Command & Conquer: Rivals Is More Than a Clash Royale Clone
When Electronic Arts revealed Command & Conquer: Rivals at their pre-E3 press conference, the game elicited plenty of groans, moans, and other negative reactions from fans. That type of reaction is all but inevitable when a storied franchise receives a mobile entry, though there is one big exception. That exception is when the mobile entry is announced alongside a new core entry in the franchise, as was the case with The Elder Scrolls: Blades and Gears Pop!.
It surely did not help that Rivals looks similar to Clash Royale, a game that has served as an inspiration for no shortage of other head to head strategy games. Though the resemblance is not as striking upon closer inspection as it is at first glance.
When looked from a distance, it’s easy to think of Command & Conquer: Rivals as just another Clash Royale-like. Both games are billed as head to head strategy titles, both involve the summoning of units using a constantly refilling energy pool, and in both games those units can be powered up by using duplicate cards found in loot crates.
Where the game differs from the king of the genre is in its gameplay. Though Rivals is still all about building a deck of units to summon in battle and then executing your strategy, the objectives and actual gameplay mechanics are quite different. Unlike Clash Royale and games similar to it, Rivals uses a grid based battlefield where each unit moves from one hexagonal tile to the next. And unlike other head to head strategy games, players are tasked with directing the action and not just summoning their units and depending on the AI to do the rest. That means the player has direct control over each unit’s movement, though units fire at any enemy within range.
The objectives of Rivals are also quite different. While destroying your enemy’s base is still the main goal, the means of destruction are not the same. Instead of attacking the base directly, players are tasked with securing and controlling a missile launch facility that will launch a powerful missile at their enemy’s base. That makes for a fundamentally different experience than any other head to head strategy game on mobile.
The combination of controllable units and a capture and hold objective make for a mobile experience that stands out. However it’s still hard to deny the similarities the game has to other titles in the genre and strategy game enthusiasts will never feel comfortable with loot crate mechanics that can upset the balance of a match.
It remains to be seen whether Command & Conquer: Rivals will have what it takes to be successful, and the game’s success will depend as much on marketing as it will on the quality of the game itself. That being said, it’s clear that announcing the game at a pre-E3 event has brought a lot of negative attention on the game and could have been handled very differently.