Matrix Games Announces New Military Simulation & CMANO successor - Command: Modern Operations

By Joe Robinson 03 Sep 2019 3

I’d been hearing rumours about a ‘Command 2’ since just before Matrix/Slitherine sold us to Network N. Given the success of the military simulation software and the work Matrix have been doing with the defence industry a dedicated sequel was a given: CMANO is an excellent simulation, but it's also a game that's a product of its birth - I highly doubt it had much of a development budget when things first started, meaning that eventually a lot of legacy issues would need addressing. The question is simply "when?".

There’s been no CMANO news since Desert Storm’s release on April 1st 2019, so I've suspected something might be up for a few weeks - now we know what! Command's sequel, known officially as Command: Modern Operations, (CMO? COMMO?) is being worked on, and the company has put out a lot of information about what it will be:

In short, it's going to be… everything?

Command: Modern Operations feels like less of a ‘sequel’ and more the formal evolution of an idea that started back in 2014. No, not the “We’ll do Harpoon, just better,” one, the idea of creating a truly multi-purpose military war game simulation that can work for both consumers and professional clients. Whether that was the actual plan at the start doesn’t really matter: As the game has been expanded and developed on, this is what it's become through iteration.

But there comes a time where you need to almost ‘reset’ yourself and start again, to take everything to the next level and future proof oneself against the changing face of warfare. Sure, CMO has got fancy new graphics, a better interface and genuinely new features, but it also codifies and consolidates all of the changes the original CMANO went through. For example, a lot of the bespoke mechanics created for the Chains of War expansion have now been made standard features.

CommandMO 5

The press release has a pretty extensive list of headline features and major changes coming in the new game, which we’ll list out here for you as well:

  • Revised user interface, based on dark theme and with lots of tweaks for improved gameplay.
  • Completely rewritten map engine, enabling fast and lag-free zoom & pan operations.
  • New spectacular high-resolution map layers
  • Support for real-time Tacview 3D view (NOTE: separate purchase of Tacview Advanced edition required)
  • Numerous new UI & gameplay features such as hover-info databox, time-step mode, colored data blocks, minimaps, "recently loaded" scene/saves etc.
  • Massive boost in simulation performance/scalability.
  • Automatic on-demand remote fetching of platform images (Players no longer need to manually download and install the database image packs)
  • Message Log 2.0: A radically improved message reporting system.
  • New game mode: Quick Battle Generator
  • New line-of-sight (LOS) tool
  • New ScenEdit feature: Merge scenarios
  • New sim features:
    • Customizable aircraft formations
    • Terrain type affecting movement, vulnerability and detectability of ground forces
    • New cost-based pathfinder engine
    • Realistic sub comms
    • Patrols with customizable movement pattern
    • Vastly improved aircraft flight model
    • Improved dogfight AI
    • Aircraft crew G-tolerance
    • Radar frequency agility
    • Explicit Doppler-notching
  • Renewed emphasis on overall gameplay experience:
    • Additional and expanded tutorials
    • Stylized map icons by default
    • The Chains Of War previously-exclusive features (cargo & amphib ops, aircraft damage, comms disruption and advanced weapon types) are now standard.

The main thing will be ground operations, as it has always been CMANO’s ‘final’ frontier. Previous expansions have added in some mechanics that facilitate the inclusion of ground-forces, but at times a lot of it has felt fairly 'ad-hoc', or has pushed/hacked the engine in ways it was never designed for. A purpose-built, engine-level solution has been needed for true ground operations support, and CMO looks like it'll be the real deal.

CommandMO 12

All of the first game’s scenarios are being remastered and included in the new game’s library, which is being handled by Silent Service’s scenario designer Rory Noonan. Brand-new scenarios are also being created, and generally the game will be able to cover military operations ranging from the Cold War all the way present day and beyond.

The final big thing will of course be the user-interface. CMANO’s never been a pretty game, but at times it’s not always a particularly intuitive one either so there’s definitely room for improvement there as well.

There’s currently no word of any official release window. The company hasn't even confirmed that it’s coming in 2020 although if they’re announcing it now I’d be surprised if this is for 2021 and beyond. The screenshots we’ve been supplied certainly suggest it’s pretty far along already. There is a Steam page though, if you want to wishlist the game.

Are you excited for a new Command game? What new features are you looking forward to the most? Answers on a postcard!

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