Last year's excellent real-time strategy sequel Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars was something of a return to the long-lived strategy series' roots. The game went back to the classic struggle between the fictitious GDI and Brotherhood of Nod factions in a brand-new story that took place on a futuristic Earth invaded by ruthless aliens. In addition to building in the kind of fast-moving real-time strategy gameplay that players might expect from a Command & Conquer game, the development team at EALA also went out of its way to craft an in-depth sci-fi story told onscreen by Hollywood talent such as Billy Dee Williams and Michael Ironside, as well as by former writer Joe Kucan, better known as Kane. The game also shipped with community tools to encourage serious competitive play, including real-time spectating tools and the ability to provide commentary on live matches. And now, the game is set to expand both on the PC and the Xbox 360 with Kane's Wrath, a new expansion that will add more gameplay, more units, and a unique new interface for the Xbox 360 version. We sat down with EALA executive producer and vice president Mike Verdu for more details.
GS: Why did the team decide to create an expansion pack for Command & Conquer 3, rather than go off in a different direction or even start work on a full-fledged sequel?
MV: An expansion pack felt like the right next step for us. We have a great story to tell, one that builds on the foundation established in Command & Conquer 3 and in previous games. We also wanted to give players a new strategic layer for our classic fast, fluid, and fun Command & Conquer gameplay, add some cool features, and introduce a bunch of new units and structures. Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath is a natural extension of Command & Conquer 3 in many ways, but it also adds some things which are truly new.
GS: Give us an overview of what we can expect to see from the expansion pack. New units for each faction? A new playable faction? What's the main focus of the expansion?
MV: Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath features a new single-player campaign with a fresh story, a new set of live-action sequences with a celebrity cast, a new way to play Command & Conquer, and a wealth of new units, structures, and powers.
I'm particularly excited about the story and the campaign, where we will bridge the gap between Tiberian Sun and Command & Conquer 3, expand on what actually happened during the Third Tiberium War, and then take players into the future--after the events of Command & Conquer 3's story. The arc of this story is epic in scope and the chapters set just after Tiberian Sun will give longtime fans of the series something special.
When it comes to gameplay, our new "global domination" mode is the big story. Imagine a strategic layer added to the classic RTS game play that lets you wage war across the entire planet. We're also introducing subfactions with new units and structures for each of the sides in Command & Conquer 3--the Global Defense Initiative, the Brotherhood of Nod, and the alien Scrin. Each subfaction favors unique strategies and styles of play. It's also worth noting that we've answered the call of many fans to bring back hover technology to GDI and cyborgs to Nod.
If that weren't enough, we've chosen to use the Xbox 360 version of Kane's Wrath as the platform for our next-generation console RTS controls. We will debut a new in-game interface and control scheme that makes playing Command & Conquer on [a] console even more fun.
There's a lot of cool stuff...and we can't wait for fans to get their hands on this expansion.
GS: We recall that one of the team's main objectives with the original game was telling an in-depth story. How will the expansion continue the original game's story? Can we expect to see any of the Hollywood talent return for the expansion pack?
MV: Our campaign will span an incredible 20 years of Command & Conquer history, taking players from the end of Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun all the way through 2050 (three years after the events of Command & Conquer 3). As mentioned, the story will once again be told through high-definition, full-motion video sequences with Joe Kucan reprising his role as Kane. A new celebrity cast will join Joe. We'll reveal details in the coming months.
Players will get to experience Kane's rise to power after the terrible events of the Second Tiberium War, learn what happened behind the scenes during the events of Command & Conquer 3, and then plunge into a new conflict with very high stakes in the years after the Third Tiberium War.
GS: What can you tell us about the new single-player content in the expansion? Will there be new campaigns for each side?
MV: You'll play through this campaign in a whole new way. We're combining high-level strategy with the tactical gameplay that is classic for Command & Conquer. You'll establish vast bases, build customized armies, plan your strategy, and attack your enemies on a global scale--then dive into the familiar tactical battles where your skills as commander will make the difference between victory and defeat. It's a new way to play Command & Conquer.
After you play through the campaign, you can fight the Third Tiberium War your own way. Customize the map of the world with your own combat scenario and then play through the resulting campaign using any of the three factions. World domination has arrived.
GS: Could you tell us about the new multiplayer enhancements that the expansion pack will add?
MV: Kane's Wrath will continue the fast and fluid multiplayer that was established by Command & Conquer 3. Thanks to the new subfactions, players will have nine sides to choose from in multiplayer and skirmish games. We're especially eager to see the types of strategies teammates create as they begin to mix and match these different subfactions. Along with the new faction content, we'll be adding over two dozen multiplayer maps from environments across the globe.
GS: It also seemed like the team was pushing hard to establish the game as a community-driven, competitive multiplayer game with the "BattleCast" features. Now that the game has been available for some time, how has the community responded to the replays and commentary system from the original game, and are any new enhancements for this system being added in the expansion?
MV: We're continuing to introduce improvements to the multiplayer experience--for both the game and the Web site--in a series of patches to the base game. We have some exciting things coming in the next few months and we're not holding things back for the expansion. We'll continue to work hard over the next few months to enhance the multiplayer experience.
That being said, the new subfactions, maps, units, structures, and powers will add a ton of strategic depth to the game's multiplayer component.
GS: We understand that the Xbox 360 version of the expansion will feature an all-new interface with a radial menu. Could you explain how this new interface will work?
MV: We couldn't be more excited about the radial interface. The new system allows for players to easily control their build queues, powers, and abilities all from the left analog stick. Players can now manage unlimited production queues from anywhere on the map, so no more scrolling around the battlefield searching for that second or third war factory. [The team has] been amazed by the increase in speed and accessibility. This feels like a big step forward in the evolution of console controls for RTS games.
GS: We imagine the PC version of the expansion will ship by itself onto store shelves, but how will it be made available to Xbox 360 owners? Will the expansion be a separate Xbox 360 product, will it come packed with the original game, or will it be downloadable from Xbox Live, perhaps?
MV: The Xbox 360 version of Kane's Wrath will be available on store shelves. It's an expansion pack for Command & Conquer 3, but you won't need the base product to play it.
GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about the Command & Conquer 3 expansion pack?
MV: We've had a blast creating a story and single-player campaign that draws from events spanning the entire history of the Tiberium universe. The combination of this story and the new strategic layer is going to provide for an incredible campaign experience. I'm happy to say that the new units are already fun to play with (as we test on-team), and multiplayer fans are going to love the versatility of the new subfactions. We hope that longtime Command & Conquer players and newcomers alike will have an awesome time with this expansion pack.
GS: Thanks, Mike.