Command & Conquer: Red Alert

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This page is for the original 1996 game. For the 2020 remastered version, see Command & Conquer Remastered Collection.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Command & Conquer: Red Alert cover
Westwood Studios
Expansions Intelligent Games
Current Electronic Arts
Original Virgin Interactive
Release dates
DOS November 22, 1996
Windows November 22, 1996
Metacritic 90
Monetization Expansion pack
Modes Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Pacing Real-time
Perspectives Top-down view
Controls Multiple select, Point and select
Genres RTS
Themes Europe, Sci-fi
Series Command & Conquer
Command & Conquer: Red Alert on HowLongToBeat
Command & Conquer: Red Alert on IGDB
Command & Conquer: Red Alert guide on StrategyWiki
Command & Conquer: Red Alert on MobyGames
Command & Conquer: Red Alert on Wikipedia
Command & Conquer 1995
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 1996
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun 1999
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 2000
Command & Conquer: Renegade 2002
Command & Conquer: Generals 2003
Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars 2007
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 2008
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - Uprising 2009
Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight 2010
Command & Conquer Remastered Collection 2020


Key points

Released for free following the release of Red Alert 3.
3.03p fan patch is highly recommended to install.
If you want a modernized C&C experience, check out OpenRA.
Language support can be further extended with language add-ons.
CD/ISO installer is 16-bit and doesn't run under modern operating systems, see Availability for solution.

General information

C&C Communications Center forums
CNCNZ forums


Source DRM Notes Keys OS
Disc check (requires the CD/DVD in the drive to play)
Also available as part of The First Decade.
The Ultimate Collection, bundled with other games in the franchise up to Tiberian Twilight.
Included with EA Play.

DLC and expansion packs

Name Notes
Command & Conquer: Red Alert: Counterstrike Comes bundled with the The First Decade and Ultimate Collection compilations.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert: The Aftermath Comes bundled with the The First Decade and Ultimate Collection compilations.

Unofficial downloads[edit]

OpenRA is a modernized open-source version of with mature support for "Red Alert".
PortableRA is available in installable or portable (stripped, multiplayer-only) form with add-ons. Extra contents included (PSX-exclusive cutscenes for the expansions and music).
RA1 Installer is a special installer that can either download the game, install it from old CDs/ISOs or patch an existing installation. Extra contents included. is a bare-bones version optimized for multiplayer (small size, portable). Missions, music and cutscenes are omitted. The music and map editor are downloadable inside the CnCNet settings. The site offers a Mac-compatible version too.
Mac OSX Wineskin package - Mac-compatible web installer that works outside the box. Includes single-player campaign and extra contents for the single-player.

Installing CDs/ISOs on modern Windows systems[edit]

Like many 32-bit games released during the mid-'90s, the game's installer is 16-bit. This and some other issues prevents the game from being installed (using the ISOs released by EA or the game CDs) on modern operating systems and PCs.
The RA1 Installer (see above) includes an option to install games from original CDs/ISOs and patch the installation afterwards. More information available at CnC-Comm forums.

Essential improvements[edit]

1024x768 resolution using the 3.03p patch.
1024x768 resolution using the 3.03p patch.



Official patches are available.

3.03p Fan Patch[edit]

Patch is included in the installation via RA1 Installer (see above).
Not needed for fan-made packages, it is already present there.
This patch contains:
  • Latest official 3.03 patch and community fixes (over 130).
  • New optional mods (no changes to default graphics or gameplay by default)
  • Support for newer Windows systems (including 64-bit)
  • Online (via CnCNet) and LAN playability up to 8 players
  • Support for higher resolutions
  • No-CD option
  • Missions from Counterstrike and Aftermath expansions (plus PSX videos for these missions and soundtrack)
Complete feature list.
In the compatibility tab all compatibility options should be turned off.[1]
Support for regular Red Alert installation, The First Decade and The Ultimate Collection.

Game data[edit]

External general settings (for the fan patch).
External general settings (for the fan patch).
In-game options menu.
In-game options menu.

Configuration file(s) location[edit]

System Location
Windows <path-to-game>\*.ini[Note 1]
redalert.ini contains normal game settings.
ddraw.ini contains CnC-DDraw settings (present after patch).
cncnet.ini contains CnCNet settings.

Save game data location[edit]

System Location
Windows <path-to-game>\savegame.***[Note 1]

Save game cloud syncing[edit]

System Native Notes


External options menu (for the original release).
External options menu (for the original release).
External video settings (for the fan patch).
External video settings (for the fan patch).
In-game video settings.
In-game video settings.

Graphics feature State WSGF Notes
Widescreen resolution
A fan patch is required.
4K Ultra HD
Field of view (FOV)
A fan patch is required.
Borderless fullscreen windowed
A fan patch is required. Disable borders, enable windowed, then stretch the resolution in the patch configuration program.
Anisotropic filtering (AF)
Anti-aliasing (AA)
Vertical sync (Vsync)
A fan patch is required. Be sure to enable OpenGL too.[citation needed]
60 FPS
A fan patch is required.
120+ FPS
A fan patch is required.


External input settings (for the fan patch).
External input settings (for the fan patch).

Keyboard and mouse State Notes
A fan patch is required.
Mouse acceleration
Mouse sensitivity
For DOSBox set in the DOSBox configuration file.
Mouse input in menus
Mouse Y-axis inversion
Controller support
For DOSBox use the DOSBox Mapper (see the glossary page for other workarounds).


In-game audio settings.
In-game audio settings.

Audio feature State Notes
Separate volume controls
Surround sound
Closed captions
Mute on focus lost


Language UI Audio Sub Notes
Censored. See Language add-ons.
See Language add-ons.
Fan translation, see Language add-ons.
Partial audio support; fan translation, see Language add-ons.
RA patch also adds support for Language add-ons.


Multiplayer types

Type Native Players Notes
LAN play
8 Versus
Uses IPX protocol. Use the 3.03p fan patch to enable modern LAN support.
Online play
8 Versus
The original multiplayer service is no longer available. Use the 3.03p fan patch and to re-enable support.

Connection types

Online play[edit]


Official forums
An unofficial community-run online service for older C&C games.
Uses an external client to launch its own improved lobby that supports private games, pre-determined alliances and spawn locations, its own online map folder, map preview, spectator mode, kick/ban and better chat capabilities (ignore, whisper, Mumble voice chat).
Predominantly used by Red Alert players.
Supports playing over LAN.
Already included in the 3.03p patch.
Additional lobby sound add-ons


Official forums
A semi-official, community-run replacement for Westwood Online (WOL), Westwood's online service.
In-game 'Internet' menu redirects to this service.
XWIS service is not used by online Red Alert community.

Issues unresolved[edit]

This list assumes you're using the patch. If you experience a new game issue, please make a support thread on the CnC-Comm forums.
  • Flickering mouse under cnc-ddraw
  • Left-handed mouse setups have problems with selecting multiple units.[2]

Issues fixed[edit]

If you have problems with The First Decade or The Ultimate Collection, be sure to check this FAQ on EA forums.

General fixes[edit]

If you have not found a fix, be sure to also check:
Check these if you haven't[citation needed]
  • If you have installed the patches properly.
  • If everything in the compatibility tab is unchecked.
  • If you have enabled "Back buffer in Video memory" and disabled "Allow hardware filled blits".
  • If you may be able to initiate the game/lobby with administrator privileges.
  • If you may be able to run it using a different renderer or enabling/disabling "singlecpu" in ddraw.ini
  • If you changed from CnC-Ddraw to DDwrapper in Video Options.

Crash after overheating[edit]

Edit ddraw.ini and enable "singlecpu"[3]

Game is laggy after installing the patch[edit]

Change the renderer in ddraw.ini[4]

"Unable to set video mode" error[edit]

Change the resolution[citation needed]
There are 3 ways how to fix this error:
  • Change the resolution.
  • Change CnC-Ddraw to DDWrapper.
  • Enable windowed mode.
    • If you really want to play fullscreen, you might want to check how to enable Borderless fullscreen windowed mode.

No music in the portable version[edit]

Go to CnCNet lobby and download the music in the settings[citation needed]

No videos after installing the patch[edit]

Download the videos[citation needed]

If you happen to have the game on CD, that means No-CD option is turned on. Either turn off the option in the configuration tool or download the videos.

Cannot Alt+Tab[edit]

Download and install Fan Patch

From Launcher settings, set Renderer to either OpenGL or Direct3D 9.

Other information[edit]


Technical specs Supported Notes
DirectDraw 3
DOS video modes MCGA, VGA
Executable 32-bit 64-bit Notes


Middleware Notes
Cutscenes VQA
Multiplayer Westwood Online


C&C has support for external maps, both multiplayer and singleplayer.
CnCNet includes its own online map folder.
Map editors can be downloaded inside CnCNet's game options. - Mapping discussion


OpenRA - community developed recreation that tries to modernize the classic gameplay and UI.

System requirements[edit]

Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) 5.0
Processor (CPU) Intel 486 66 MHz
System memory (RAM) 8 MB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 40 MB
Video card (GPU) VGA or MCGA (256 colour) video card
Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) 3.1, 95
Processor (CPU) Intel Pentium 75 MHz
System memory (RAM) 8 MB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 40 MB
Video card (GPU) PCI video card
1 MB of VRAM
DirectX 3 compatible
ISA video cards are not supported


  1. 1.0 1.1 When running this game without elevated privileges (Run as administrator option), write operations against a location below %PROGRAMFILES%, %PROGRAMDATA%, or %WINDIR% might be redirected to %LOCALAPPDATA%\VirtualStore on Windows Vista and later (more details).