I remember playing C&C DOS back in the day, when I must have been ten or so. Mammoth tanks were fucking huge and scary. And oh my goodness the noise of an obelisk or AGT! Made you jump out of your skin. And I played almost all of the franchise, including Generals and Renegade, but not the rather infamous C&C 4. I really was enchanted by C&C, and consider it very special to this day. I even bought the soundtracks from Amazon!
I also remember sending a letter to EA at the time to suggest (badly drawn and spelt) units for Red Alert 1... like electric fences and scuba divers. I personally like to think that letter led to swimming SEALs in RA2, but who knows.
Anyway, I think there's a few pitfalls EA should avoid. It's usually more instructive to see what doesn't work than what does. EA must not attempt to return to the "classic RTS" experience. If you want that, play the classics, or Petroglyph's 8-Bit Armies. The latter unfortunately didn't sell very well and I think proves my point. It's also a bad idea to diverge so radically from what made the franchise a success than it alienates your core supporters (C&C 4 having a mobile base).
I also heard Generals 2 (which looked incredible) was canned because people reacted badly to it being a bit too much like Starcraft 2. Don't be lazy and copy someone else's thing! You're going to have to be brave and innovate! That is how you make quality products and create value! I know coming from a board-room mentality where the biggest concern is making yet-another-football-game... this may be a strange and alien concept, but this is how C&C came into existence: innovation.
So what made C&C great? Base building. Army choice. Harvesting resources. Coolness. Iterative improvements were added to this, like blowing up and repairing bridges, occupying buildings, swimming soldiers, and eventually deploying whole bases in the water, flying units which could transform, which were all very interesting. They added meaningful choices for the player. C&C has built such a varied tradition of mad technology, there's plenty to pay homage to, which should also provide cool ideas for new mechanics. From tunnelling to mind control and everyone's favourite giant squid.
I loved how fast and aggressive C&C generals was. It was also so diverse. You can rush, sure, but if the other guy is GLA he can legitimately turtle up. It was one of the few instances of seeing that choice being really meaningful for players. You could do so much! I think a new C&C needs that aspect. Give the player those meaningful choices, that a good rush can be countered by a good turtle. That the micro and macro skill of the player are both important. A variety of choices, not simply arbitrary ones... like, oh I need to build a power plant and a refinery before I can build a war factory. It should be A or B, not A, B, then C.
I think the obvious solution is to build upon those things, to add interesting and meaningful options to the core C&C experience. Things we've never seen before which are cool little features, but don't stray too far. There's also plenty of ways that you could effectively blend ideas, like taking aspects from C&C Renegade's multiplayer mode to inspire how a future C&C RTS would be.
The story driven campaigns are also great, and so fundamental to the success of C&C as a franchise. C&C managed somehow to predict the future. With 9/11 creating something of a GDI vs Nod situation. And global warming being a corrupting Tibeirum-like force. And how the media has become so polarised and there's so much fake news (ANOTHER TOWN SLAUGHTERED BY GDI TERRORISTS!!)
So a lot of the themes presented were both deeply meaningful and prophetic. Red Alert was similar in a more roundabout way, both times that the writers wanted to create a story which was written from their fears about the way the future could go badly wrong. The technological ideas were often so quirky and zany, and often came from the bizarre annuls of cold war history and science fiction. I think the design team should pay a lot of attention to the core of what makes a great story and engaging universe. That will underpin everything.
Cut scenes don't have to be high budget; just good, I was happy with an unknown actor person sitting at a table. I think that's a critical aspect of project management. You find something you can really do well, rather than something amazing which can only be half-budgeted. The fact Seth getting shot in the head was done far better than the deaths in C&C3 is absurd.
Do I want a C&C or RA? Set before, during, after? SOMETHING COMPLETELY NEW??!!??! I don't know. I was happy with Tim Curry going to space because capitalism hasn't got there yet, and would be very happy to have anything weird or wonderful.
I also think it'd be cool to have some sort of a thing focused around the original C&C world, with weird and wonderful technology inspired from all of the franchise bleeding into it, made with in-universe context. Wrapped around an engaging and perilous and international social context. There's lots of stuff you can get into, with regards to power struggles, intrigue, not knowing who you can trust, very cold war themes about great powers backing people all over the place and the situation on the ground getting out of control. That'd be compelling.
It'd also be interesting to see the teams BEING international, not just Americans here and there. We live in a diverse world with so much history, and a global war will represent that. Or should. Incidentally I think it's a travesty that a historical drama about WW2 was never made with multiple characters from different nations, so the viewer gets a view of a truly global conflict, and not just whatever perspective is most convenient to their culture. But I digress.
P.S. I'd like to see the next C&C's UI to be a bit more like SC2: specifically in the way SC2 shows you exactly what unit stats are, exactly what unit damage bonuses are, range, etc. I hated how C&C hid critical information. Give me ALL THE INFORMATION TO MAKE A DECISION!!
Hope that rambling is somewhat clear.