Generals: Still Reigning Supreme in the RTS Arena?

Command & Conquer: Generals, released in 2003, carved a unique niche in the RTS (real-time strategy) genre. While games like StarCraft focused on sci-fi and Warcraft thrived in fantasy, Generals took a grounded approach, thrusting players into a modern conflict with real-world influences. But is it still the best RTS out there? Let’s explore why Generals continues to hold a special place in the hearts of strategy enthusiasts.

Modern Warfare, Real Stakes:

Generals deviated from the fantastical, placing players in control of the United States, China, and a rogue GLA (Global Liberation Army) faction. This contemporary setting resonated with players, offering a relatable backdrop for intense base-building and unit control. Superweapons like America’s carpet bomber and China’s devastating nuke added another layer of strategic depth and awe-inspiring destruction.

Accessibility Meets Depth:

Generals struck a perfect balance between accessibility and complexity. Unlike some RTS games with sprawling tech trees and micromanagement heavy mechanics, Generals offered a streamlined experience. Base building was intuitive, unit roles were clear, and the iconic Generals themselves provided powerful special abilities that added a twist to gameplay. This made it easier for newcomers to jump in while offering veterans strategic decisions and build order optimizations.

A Campaign Full of Character:

The single-player campaign wasn’t just about conquering maps. Generals weaved a compelling narrative with live-action cutscenes and distinct personalities for each General. From the stoic General Tao to the bombastic General Leang, these characters added a layer of charm and motivation to the campaign.

Generals Zero Hour: The Expansion that Elevated Everything:

The standalone expansion, Zero Hour, further solidified Generals’ position as a top contender. It introduced new units, structures, and most importantly, the thrilling Challenge mode, tasking players with overcoming increasingly difficult scenarios. This breathed new life into the game and honed the skills of competitive players.

A Lasting Legacy:

Even today, the active modding community and online tournaments showcasing Generals’ competitive scene are a testament to its enduring appeal. The simple fact is, Generals is just plain fun. It’s a game that’s easy to pick up but challenging to master, offering a perfect blend of action, strategy, and just the right amount of base-building complexity.

The Verdict:

Whether Generals is the absolute best RTS ever made is subjective. However, its unique blend of modern warfare, accessible mechanics, a captivating campaign, and a thriving community solidify its place as a genre giant. If you’re looking for a strategic experience that’s both thrilling and nostalgic, then look no further than Command & Conquer: Generals. You might just find yourself hailing victory alongside General Patton himself.

Command & Conquer: Generals Hotkeys

Here’s a list of some essential hotkeys to get you started in Command & Conquer: Generals:


  • 1-9: Select individual unit groups you’ve assigned (Ctrl + Number to assign)
  • C + Number: Create a new unit group (Number selects it)
  • Tab: Cycle through selected groups
  • Double-tap C: Select all units on screen
  • Double-tap W: Select all air units on screen
  • Ctrl + H: Select your General’s unit


  • Arrow Keys: Move the camera in the corresponding direction
  • Spacebar: Center camera on selected units
  • Esc: Center camera on your base


  • B: Build a Barracks
  • P: Build a Power Plant
  • W: Build a War Factory
  • V: Build a Vehicle Plant
  • A: Build an Airfield
  • H: Build a Palace (GLA only)

General Abilities:

  • Q: Use your General’s special ability (varies by General)


  • M: Open the Map
  • Enter: Open the chat window
  • Esc: Cancel selected action

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