the surrounding facilities are placed automatically once you select them. You can only take 6 types of units into battle with you, and each of them requires a specific building. Troops are trained at the barracks, vehicles emerge from the war factory, flying units from the helipad, and specialized units like the Titan and Zone Troopers require an expensive tech lab. The game also imposes a limit to the number of units you can have on the field, by limiting the number of times you can call the unit into the battle. The amount of time you have to spend waiting for the next unit increases with the number of the units, which consequently means that it’s rare for someone to have more than 6 of 7 active units at any time. The goal is, oh surprise, to destroy the enemy base. You do that by conquering the control points, which gives you points you need to launch a nuclear missile at the enemy base. You can attack the enemy base directly, but we reckon that nukes will be the preferable option for most of the people.
We’ll be honest with you, we started to play this game ready to hate it, mostly because we thought that EA will bury another franchise as they did numerous times before. Fortunately, it looks like that we were wrong, and we have never been so happy about being wrong. For once, EA did something right with their franchise and delivered a solid game with a dash of genius. This isn’t just a good mobile game, this is a good game generally. This gives us great hope for the upcoming C&C remasters and sequels.