Command & Conquer: Legions hands-on - "C&C's skin snugly fits the mobile MMORTS formula"

Command & Conquer: Legions hands-on - "C&C's skin snugly fits the mobile MMORTS formula"

Command and Conquer is back as Command & Conquer Legions, a modern twist on the genre-defining, real-time strategy. The modern twist clearly outlines the target audience: modern mobile gamers. We played some of it while at Gamescom earlier this year and found it to do exactly what it sets out to do.

When people think of modern mobile strategy games, they quickly think of the alliance and clan-based gameplay you get with the likes of State of Survival and Rise of Kingdoms; When people think of Command & Conquer though, they think of the Golden Age of RTS the series kickstarted, running from 1993 through to 2001. That time period covered the first GDC vs Nod outing through to Yuri's Revenge, the super-cool, third third faction spin on Red Alert 2. Some people speak fondly about Generals, the series' first foray into 3D, but after that, it becomes harder to pin down the now-EA-operated RTS genre's fans. Kane, GDI and the Brotherhood of NOD continued to exist in games, but it was a far cry from when the industry raced to include base-building in the bigger titles to try and capture C&C audiences.

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The new, EA-licensed, Tencent-published, Level Infinite (a Tencent O&O studio) developed effort certainly isn't going to appease anybody still longing for the Command & Conquer of the 90s. This entry isn't for them, not least because - like it or not - '93 was thirty years ago. No, Command & Conquer: Legions is a mobile MMORTS wearing the IP & skin of Command and Conquer Tiberian Twilight.

What does that mean, though? Well, for a start, those who dabbled with the Tiberian Series, especially its later entries, will recognise elements here. The team at Level Infinite are fans of the series and of its visual identification, so GDI and NOD units, insignia and colouring are present. CABAL and The Scrin feature too, although arguably the focus is on resource capture and map control.

Something New

That - map control - is where alliance play comes into it, and that's really the core of the Command & Conquer: Legions experience. Much like those titles I mentioned earlier, players here will gather officers, build up a small, upgradeable base and join alliances. Each of the familiar units is divided into rock-paper-scissors, tier-ranked categories, but mechs (which do feel somewhat at home here, at least) are also slipped into the fray.

Officers, your hero units, lead your real-team map exploration and combat, ultimately levelling up and unlocking abilities from a web of skills by using talent points. It's something that'll be incredibly familiar for people already playing the genre. However, the combat does feel more responsive than that of its contemporaries. That said, there are a few things that Legions does that make it stand out from the bunch.

The biggest change is the alliance play. While its foundations will feel incredibly familiar, there is no 'flag' or 'waypoint' play here, with the territories shifting dynamically based on capture points, combat and alliance base placement. The map moves in real-time, with the borders shifting in perhaps the most impressive way we've seen in the genre yet.

Command & Conquer: Legions fits right into the mobile MMORTS genre, despite the IP's oldest fans

What more is there to say? Well, it's pretty. It's clear that a lot of attention has gone into the art and design, with all of the heroes different enough and stylised in a way where you know what they're going to be good at. The current voicework feels a little wooden… uncanny, especially when browsing the heroes; the OST seems limited, with overworld music becoming repetitive quite quickly, although it must be said that most mobile gamers play with the audio off.

Nitpicks aside, Legions seems incredibly well-made and is clearly building on the shoulders of giants. The only thing is, those giants are mobile strategy giants and not the series that it takes its name from. We're excited, it's going to be big, and if the storyline, alliance play and cross-server combat are done well then Command & Conquer: Legions will be a game that people are playing for years to come.

Dann Sullivan
Dann Sullivan
A job in retail resulted in a sidestep into games writing back in 2011. Since then Dann has run or operated several indie game focused websites. They're currently the Editor-in-Chief of Pocket Gamer Brands, and are determined to help the site celebrate the latest and greatest games coming to mobile.