- Sep 26, 2002
Command & Conquer: Generals 2 First Details
A beloved strategy game returns. Built with Frostbite 2, only on PC.
The next step in the Command & Conquer franchise will have nothing to do with Kane or Red Alert's war bears. Instead, Electronic Arts is returning to the slightly more realistic Generals brand, which we haven't heard much about since the Zero Hour expansion back in 2003. To learn more about this PC exclusive real-time strategy sequel, in development at the rebranded BioWare Victory studio, we had a chance to ask BioWare co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka and executive producer Jon Van Caneghem a few questions via email.
IGN: It's been quite a while since the Generals offshoot of Command & Conquer has been in the spotlight. Why now, and why Generals in particular if the goal was to again tap into the C&C brand?
Jon Van Caneghem: We looked at each of the different universes in the franchise and thought a return to Generals was long overdue. The original game is actually the best-selling game in the series and its one our community has been asking for. And when we took a closer look, we were really attracted to the near future time period and the themes we could explore and the project went from there.
IGN: How does Generals 2 differ from what fans remember of the first one? Does it still involve the traditional RTS mechanics of base building and army management?
Jon Van Caneghem: One of our main goals is to bring C&C back to the roots that have made it one of the most popular and beloved properties in the strategy genre and that revolves around the core gameplay. The player is the General and it's up to them to create and take control of these huge, massive armies. We're definitely bringing some new elements to the table as well, but it's very important for us to bring C&C back to its foundation and that's through action-packed gameplay that also requires you to be cerebral.
IGN: What's the story setup for Generals 2, and does it tie into the first one at all?
Jon Van Caneghem: Generals 2 takes place ten years after the events in Generals. At the beginning the world is actually at peace. There's a huge conference where a landmark peace treaty is about to be signed. But moments before that happens, a terrorist attack takes away all of the leaders in attendance. The only leaders who are left are the generals and that's where you come in. We have three factions in the game, the GLA, the EU and one more we aren't revealing – yet!
IGN: What does this project mean for the BioWare brand? Will there be role-playing elements incorporated into the single-player campaign? Or is BioWare now a brand for all kinds of different genres, not just role-playing games both online and off?
Ray Muzyka: Our vision at BioWare is to create, deliver and evolve the most emotionally engaging games in the world – this works across multiple genres. We can achieve that vision in different genres and on different platforms, whether they be PC games like Command and Conquer: Generals 2, HD console or PC titles like Mass Effect or Dragon Age, traditional MMOs like Star Wars: The Old Republic, on social networks, or play-for-free MMOs like Warhammer: Wrath of Heroes on PC, or on mobile phones and tablets. For Generals 2, we're definitely going to apply that vision in a way that makes sense for this genre and for the C&C series and not necessarily like anything we've done before.
IGN: How big is BioWare Victory? How long has Generals 2 been in development and why is there no console version?
Jon Van Caneghem: Our studio was founded earlier this year and we became part of the BioWare label this summer. We are located in multiple studios, but the core team is based in Los Angeles and comprised of team members who have worked on previous C&C games, shooters, action games, and RPGs. We are also huge fans of the strategy genre.
The reason we are focusing on the PC for Generals 2 is that we really wanted to re-establish C&C as one of the premier properties in the genre. It felt right to start back where it all began.
IGN: What does building the game using Frostbite 2 allow for in gameplay terms?
Jon Van Caneghem: Frostbite 2 is an incredibly powerful piece of technology. Not only are we going to be able to raise the bar in terms of the level of fidelity for the genre, it's also going to allow us to make the whole experience more intense. Players are going to command massive armies on a battleground that is fully destructible.
Ray Muzyka: The Frostbite 2 technology also allows us to create high quality, in-engine cinematics that flow seamlessly with the gameplay, to help increase the immersion and emotional engagement for the player as they experience the story.
IGN: Would you say Generals 2 is more of a multiplayer game or more of a single-player game? Are you building it to be an e-sports style of title?
Jon Van Caneghem: We're focusing equal efforts on both single player and multiplayer. You definitely need both to be competitive in the genre. On the single player side, we're building a campaign that allows you to experience this new war from multiple perspectives. We've got some great plans for multiplayer but aren't going into any details at this time. I'll just say there's going to be a lot more variety than you typically see.
IGN: What are some of the strengths of the real-time strategy genre in your mind, and what are some of the weaknesses you're hoping to address with Generals 2? What do you think you can bring to the franchise that is uniquely BioWare?
Ray Muzyka: There have been a lot of amazing games in the strategy genre over the years – I'm personally a huge fan of the genre. I think the best games have been the ones that have been accessible, which helped bring in a much larger audience, but also challenging to master, which helped create a lot of retention, passion and core community-building around different franchises. Over the years we've seen different attempts to move the genre in different directions and I think that may have caused things to drift from that core gameplay philosophy of driving gameplay that's fun and fast paced, yet always strategic. That's ultimately the foundation we're working off of for Generals 2, while also innovating in new areas and adding some of the things BioWare is known for with interactive storytelling (delivered in an appropriate way for the genre, which is critical) and always driving for high quality.
We know there are a lot of Command & Conquer fans out there and we're looking forward to bringing them back to the Generals universe.
IGN: Thanks for your time.