I’m Still Playing Command & Conquer Rivals, Even Though I Hate It

I’m Still Playing Command & Conquer Rivals, Even Though I Hate It

Every now and again, gamers will come across this strange compulsion: the desire to continue playing something, while battling an almost constant internal monologue about how rubbish the game actually is.

I’ve had that experience playing, of all things, Command & Conquer: Rivals. I don’t know why it’s still installed on my phone, given my earlier distaste of the loot box system, RPG mechanics in an RTS, and the bizarre base-holding mechanic that prioritises position over destruction.

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There was plenty of scepticism when EA announced that the C&C RTS franchise was getting a mobile revival this year, and understandably so. Free-to-play mobile games have to walk a fine line, one that balances fairness with the financial realities of development. Too often games veer on the wrong side of that divide, funnelling players through systems that either tacitly or openly encourage them to spend money to stay on the right side of the power curve.

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The full experience is even worse than I’d hoped, after spending around twenty hours with the game split over many, many toilet breaks.

Let’s be blunt: there’s nothing quite as frustrating as getting slowly ground into submission because you haven’t been fortunate enough to open a loot box that contains the precise unit that actually has the counter you need.

More units in Rivals become available as you level up, although levelling up is based off a win/loss system. You’ll get more points for winning than losing, but the more you lose or run into opponents who are better equipped, the longer that takes. And when you do finally level up, you’re not automatically granted access to new units — you have to unlock those through loot boxes.

And that’s after having ground through the first four levels to unlock NOD in the first place. All matches were GDI on GDI affairs up until that point, and as anyone who’s spent a lengthy amount of time climbing competitive RTS ladders would know, mirror matchups are often the least interesting.

Once you do unlock NOD, you have to deal with the fact that your army composition is horrifically limited. You’re essentially playing with tier one units, with the exception of the Rockworm, which takes an age to burrow underground before rising up and obliterating infantry and heavily damaging vehicles nearby.

It takes much longer to level up from level 4 to level 5, so you’re spending much longer playing with the same army composition. Unless you ignore NOD entirely and continue messing about with GDI. But I made my C&C faction choice decades ago. The games were interesting because of NOD, because of the Russians, and the absurd tech the Allies/GDI had to invent to counteract that.

Of course I don’t want to play GDI. NOD might still be humans, but the toys they get to wield on the battlefield are infinitely more interesting. Why gate so much of it behind such a frustrating wall? And when you eventually hit an opponent who’s supposedly the same level as you, but starts deploying units and tricks you simply don’t have access to, I genuinely wonder why I bother.

But part of the reason why I persist is that there’s little else that provides that competitive RTS flair, without going down the MOBA route. Sure, Clash Royale has a huge scene and there’s no problem getting games. But it’s not the brand of strategy I want, and I don’t want to run the risk of getting into a 20 minute-plus game of Arena of Valor. After all, I don’t have that much time on the loo — and if I’m on the train, there’s zero chance I’ll be able to finish the game before hitting a mobile black spot.

So I continue with Rivals, despite my intense desire for literally anything else.

But what about yourselves: what games have you played despite having an active dislike of the content within?


  • Valkyria Revolution. God that game was execrable. I could tell with 30 seconds of playing it that it wasn’t the game I thought it was going to be. It’s my fault – I just assumed it would be more like the Valkyrie Chronicles series. It was not. I ended up hate-platinum trophying it. I don’t know why.

  • Hearthstone. I spent HUNDREDS of hours (and more money than I’d care to admit) on that game before I finally wised up and admitted “this game is honestly just plain shit”. Honestly, if the game wasn’t based on WoW and Blizzard didn’t have such good marketing (they’ve managed to persuade people that day is night and that massive unrestricted RNG deciding entire games is “fun”) it would just flop, like all the other much-better CCGs that have been crushed by its 500 pound gorilla ass. But since it IS a Blizzard game and those will always succeed by sheer dint of rabid fanboyism, it’s basically the ONLY digital CCG, with almost all the others just waiting to die.

    • I don’t feel that passionate about Hearthstone but I agree with your sentiment.

      Blizzard is very good at perfecting the RNG of their games to drip feed you what you feel you need.

      It’s not to say it can’t be enjoyable, but it’s just not my thing anymore.

    • This is how I feel about most Blizzard games. Any other dev would have been eviscerated over some of the design choices blizzard have made over the years.

      • I’m fed up with it to be honest.

        WoW: BfA is the most prominent example. It was shipped in a completely unfinished state and the design choices are 100% designed to fuck the playerbase over.

        Yet Blizzard gets a pass because… Blizzard.

      • My brother and I were reminiscing about old blizzard just yesterday. Man they were amazing at one point. Sc1 and brood war. Diablo 2 and warcraft 3 are all amazing games.
        They really have taken a turn for the worse lately.

  • I played Mount and Blade for way longer than i should have. The game mechanics were so simple and transparent but butchering hapless archers was just too much fun.

  • I have probably half a dozen or more games that could have a chance at GOTY in my pile shame, that I won’t get a chance to play for ages. Where do y’all find the time to play terrible games?

  • Marvel contest of champions / transformers forged to fight – the only reason I kept playing was for the mates aspect of it and them relying on you for alliance quest and war. Overall the content was repetitive and the lootbox system they have in place is seriously questionable

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