EA and developer Phenomic are taking the Command & Conquer series in a completely new direction with Command & Conquer Tiberium Alliances. For starters, Tiberium Alliances is a browser-based and free-to-play. Billed as a MMO strategy title, senior producer Martin Lohlein explains that his team is trying to broaden the Command & Conquer experience. “What we’re looking at, is an experience which is spread across the day in small session,” says Lohlein.
Set between Command & Conquer 2 and 3, players will choose between the GDI and NOD factions. After selecting a starting point for your base, you’ll begin to learn the basics of base building through the in-game tutorial. Everything is simple at first. You’ll build some harvesters, watch them gather Crystals and Tiberium for a while – and start building some more advanced structures.
But as you continue playing, the game really picks up. Soon, you’ll be re-arranging the placement of your various buildings to maximize the number of bonuses you’ll receive by keeping certain buildings and units close to each other. You’ll start looking towards building up your army and leveling up your units as you start attacking camps springing up from the Forgotten. As a new player, you won’t have to worry about other players attacking your own base. But after a few days, you’ll start seriously considering how to better your defenses for the inevitable attacks to come.
The clock is always ticking in Command & Conquer Tiberium Alliances. In one minute and twenty seconds, I’ll have earned another Command Point, which can be used to attack a nearby camp for some extra resources and a Supply Crate. In the meantime, one of my Tiberium Silos has filled up, which will give me resources to spend on an upgrade I’ve been waiting to purchase to improve my production of Energy – and in ten minutes and forty-three seconds, I should have enough Energy to upgrade my Pitbull vehicle that will do extra damage to buildings, which brings me back to that Command Point I’ve been waiting for. Finally, I can launch my attack against that nearby camp – but once that’s over, I’m certain that all the tickers counting down the time to my next round of resource and bonus collection payoffs will grab my attention. This is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night!
Before launching an attack, you’ll be able to see your enemy’s base and you’ll have to do your best to place your attacking army units accordingly either to maximize damage to the defender’s army, or the base behind their line of defense, or a mix of both. Once you click to begin your attack, your army presses forward fighting and clashing with enemy defenders or buildings in the base itself.
Spread throughout the world map are Forgotten camps and outposts, which become more heavily fortified with increasingly higher rewards for razing them as you get closer to the center of the map. Eventually, you’ll need to partner up with other players to form alliances to take on these tougher bases and also to protect yourself from attacks from other players.
And this is where balance for different gameplay styles comes into play. If another player destroys your base, you’ll have to relocate your base. It’s not fun to have your base destroyed, but it’s fairly easy to recover from a defeat while you are away. But as the more hardcore players in larger more organized alliances press forward towards the center of the map for the bigger challenges and rewards, more casual players who prefer PvE will find their bases creeping outward, where it’s safer.
Above: Here's a look at combat against a base that belonging to an NPC from the Forgotten faction. Forgotten camps will be more challenging to destroy and will yield more rewards as you push towards the center of the map
At its core, Tiberium Alliances shares a lot of common ground with Facebook games, giving you lots of options to click on and think about while waiting for various timers to cool down. But in spirit, it really does feel like a Command & Conquer game in terms of the look of the units, and amount the amount of depth available to customize your base structure and army.
Phenomic is also working on a Tiberium Alliances mobile app. “We have this mobile front end in early testing at this time,” explains Lohlein. “At the core, it’ll still run in the browser. What we plan to do is do apps which actually handle caching for you. But effectively, the app will also run the game in the browser.”
Tiberium Alliances really does show its strength when played here and there throughout the day in fifteen to twenty minute play sessions – and since we started playing the closed beta, it’s never been far from our minds and almost always open in a browser tab. Trust us it’s incredibly addicting once you get through the tutorial. Or don’t! The game has just entered the open beta stage, so you can head to the official site to try it for yourself right now.