Tiberium stands at the center of both Command & Conquer fiction and gameplay: everything and everyone in the game's universe is defined by their relation to Tiberium. It is described as being the "central unifying element" throughout the game.
Tiberium and the C&C Story
Tiberium is not just a catalyst for a global war that has gone on for 30 years, but also an environmental disaster and a scientific curisoity. Its origins are at this time unknown: some think that it is actually a terraforming agent planted on Earth by an alien civilization that is gradually transforming the planet into a world that aliens might someday live in; some think that it is a weapon - a substance that an alien civilization dropped in on us that is just going to kill us off after some period of time.
The Global Defense Initiative regards Tiberium with mixed views. On one hand, it is a highly hazardous substance that has been adversely affecting the planet's environment for years and has led to multiple wars and the impoverishment of billions. They thus ostensibly seek to eliminate it, or at least significantly contain its spread. At the same time, however, it is their primary, seemingly never-ending resource and has powered a new wave of modern technological advances. For the GDI, Tiberium is a blessing and a curse.
The Brotherhood of Nod, however, regards Tiberium with less ambiguity. The substance serves not only as Nod's primary resource but also as their spiritual catalyst. Nod sees Tiberium as key to the transformation that will literally take humans to the next plane of evolution.
Tiberium, The Substance
Technically, Tiberium is known to be a self-replicating substance, meaning simply that anything it touches in turns into more of itself. Briefly outlined in a June 2006 PC Gamer
article, this process involves changing the elemental makeup of surrounding substances by breaking them down and absorbing some of the products, allowing Tiberium to spread. Curiously, water seems to accelerate Tiberium's spread and the rate at which it converts other matter into itself. The reasons for this are unknown.
To limit Tiberium's effects, the Global Defense Initiative and the Brotherhood of Nod have both developed heavily-armored Tiberium-resistant materials. Additionally, GDI has developed what is known as sonic resonance, a technique by which Tiberium growth can be inhibited through the use of high intensity sound waves at a specific frequency. The power demands of this sophisticated technology are astronomical however, and it has not yet been developed for use with vehicles or infantry on the battlefield.
Tiberium and C&C 3 Gameplay
GDI harvester gathering Tiberium.
In Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
, Tiberium is the basis of your economy: whether GDI or Nod. The game features a familiar resource management system that includes multiple harvesters, refineries, and silos. You collect Tiberium with harvesters and bring it back to your refineries, where you convert it into what is essentially money. These funds are stored in your silos. A player's economy is thus vulnerable on multiple fronts: your enemy may attack your harvesters, seek to gain control of your Tiberium fields, or even steal money right out of your silos (with certain units).
Tiberium is however a very persistent substance. Thus, even if you mine out an entire Tiberium field, it will slowly regrow. Be warned, though, that you can't simply "nurse" a single field by your base's starting position throughout an entire game: you must expand your base outward to find more resources if you hope to be victorious.
As battles drag on and Tiberium fields are depleted, the pace of collection does in fact slow. Collection of Tiberium is fastest at the beginning of battles, when there is ample Tiberium all across the battlefield.
Tiberium thus clearly plays a critical role in not only getting your army up and running, but continuing to fund its advancement throughout the battle. It also, however, purportedly interacts with certain units in unique, specialized ways. One of the factions will supposedly have an especially interesting use of Tiberium -- a very tactical one whereby you'll want to be very close to the substance while using the faction's units.
It is also worth noting that infantry units are vulnerable to Tiberium, as they always have been, due to its toxic and hazardous nature. Certain units, however, such as the GDI Zone Trooper, are resistant to its effects, as they utilize GDI and Nod's Tiberium-resistant technologies.
And, of course, Tiberium affects the ways in which battles in different Zones
play out, giving each Zone a unique gameplay feel. Tiberium is thus all-essential in Command & Conquer 3
, affecting the C&C story and gameplay on multiple fronts.