Preview: Command & Conquer 4

February 11, 2010

I was excited to get my hands on the Command & Conquer 4 beta because I’ve loved playing the series for over a decade. At the same time though, I was worried about how well EA would be able to balance the game between the NOD and GDI sides of the game.

In Tiberium Sun, the Brotherhood was much more powerful than the GDI, and in Tiberium Wars the GDI outmatched NOD by almost the same amount. However, it seems that EA has finally figured out how to balance the two sides in Tiberium Twilight.

The two sides vary wildly in appearance but this time EA appears to have chosen to make the units for each side very similar in strength and weakness, similar to the way Warcraft balances units between very different races.

When it comes to the actual multiplayer system, Command & Conquer 4 is going with an experience and ranking system reminiscent of the one used by Modern Warfare. The more you play, and the better you are when you play, the more ranks you’ll gain. Each rank grants you more abilities or units in multiplayer matches. You’ll get experience points for destroying enemy troops and buildings during matches, with more points for stronger troops or buildings. Of course, the big experience gains are from killing your opponent’s command center or by unlocking achievements.

There are also three different command centers you can use: offensive, defensive, or support. Offensive command centers will allow you to produce mechs and tanks that focus, obviously, on offensive capabilities. Defensive ones will foxus on troops with more of a defensive focus, along with allowing you to produce defensive armaments around your command center. Finally, Support will allow you to produce an air force to support the offensive and defensive capabilities of your teammates.

This leads us to the focus of the multiplayer, which is an emphasis on team-based combat between a coalition of NOD forces and a group of GDI forces. A lower-ranking team can beat one with superior troops and abilities if they have great teamwork.

There were some drawbacks to the beta though, as EA really needs to finetune their matchmaking system. Too often I found myself on the wrong end of a mismatch. Facing down the highest tech troops and air forces with the most basic ones.

Overall though, the beta simply whet my appetite for more Command & Conquer goodness in just over a month from now.