Is there a decent recent multiplayer PC RTS which I can play against a friend?

My friend has been lost to World Of Warcraft for a long time, and never really a 3D shooter person, and one of the successful and fun times we had was back on modems playing Command and Conquer and Red Alert over the phone.

I’d like to try and tempt him back into the realm of gaming with me, because it seems like the social part is what he wants, via WOW, so thought an RTS might work.

A while back I got C&C: Tiberium Wars, Tiberium Twilight, Kanes Wrath, Red Alert 3, RA: Uprising, but only really played TW through a bit, and it had no multiplayer.

I’d like to avoid Warcraft 3 which I do remember playing against random people on the net because I just found that was just base rush and not the type of game I’d like to play against a friend, for the social aspect rather than the winning.

Any suggestions anyone?

A couple of things to consider - there are a lot of options to avoid a PvP RTS - because for the established ones, you’ll get variants on the ‘perfected’ clone builds and bots and be ROFL-stomped rather than having a fun competition. And that if you play directly against your friend, that can also lead to hard feelings, especially if they (or you!) only chose to play one specific strategy [ playing with ‘house rules’ where you can’t rush in the first 10 minutes or the like works though ].

So I’d recommend options where you can create team play, say both of you vs one ‘smart’ AI, or the both of you against a larger number of randomized AI NPC players. Alternately, you can do co-op play against a scenario in a number of RTS, which gives a social element, friendly competition, and a mutual goal.

The last RTS I played in Co-op with these features is StarCraft II, and it did pretty well at all of the above, especially the co-op campaign mode. And since Blizz’s chat client is pretty easy to use as well, you get an all-in-one package.

I have also heard pretty much nothing but good about Sins of a Solar Empire Rebellion, although it apparently takes a while to ‘git gud’ at, but it’s deep in my pile of unplayed Steam games. So I cannot give a personal recommendation about it (one day, one day!).

Neither of us are really going to take it seriously, indeed we might play it with no experience at all and discover as it goes. Dammit for Blizzard being dragged in again, it’s a mere click him going off and spending 7 hours doing quests for a hat with +1 crit.

Could be worse, they could be like myself who refused to pay real cash to play WoW when all of my friends went back during Legion - so I just waste around an hour a day farming gold to play the game. SMH.

But honestly, Starcraft 2 is pretty fun, and you can also mention that he’ll be able to unlock Starcraft portraits to use when playing wow! Make it work for you. And again, Steam rates Sins of a Solar Empire highly, with the highest rated negative comment being about the elitist issues on the PvP front.

Starcraft 2 appears to be free, and he has the client already so shouldn’t be a problem.

I’d be interested as to opinions of other games. Not sure of the scifi alien context of SC, I played the first one for a couple of hours and it annoyed me, and I never went back.

It is a shame nobody really did my original fave again, Dune 2 (or 2K later), I know there’s a new Dune one coming out but not sure if it will be a RTS at all.

Doom II. =)

If Starcraft 2 is on the table you might also consider Age of Empires, especially if you prefer swords and sandals to robots and ray guns. They just last year released the brand new Age of Empires IV, which as I understand it is not a remake. I’m super pumped to check it out but the stupid thing looks like it’s never going to go on sale. Harumph.

Since @Smid mentioned the classic Dune RTS, there is the early access Dune: Spice Wars RTS. From everything I’ve read it’s beautiful, with some interesting takes on the RTS, but seems short on content and actual RTS so far.

But I take both the praise and complaints with a large grain of salt for early access games. It is something you might want to click on ye olde ‘follow’ button in Steam for example.

Age of Empires II still has a strong player base, and it’s a great 1v1 game as well. And if you’re at different skill levels, it’s not hard to handicap (e.g., give one person a head start or something). AoE IV as mentioned above is newer, but my understanding is that AoE II might still be the stronger game, and as of now at least, it is still actively supported by the developers.

Company of Heroes 1 scratches that RTS base building itch I had and it’s a fantastic game, it won multiple game of the gear awards when it came out, but it’s over 15 years old. But it’s on Steam and almost always on sale for less than $10 so I heavily recommend it. It’s also got really good multiplayer options for playing against AI or having big team battles with 1 human player and 3 AI players vs another human player and their 3 AI partners.

Company of Heroes 2 is newer but trades in some of the classic Command And Conquer big tank battles and base building ideas for smaller more focused battles. It’s still a great game but not as big and crazy as Company of Heroes 1 was. This one does have actual co-op missions though.

So thinking back to what I loved about C&C etc, I assume there’s a resource to be mined (and thus attacked), power required to run plants, a tiered unit build syste, and stealth attack units (I loved a nice spy nipping in behind lines and taking down the power plants). I’m talking about the general games, but specifically COH1 AOE(X) and SC2. I’m probably fine without them, but I’m just wondering about the variation (such as a lot of FPS differ, but they all have crates).

We played this so much back in the day (Age of Empires II at least). I would do LAN parties at my friend’s house. My favorite civilization was the Chinese. I remember I’d create these “death squares” where I’d put a ranged character (often the unique Chu Ko Nu unit) surrounded by a square of heavy armor melee units, and deploy those in combat. I also focused heavily on gunpowder to use cannons for defense.

My friend’s little brother was some kind of savant though and would always destroy us. Even when we teamed up 3 vs 1 (his dad joined us) and tried to coordinate we got creamed. It was still fun though.

I was similarly enthralled with the original Age of Empires, as well as the expansion Rise of Rome. Only difference is we played online instead of doing LAN parties. (My LAN party days were 5-10 years earlier in the early/mid '90s, with games like Populous.)

I never really got into AoE 2. I did eventually get it on my old computer (the one I replaced last year) but not until years after I had stopped playing competitively online. Both the original Age of Empires as well as Starcraft. Not that I was good; someone like your friend’s little brother would’ve probably wiped the floor with me 1v1.

I think the problem for me was that Age of Empires and Rise of Rome were so leisurely paced in the beginning. It was literally 15 minutes before major activity would start happening. Then Starcraft came along with major activity within the first 5 minutes and Age of Empires never really stood a chance. I don’t really even remember AoE 2 coming out, but I do remember being so into Starcraft a bulldozer wouldn’t have been able to pull me away from it. Even if I had been aware Starcraft was just too good.

I loved the leisurely pace of Age of Empires, and appreciated the hell out of the quality of life improvements from Rise of Rome. (Queuing units!) But Starcraft was strictly better. I did get the original AoE on my new computer but it’s a remaster and I hate it. They changed the building sizes so my base designs no longer work, removing the nostalgia factor. Ah well. (I preferred Sumerians with their fast-firing catapults and double farms. It was not a well-balanced game, but at least I resisted the meta of either Assyrian / Yamato for rushing or Hittites for the double HP catapults. I got pretty good at microing those zippy Sumerian catapults.)

I really do want to check out AoE IV, but god damn, I need better than a 25% sale for a $60 title. Right now on the summer sales it’s only 15% off I think. Rat bastards.

I missed the fact that Command and Conquer had been remastered (in a “package”) on 2020 and is in the steam sale at the moment for 6 quid. It says the multiplayer is back up and running via “their servers” so it might be in a more playable state than it has been for ten years.

Anyone tried this? It seems to be C&C and Red Alert.

I played Red Alert as a campaign waaaay back in the day and remember it fondly. I have no idea how it holds up.

Oh I played the original games. The point here was to get the networking working via the remasters.

Company of Heroes is my favorite RTS of all time. It’s old but it still holds up and looks good. It focuses on territory control more than base rushing and the combat is a little slower and more deliberate, which sounds more like what you’re aiming for. It’s also pretty intuitive to understand - you don’t have to learn that the swamp creatures have buffing magic or the flying butt dildo units are weak against other air or whatever, you’re moving around squads of infantry, machine guns, tanks, it’s all very intuitive and plays out like a WW2 battle. It’s also only $4 in the steam summer sale.

I don’t really see the logic in saying he plays WoW for the social aspect so you think you can get him to play an RTS, I don’t see the connection there, but I think CoH can be sort of a slower paced RTS where you don’t feel like you’re getting base rushed so that might be what you’re going for.

Sold, but before I pick it up, is the $7 ‘deluxe’ version the way to go?

As a general rule I don’t particularly care for DLC content cluttering up my hard drive unless it’s actually good. For example, with cities skylines I would never even consider getting a radio station or most of the content creator packs, but I did buy all 12 of the major content DLCs. (Or however many there are: Airports, Industries, etc…)

Yeah, it’s worth it, it adds 2 factions (to the original 2) with different playstyles and new campaigns too.

Nice, thanks for the recommendation, the deluxe package is now in my library.

Not loving the hard drive space requirements. The steam store page says 1 GB but doesn’t distinguish between the base version and the deluxe. But now that I have them all in my library, each part – the base game and all three DLCs – say 10 GB, for a presumptive total of 40 GB. Oofa.

Way too wrapped up in subnautica right now to install it now anyway. I try not to tinker with new games until I have actual time to devote to them.