Old-school strategy games shaped and modeled the genre forever, but it may be difficult to see them as revolutionary nowadays, especially if your gaming career doesn’t span that far into the past. Hence, there are things in modern RTS games that you take for granted, but they were regarded as brilliant back when they were first introduced by developers.
An open source version of the C&C games
The Command & Conquer series was among the pioneers of the genre and it certainly perfected the RTS formula everyone today knows and loves. OpenRA is an open source engine that attempts to bring back these games in a more modern package, although you shouldn’t misinterpret the term. In this case, modern means that it’s compatible with current computers, not that it sports new graphics or anything too fancy.
As such, the engine is actually capable of emulating gameplay in the style of Tiberian Dawn, Red Alert, and even Dune, given the fact that they all share a lot of common features. Hence, you can have all that in the shape of a single game, and you can enjoy it either against the AI or in multiplayer with friends. Furthermore, given its open source status, you are more than welcome to bring your own modifications and create your own content using the editor.
Build a base, gather resources, spend them on troops
That above is the golden trifecta of classic RTS, because that’s how it went in almost every case. In case you are not familiar with the C&C franchise, things are a tad different when it comes to base-building, because the structures are actually conceived somewhere off-screen and you only have to place them in the desired spot after they are completed.
The units you produce are basically the same as in the original games, so you can enjoy them as much as you did back in the day. Unfortunately, the pathfinding is a bit sketchy and it can get annoying at times, especially when you constantly have to nurse your units onto the right path. However, it’s all part of the fun and it’s a small price to pay, considering the circumstances.
A few modern improvements to diversify the experience
In the end, there are some modern features included as well, such as unit veterancy and fog of war, which were not available in the original games. However, OpenRA is about as faithful to its roots as possible and you can certainly enjoy your favorite old-school RTS with its help, even if it’s not exactly the same.