Livestream 8/11/2022 – Dark Reign

The RTS genre hit a true boom in the mid/late 90s. While there had been several games that came before the craze following the release of Command & Conquer and Warcraft II in 1995, these really set the standard of what we could expect. You now had an expectation of being able to select multiple units at the same time and issuing them orders by a simple click. Thinking back to Dune 2, arguably one of the first modern RTSs, it seems incredibly primitive now. Of course when it came out it was a revelation and was very successul.

Westwood and Blizzard would be the gold standard developers for the genre for quite some time. There were many attempts to cash in on the craze, with varied success. Activison published the game Dark Reign in 1997, letting the developer Auron take a whack at it. The game saw quite the hype cycle and I remember seeing full page spread ads saying how it was “The Future of War”. Featuring advanced AI, terrain and elevation, as well as cut scenes and tons of units, it was supposed to be the be all end all RTS. And it was quite successful as far as I’m aware but there was also another small entry into the field in 1997: Total Annihilation.

So while Dark Reign did an amazing job with the sprite based graphics, the first entry in the “3D” generation of RTSs had arrived. It may be the reason this somewhat flew under the radar for me but it has all the components in it to provide a great RTS experience. Check out the replay below and see what you think!