Gaming for me started off in the wilderness of France with the RTS genre, as I escorted Henry the Fifth to his transport ship bound for Britain. The campaign mission I talk about is Agincourt and the game I believe you already know is the highly famed Age of Empires 2’s expansion, The Conquerors. And I could not have asked for a better door to the world of gaming, for Age of Empires was and still is one of the best real-time strategy series to have come out, with an ever expanding fan-following even for a rather not-critically-acclaimed remastered version of the series’ second iteration that came out way back in 1999. The third addition to the universally acclaimed series however, did not garner much attention, although I had a hell of a time following the highly innovative and crazy adventures of the Black family.
Real-time strategy gaming however garnered international focus with the advent of Blizzard absolutely legendary IP’s in the name of StarCraft and WarCraft. StarCraft till date is hailed as the ‘shining beacon of eSports’ as players such as Flash and Jaedong became household names in the gaming frenzied South Korea and USA. Its earthly counterpart, WarCraft 3, went on to spawn another generation of gaming in the form of the MOBA community while it itself giving rise to competitions of its own, and bringing competitors such as Grubby and Moon to the spotlight of every media house. Till date, StarCraft: Brood War is played by fans all over the globe as well as some pretty big WarCraft 3 streams popping up on Twitch every now and then.
Another series that needs mention in my love for this genre would have to be Command and Conquer. Command and Conquer: Generals snatched away all the time that I used to be left with after following El Cid’s conquest in Spain and Kerrigan’s zergs. And were they worth every second of it! For a big fan of military games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Command and Conquer felt like the pinnacle of military strategy games. A pretty captivating storyline mixing up perfect essences of patriotism, power, might, and fall all blended in stellar missions and races too and a fun-to-play multiplayer, this series had hit every good point that I love seeing in RTS. That being said, it simply is a shame to not see EA making any attempt to do anything of it.
It, however, is the sad story prevailing in the complete gaming industry for the past few years. There is a genre that is being left untapped in the current generation of technological advancements, with few indie developers making little approaches in it such as Ashes of the Singularity using DirectX 12 to power their game. Literally speaking, the last notable advancement in the RTS genre graphically speaking would have to be Age of Empires 3 using Havok physics. StarCraft 2, the stand-out exception to all my arguments did not age well as we entered 2015, or 2014 as a matter of fact. Starcraft 2’s case, however, is peculiar to say the least.
StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty was easily the Fallout 4 of 2010. Highly hyped and sought-after, amazing gameplay, but somewhere lagging behind on the technical terms. It however, did the unimaginable of bringing together a tired community looking for a new RTS to begin using their fingers aged to micro and macro at the drop of the feather as well as those who simply looked for an adventure. I belonging to the group of people who simply wished to follow Zeratul’s exploits, and so i did go on an epic adventure that Blizzard’s 10-years-in-creation had to offer. And boy was it fulfilling. Blizzard Entertainment is one of the few publishers to bring regular content to die-hard fans as well as newcomers alike in almost any genre you speak of. StarCraft did that to me, and much more for I plunged myself into the addictive multiplayer ladders.
The multiplayer aspect of the RTS genre was something that always came secondary in my list for a proper RTS. Although I understand the fact that it forms up a massive amount of the game itself, I have seen myself being biased towards the stellar stories offered by Age of Mythology and its expansion rather than immersing myself into hours of non-stop Warhammer 40,000. It had always been about letting myself lose into another world, where everyone ‘dances’ to my fingertips (no, I am not a sadist) and wielding that kind of power that video gaming had to offer which grasped me closer to my desktop. Losing myself into the Ancient Egypt, the Koprulu Sector, the battle of Lepanto and fighting the war against terrorism brought peace to the ever expanding creative quest of my adolescent mind.
StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void brought tears into my eyes. Learning Tassadar’s ultimate truth whilst seeing Kerrigan and James Raynor walk out in the ending still brings a void in my fan filled heart full of admiration for creators Chris Metzen and James Phinney. And more than Half-Life 3 announcing pre-orders on Steam, I long for the day Microsoft announces another Age of Empires, which is something that I believe is many long-time fans’ deepest prayers. Thus being said, all I wish in the future that new technology heralds into are simply many other epic fantasy or military, whatever quenches your thirst, real-time strategy games for the generation next to rekindle that spark of which you know I am talking about.