Foxhole Pre-Alpha Impressions

by Jason Parker [Ragachak]

Every game with a World War I/II feeling has to be a shooter. It’s practically law. They’re almost always first person shooters and typically feel the same. But Foxhole has taken the feel of WWI/II armaments/combat and put it in their own world. It’s a strange, exciting timeline within a persistent world strategy MMO. You have two factions which you may choose from when loading into a map. The goal is to defeat the other side by taking over their City Halls and important buildings, destroying them and rebuilding them in your image. This isn’t one of those games where it’s like 10 on 10 and the battle lasts for about a half hour and that’s it. No, no no. We’re talking hundreds on hundreds, and I can see these battles going on for a week or so. What I sincerely love is it’s not all just combat. This isn’t a game aimed at the folks that just want to kill and that’s it. You can’t keep a war effort going without supplies, without rebuilding/reinforcing structures, constructing sandbags/foxholes, and making sure the army is supplied with medkits, guns, bullets. And tanks. Did I mention tanks yet? Because you can drive tanks and shoot the crap out of people.

Foxhole Nightime Battle Screenshot

But you can’t do it alone. Like in an actual war, you have to have other folks in the vehicles with you: copilots, gunners, even those just tagging along to get to the front line faster. When I was in the pre-alpha working with one of their developers [Adam], we were surrounded by other players working together in voice and type chat, planning and strategizing. We were one army, bound together by blood and fire. This isn’t going to be a cakewalk either because I need to point out one thing: there is friendly fire. If you shoot somewhere and an ally is there? They get shot. Are you standing in a road or on a bridge and a group of your compatriots are driving a tank? If you can’t move fast enough, you’re going to get squished. I had a few moments where it was “run into the Green Ash or get flattened by an ally tank.” I took the gas because I’m not a chump. Green Ash is a type of chemical warfare; think of it as their version of Mustard Gas. You’re going to die, probably a lot. Whether it’s from your own friends, an enemy lurking in the grass, or launching a mortar from a distance . . . it’s going to happen. That’s another reason supplies are so important: if you want to respawn at the closest Town Hall to the fight, you have to use supplies. People have to be gathering them and putting things in place.

Foxhole Wall Building Screenshot

That’s one of the things I loved so much about Foxhole: people were doing more than just fighting. Sure, there’s fighting to be done, but the technology lets you do so much more. Want to help lead and be tactical, but aren’t about going into battle? Get a radio, learn about where the major sources of the enemy are together and plan strikes. Keep your gas mask on hand, have a few guns, maybe a medkit, but you’ll stay in the base and out of sight, coordinating with your team. And there are thousands playing this right now, all pumped for it. People willing to be led, willing to lead.

You can’t see everyone all the time. If they’d ideally be hidden in tall grass, behind a car, behind a wall, you can’t see them. They don’t die in one bullet. It’s a top-down/isometric style game. You can’t carry infinite amounts of stuff [you can be slowed/overburdened by supplies] and you can’t always just respawn and run back to the fight. If you get tired of a war and feel like it’s going to be a loss, you can leave and find another battle to fight in. But you have to build everything. From the massive tanks to bunkers/pillboxes, you have to work together to get this stuff built. Once you have a blueprint in place, others can help you put work into it, but you should take care that the enemy can’t see you building, so they don’t bomb or break it. With the right artillery, they can destroy the stone bridges that lead to their base, slowing you down quite a bit. The way the game works is very simple: you equip a hammer to build things, press a button to call up the list of things capable of being built, and if you have the supplies, you get to work! Sure you just spam LMB, but that way you don’t have to be some kind of architect/mechanical genius to actually craft vehicles. If you’re using a mortar, you have to have someone spotting for you. Foxhole is the most intense team game I’ve ever played. I loved every minute of it though.

Foxhole Sandy Battle Screenshot

And the best part to me? When you play in the Campaign Mode, all the maps are one gigantic map. Normally it takes about a half hour to run from one side of a map to another, more or less. In campaign mode, you can get to the end of one map and start another one, so you can halt the supply line on this map, and slow down an offensive maneuver that way on the connected maps. It’s leveled upon levels! This is a game that I could get a bunch of my tactically-minded friends together for a session over, play for an hour or so and really get something potentially accomplished. It was amazing to hear everyone working together on comms. There was virtually no toxicity, even when we were pinned down, practically surrounded by mobile artillery, being bombed non-stop. We just had to try and pull back and figure out a way out of the mess [the solution were sticky bombs and long-range rifles. They ran out of ammo eventually and it was our turn to strike.] There’s a lot still to be announced for Foxhole, and there are things I’d personally think would make it crazier still. Aerial Technology, maybe a third faction, submersibles/swimming. Nothing major or modern, because I love the early 20th-century architecture and mechanics. If you love real-time strategy and want something fresh and exciting, Foxhole’s where you need to be. There’s something for every kind of player, and I cannot see it getting stale anytime soon.

Foxhole is now available in early access! Find it now on Steam.

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