Another major addition is fully-integrated naval combat, which has been a tough challenge for the development team, aware that countless RTS games in the past have torpedoed the idea. Red Alert 3 cleverly achieves naval gameplay by what they describe as “blurring the shorelines”, basically making it much easier for players to get their units in and out of the water. Many of the units are now amphibious and all you have to do to utilise this ability is click where you want to move - the unit will automatically do a contextual transformation from land-based to ocean-based and vice versa. However, amphibious units are not as powerful as a dedicated land or sea unit, so the skill in combat comes in deciding which direction you want to go - flexibility or maximum firepower.
Your mobile construction yard is also amphibious, allowing you to build your base in the ocean, resulting in major ramifications for gameplay. If, for example, you only build land units and storm off to kill your opponent, you might find they’ve built their HQ out at sea, rendering your army a useless waste of money.
EA LA hopes this will encourage players to play more with the aircraft, which will be the only units able to locate and strike at targets on both land and in the ocean with equal power. Amphibious units can strike at ocean-based targets of course, but they’re not as powerful as aircraft.
Cleverly, there are significant resources out at sea, so even if you don’t build an ocean base, it’s wise to have a naval presence or you’re basically handing your opponent an enormous bag of money with “Please kill me!” written on in bold crayon. What’s more, all this messing about on boats has led to EA LA giving the water a new graphics engine so it ripples, shimmers and splashes like the real stuff.
After the revelations of the naval combat, Chris drops another bombshell: while previous RTS games have included special co-op missions, Red Alert 3 will include a finely crafted story-driven campaign that you can play in both single-player and online co-op. “Every single mission has been designed with you and a teammate in mind. But we obviously don’t want to leave people out if they haven’t any online friends, so you can also enlist the help of an AI co-commander.”
Every faction has three commanders, each with a unique play style and personality, played by an actor who will appear in video clips and voice-overs. So if you’re starting a Campaign mission with a co-commander who prefers tanks and heavy armor, you’ll probably approach how you go through that mission differently than if the co-commander you signed up was an expert in the air force. A monitor in the top-left of the screen allows you to see the AI’s state, with four orders available: attack or defend a unit or location, stop or help me. If you don’t give the co-commander guidance, the AI will do its own thing, depending on the situation and its personality.