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Red Alert 3

retains the core RTS mechanics of the Command & Conquer series. Warring factions harvest resources using vulnerable collectors and then use those resources to construct military bases and forces on-site. Structures form a shallow but wide tech tree with a variety of units and elusive superweapons. Weapon types are specialized to the point where a rifleman can withstand direct hits from an anti-tank cannon. Red Alert 3′s major refinements are the addition of the Empire of the Rising Sun to the factions of the sub-series, similar to what Tiberium Wars did with the Scrin faction, a co-operative campaign, and expanded naval warfare.

The “single-player” campaign is now fully co-operative. Each mission is played alongside an ally. When you play online, this is another human player, whereas if you play offline, one of several computer-controlled characters will be your ally. Teams share income and generally start with the same forces. Computerized characters can be given extremely simple commands, such as an order to take a specific position or to strike a specific target. The campaign has nine missions for each side. Each side’s plotlines are mutually exclusive, unlike Tiberium Wars and its preceding and following expansion packs, but like the rest of the Command & Conquer series.

Naval warfare is emphasized as another front. Executive producer Chris Corry has stated that many units are now amphibious, trading effectiveness for increased flexibility. Buildings and entire bases can be constructed on water, save for such things as ground unit production facilities, and players who “ignore the ocean [are] likely forfeiting a significant part of their potential economy to their opponents.” Further stressing this is the fact that, despite some campaign maps being entirely land based, all multiplayer maps have significant bodies of water in them.

The use of naval units and various unit abilities also helped stop players from sticking to one unit and constructing large amounts of them (or spamming) them early game. This was a standard strategy for Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars/Kane’s Wrath, where players would try to build more of one unit faster than their opponent.

Manually controlled secondary abilities are common to each and every unit in the game. How each ability is employed varies: some are toggled on or off, others are targeted, and still others are triggered the instant one presses the button. An Imperial constructor might be able to deploy once at a specified location, a Soviet conscript can switch weapons at will, or an Allied artillery piece can engage its shields with a button press but with a cooldown that requires a period of time to pass before the ability can be activated again are such examples of secondary abilities. All abilities are bound to the same key. The game also features experience points that are used to unlock upgrades to unit types as well as “commander abilities” used to call in air strikes, recon sweeps, magnetic satellite beams, etc.. Commander abilities have no resource costs but have significant cooldown periods.

Ore fields as resource sites have been removed. These originated in the first Red Alert as a functionally identical equivalent to tiberium, with no justification given for the way they represent valuable minerals found growing out of the ground. Gameplay mechanics aren’t changed a great deal since fields have been replaced with stationary ore mines.