By Michael Sagoe (mikedot), OnRPG Journalist
Crytek is planning to take their beloved Cryengine 3 technology to a place where many FPS titles would not even dare to tread: The realm of Free-to-Play social gaming. Warface is a modern war shooter that’s attempting to mix hardcore FPS action with Facebook-style social interaction. With a balanced focus on both co-op and competitive multiplayer modes, there should be plenty here for gamers of all styles to dig up on… or is there?
My initial thought on the game from viewing some early gameplay footage was that WarFace was going to play similar to Crysis 1, except without the nanosuit. After a good amount of playtime in the closed beta, I was only partially correct on that assumption.
First time players will have a choice between several different character models before inputting their player name.
Once selected, they’ll head off into a quick training tutorial that will get them up to speed in no time. Anyone that has ever played a modern war shooter before will know exactly what to do. However, it fails to leave out some extra details that are (sort of) unique to WarFace’s gameplay, such as the on-the-fly weapon customization option.
After completing the tutorial, I hopped right into the co-op mode, and the game asks me to pick out an item to unlock. Warface has a simple progression system where players can pick out a new weapon, new armor piece or new equipment mod to unlock in the item shop. When completing missions or multiplayer matches, players gain a small amount of EXP towards unlocking their item of course, but can switch their choice before the start of each match, just in case the player changes their mind.
I started my first mission in co-op mode as a medic, and my first objective was simple: Get from point A to point B. Of course, there were plenty of enemy soldiers in the way of each checkpoint, and all of them were pretty quick to jump on players that were eager to Rambo their way through. In Warface’s co-op, players will have to play quickly and carefully. There’s a lot of focus on team synergy and support, so playing with random people was a bit of a problem during my previous play sessions, especially with context sensitive actions that require two teammates in order to perform, such as pushing away large obstacles.
I found myself in several situations where I could not help my teammates out because of the two-man system. For instance: one time during a defense mission, some of my teammates were camping on a catwalk in the city. The enemy soldiers had them pinned down, so they were taking a hefty amount of damage. I was playing as a medic at the time and I wanted to patch my teammates up, but to get on top of the catwalk, it required players to do the two-man assist move. I positioned myself at the spot, calling other players out to help me get up there, but no one wanted to help, and so my teammates up top ended up bleeding to death.
Class composition in Warface’s co-op mode seems to be fairly important. Each team will always need to have at least one of every class type available, otherwise completing missions will be more difficult than they should be, AND your medic really needs to be quick on the draw, even more so than every other class, because dying is far too easy due to enemies having pinpoint accuracy with almost every shot.
After trying out the co-op mode, I switched over to Warface’s versus mode, to see if there was anything special going for it. From the server list, it had all the expected types of FPS game modes including Free-for-All, Team Deathmatch and Bomb Defuse, which is all well and good, but I was really looking for something special to try out. Instead, I wanted to try out Warface’s “Storm” game mode, to see if it was anything special. Sadly, however, this mode wasn’t anything special, either, as it was merely an “Attack and Defend” game mode with a fancier name.
Getting into it, playing Warface as a PvP game proved to be a frustration experience, because as a beginner, you’ll be getting your ass handed to you throughout most of the match. Since players aren’t bullet sponges, players will have to move and shoot carefully, but with the objective of capturing & defending bases and time-limits breathing down the player’s neck, it’s fairly difficult to play tactically.
In other shooters like Ghost Recon Online where players can die in one or two hits, it’s not much of an issue since maps are designed to be fairly linear, but with Warface, maps have several cover points and spots to hide away or sneak through, so mindful players can easily get the drop on newbies. Not to mention that grenades are ridiculously strong with a fairly large explosion radius. I’ve gotten taken out by so many grenades during my play sessions that I ALMOST thought I was playing a game of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warface, which was also notorious for its grenade spam in multiplayer. Simply put: new players aren’t going to be enjoying themselves too much.
One thing that surprisingly disappointed me about Warface was the game’s visuals. The anti-aliasing feature didn’t allow for specific settings (which I believe was locked at either 2x or 4x AA), the texture quality was good, but not quite as solid in comparison to Crytek’s other Cryengine 3 titles, the game’s physics were only limited to ragdoll deaths, some of the animations were a bit blocky and so on. Even though I figured the reason that Warface’s visuals barely stood up to other Cryengine 3 titles was because Crytek wanted keep the game’s download file size nice and compact, making it serviceable as a browser game. Regardless, Cryengine 3 technology is far more capable than this, and it was such a shame not being able to see the game visuals at its full potential.
After a few more play sessions, I started to take a look around for the ‘Facebook-style’ social interaction that was being promoted as part of the game. As it turns out, many social features for Warface were not available yet in the closed beta, outside of usual community features like friend lists, clans and leaderboards. Soon, however, they plan to integrate more of the upcoming G-face service into Warface such as being able to start up live streams of your play sessions for your friends, achievement feeds and even the possibility of cross device play through cloud streaming.
As it stands, Warface’s co-op gameplay seems to be the main attraction, requiring a lot of focus from teammates in order to complete missions. Co-op missions can certainly be a lot of fun, but players will need to grab some trustworthy friends before tackling them. And as for the competitive multiplayer, it’s the same old stuff we’re experienced time and time again.
Maybe once the extra social features get included, WarFace will have a lot going for it, but for now, it’s just another modern war shooter with a new coat of paint.