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News guides 12 March 2024, 02:00

How to Play Red Alert 2 (RA2) Online

With CnC series coming back to Steam, let's explore possibilities to play beloved Red Alert 2 online, with or against other players.

Source: Command & Conquer Red Alert 2, Developer: EA Los Angeles

The RTS genre never truly died, it just went “underground” and was still present on the indie scene. There, the most die-hard fans weaved their dreams about next, big game about building economies, creating and commanding armies in real time. Just recently, EA (who is the owner of Command & Conquer series) released most of the titles from this legendary collection on Steam. Thanks to that, numerous CnC games experience a revival. With players piquing interest in this saga again, many wonder how they can play online and clash with other human competitors. Since Red Alert 2 is in hearts of many, let’s dive deeper to see how to face fans in this beloved production.

Online play in Red Alert 2 explained

Command & Conquer is a legendary series of Real Time Strategies, which was created at the edge of millenniums, when this genre was at the top of popularity. A lot has changed since then, but it seems like the RTS titles are slowly coming back in form of small games like Tempest Rising or bigger ones, namely Stormgate. EA Games shook the scene a little by making many of the CnC titles available on Steam.

As many players value Red Alert 2 (with its expansion entitled Yuri’s Revenge) the most, let’s explore the possibilities of online play in this game. Of course, the official ways to enjoy it with others are long gone, but fans have never let it die and created their own methods of leading multiplayer battles. Currently, there are two approaches worth mentioning.

Please bear in mind that we do not own any of the files nor we take any liability for them to work. Installing the multiplayer component requires changing game files that may render it unusable. Make sure to back up all the files that you are working on. You are doing it at your own risk!


The first option recommended by the fans is CnCNet. The installation is quick and simple. All there is to do is to download the executable and install it. The mod should automatically detect the version of the game you have and the input from your side should be minimal. To run the add-on each time the title is run from Steam, you will have to add the following Launch Option:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Command & Conquer Red Alert II\CnCNetYRLauncher.exe" %command%.

In case you have Steam installed in other location, make sure to put in the path leading to CnCNetYRLauncher.exe executable.

CnCNet is completely free to use and open source, however bear in mind that it requires the base game plus Yuri’s Revenge expansion.


The other option, a bit more complicated to run, is GameRanger. It requires downloading the file, installing it, just like CnCNet, but also creating a free account. This is because this is a more general solution, including not only Red Alert 2, but other games as well.

This works as a third-party platform that handles all the multiplayer by itself, so in order to run it, you’ll have to run the client and host and join the game from GameRanger’s level. This can be done by going to Community menu and inviting your friends.

This solution is free of charge but in this option, it includes ad banners as a way of revenue (CnCNet is entirely fan driven). However, it also offers premium tiers that alleviate many of its basic limitations.

No matter which option you choose, now it’s the best time in years to get back to this amazing RTS series. Good luck and have fun rediscovering this fantastic franchise!

Aleksander Kartasinski

Aleksander Kartasinski

Just a random from the depths of the internet who happens to be interested in video games like millions of other people on this planet. By sheer luck he was given a chance to write about them. Worked in IT department and supported users for way too long, but also given a chance to do some IT magic on a large scale in his free time. Interested in technology, games with intriguing mechanics, etymology, and linguistics.