COMMANDCOM REPORT - PART 2
<< Click here to read part 1 of the report
Saturday began with an absolutely heaving convention centre, I was glad that CommandCOM was taking place in the private suite in a different wing, generating an excitement and hubub of our own without shoulder barging and queuing for hours!
Campaign and Story by Sam Bass
- Tiberian Twilight will conclude the Kane-Nod-GDI sage, but it is not the end of Tiberium.
- Since the middle of 2008 Sam has been working on the story, composing an 9-page document planning it out. Making it his personal goal to do it well.
- The storyline follows on from the Tiberium Catalyst explosion which has doomed humanity, Sonic Disruptor technology is no longer sufficient to hold back the spread of Tiberium and humanity is given a few years to live.
- Kane proposes an alliance as we witnessed in the teaser trailer, using the Tacitus to save Earth. This was a successful but uneasy alliance; certain factions within Nod questioning Kane's motivations and departments of GDI untrusting of their former enemy.
- The game starts several years following this as the Tiberium Control Network nears completion.
- The GDI campaign is currently called “To Kill Kane” which seems self explanatory. It will have a moving, emotional ending whilst being more accessible for newcomers to the storyline.
- The Nod campaign “All Things Must End” will provide a satisfying conclusion to the story arc for us long-term fans.
- We will discover the truth behind Kane's plans, it will question whether our actions in the GDI campaign were really 'doing the right thing' and we will get to know Kane better.
- The cinematics will be less monologue 'talking-head' based than recent games and contain much more movement.
- Taking a leaf from Tib Sun's book the missions are set on board the 'Global Stratospheric Transport' a ship that is capable of sending the Crawler down to Earth. This allows you to feel nearer the action instead of travelling all the way back to GDI HQ after each mission.
- We were then shown a video of the set (principle photography is already nearing completion!) and a large set has been constructed allowing the camera to move throughout.
- We were shown a sample cut-scene of our character being released from a prison whilst another inmate was tazered off-camera (you could hear his screams). It certainly represents a return to the series' dark origins. Think Dead Space/Alien.
- In previous games the camera was largely static in the same position throughout the campaign and other characters addressing you were also standing still for the most part. In C&C4 the camera will move through the set, down corridors, swing round to reveal new characters talking to you etc. It will be much more engaging, exciting and realistic.
- The newsreaders have been replaced with citizen journalism via the 'Aggregator Hub'. This interface that should ultimately mimic the in-game UI will flash up You Tube style footage and blog reports to further connect you to events on the ground.
Campaign Mission Design
- In previous games the campaigns were heavily scripted; go here, do this, destroying a certain structure triggers the next objective etc. Forced you to play the mission how the designer wanted, allowed for exploitation (build up of massive armies to steamroll the next objective).
- Tib Twilight missions will be far less linear and allow for alternate strategies. Heavier reliance on the enhanced AI to adapt to your strategies rather than sending x buggies and y scorpions every 4 minutes.
- Choice lies with the player, not the designer. Open Plan missions with less hand-holding
- AI respects line of sight, fog of war and has to scout to find your location!
- The tech-tree is no longer limited per-mission, but based upon what you have unlocked with your XP.
- All classes will be fun to play each mission.
- Co-op is available, but singleplay will not team you up with a useless AI commander like Red Alert 3. The difficulty is ramped up in co-op instead.
- There will be no Command-only missions as it doesn't suit the game's new playing style.
- Fewer missions than Tib Wars, but higher quality and more replayable.
Game Design by Jason Bender
Next Jason took time to explain the most controversial topic of Tiberian Twilight; the new gameplay mechanic.
- More accessible, NOT dumming down
- Resolve common newbie pitfalls such as only creating a single harvester.
- Stopping newbies 'getting served' in their first online game and never returning.
- Tiberium is the victory condition in multiplayer (capturing TCNs) not a resource. Resources are command points and construction time.
- The combat chain is all about hard counters; specific weapon type is effective against specific armour type.
- There will be counters for all levels. Jeremy Feasal (the best internal player) at level one can beat four less skilled level 40 players! For example there is a laser unit that can counter the Masterdon (obviously you need a number of them).
- The type of weapon a unit can be seen; the designers spent time ensuring the design was distinctive, so all nod lasers look the same and fairly similar to GDI lasers.
- GDI XP points separate from Nod. So you can max out on GDI, but stay at level 1 for Nod. Will need to play as Nod to level up.
- XP can be spent on any class, so you can focus as support player for example, or spread across all classes.
Multiplayer - Domination Mode
So we got an hour to play the multiplayer 5v5 mode; domination. Around the map are Tiberium Control Nodes; 5 in this case. The objective is to capture and hold as many as possible, this is done by having more units in the vicinity than your enemy. Each team begins with 1000 points which are subtracted if you control fewer TCNs, when the counter reaches 0 then you lose a la Battlefield.
We played Support and Offense classes with only Tier 1 units, no Defence class yet. The mechanic forces you to get out there and stuck into the action, with no defence class currently there is no option to turtle and build up a force. Right from the word go you churn out a few fast units, send them to start capturing nodes, pack up the crawler and follow them.
This really is completely different from previous games; it's defiantly faster, more fluid and intense. But then again the ladder season champions always play short matches, rarely teching up beyond tier 1, so that's nothing new. But it still feels like a C&C game and not something else; the atmosphere, unit design, even down to the sounds.
Due to the lack of time we had to play and its pre-alpha development stage (compare against 12 hours and late-alpha at the RA3 summit last year) I can't really give a definite answer on whether it's good and what the longevity is like. I will say, however, that it was certainly enjoyable to play.
The last meeting of the event the developers faced the firing squad with over 100 community members of the series' most hardcore fans, some more information emerged:
- Thanks to ditching Gamespy and using its own in-house system, C&C4 will be able to detect disconnectors, thanks in part to the always online system. Now instead of guessing, or ineffectively assigning disconnect stats, the game will know who pulled the cable and penalise them accordingly.
- Disconnects = Loss and the player will not gain any XP
- Even if you lose, staying until the end of the match will earn XP; you must have built something or killed at least one unit during a match surely!?
- If a member of your team disconnects they will be replaced by a very competent AI player. The developers experimented with giving you their units or increasing your command points, but this worked out best.
- The multiplayer was described by some as World In Conflict-style.
- In the feedback session at the end of the weekend the lack of base building and blowing big stuff up was highlighted as something that is currently missing, and the lack of satisfaction when destroying an enemy crawler. These are both being seriously considered
- …as is some sort of offline mode
- The dev's rather shot themselves in the foot with their argument that most LAN parties have an internet connection and therefore a LAN mode is unnecessary. During CommandCOM connection problems meant that I could only play 1 multiplayer game against people in the same room as me, and some unfortunates didn't get the chance to play at all.
- A console version has not been ruled out
And with that, the presentations were over, time for the ladder season finals between Dynamic and Technique and a party at the EA Sports bar at EA Germany. The beer was free and flowing, so naturally I got very snap happy. There are loads more photos in my CommandCOM gallery. The next morning, feeling rather delicate I made my way to the airport. On my flight home I rather awesomely was sharing an aeroplane with Joe Kucan, Jason Bender, Sam Bass and Mike Glosecki. Kane flies business class of course whilst the rest of us sat like plebs a few rows behind...on the two hour flight.
I must say a massive thanks for Apoc for organising this massive and epic event, and to the kind event sponsors Acer and Logitech for making it possible. See you next year everyone! ;)