I’m very bad at FPS games, but that doesn’t stop me from liking them! That’s why I was
overjoyed somewhat excited to learn that Insurgency: Sandstorm and World War 3 were free to try on Steam on last weekend. So how did it go for me?
Developed by New World Interactive – they made the original mod, transformed it into a game and then used that experience to make Day of Infamy – and published by Focus, Insurgency: Sandstorm is a multiplayer shooter that pits Security forces versus Insurgents in small-scale skirmishes.
If there’s one thing that sets it apart from Day of Infamy (and possibly the previous Insurgency), is the customizability of your player character. You will have quite a few pieces of clothing and kit to decide upon, with more getting unlocked by leveling up or bought with in-game currency. You can even choose several distinct voice options, and the whole process is female-friendly, too!
What’s even better than that is that you will have to do it twice. Security and Insurgents aren’t just palette swaps. Each of the sides has its own cosmetic and gear options. So while Security will look as professional as whatever national military/PMC US is throwing shady money at this week, the Insurgents will look like… insurgents. The same goes for weapons, with one side totting all the AR-15 versions while the other gets to see what kind of cool stuff one can stick on an AK-47.
I can’t overstate how much I love this. I hate how Battlefield et al diluted faction differences to the point where it’s nothing more than dress up. However, NWI committed to it with Day of Infamy, and that’s what you get in Sandstorm, too.
It even translates to the support call-ins! So when a Security leader (sticking close to forward observer, who has the actual radio) asks for support, it can be an attack helicopter or an A-10 Warthog run. For the Insurgents, it will be mortars… or chemical mortars, if you want to Assad it up.
As for gameplay, it’s basically what you would expect from Day of Infamy if everyone had automatic weapons – it’s fast and deadly. Insurgency doesn’t believe in giving you a targeting reticle (it outright states that the gun isn’t pointing at the exact center of the screen), so lasers become really important for close range fights when you’re firing from the hip. For anything happening at range, you will want iron sights.
And the PvE modes are back in, too! It usually works best for the venerable Push Mode (defenders start with a fixed amount of reinforcement waves while attackers only get a small amount of those, but can get more by taking points), as it allows for a variety of objectives. One fun touch is that when you’re arming a weapons cache to explode as Security, you’ll be playing with an IED, while an Insurgent would do it with C4 – so basically, whatever was appropriate to find in a cache that belongs to the opponent.
Sometimes, you even get to drive a technical! Neat!
Overall, Insurgency: Sandstorm feels like the best parts of Day of Infamy, yet set in a modern setting. And I liked Day of Infamy. It’s a cool, hardcore-ish game, and I’m surprisingly all for stuff like that.
World War 3
That’s one hell of a title right there, folks. Polish studio The Farm 51 (“The Farm” being a nickname for Area 51) is developing World War 3, a multiplayer FPS set in, well, World War 3, with a presumed Russian aggressor striking into Europe. It’s still in Early Access!
While the game promises real-world location based on Moscow, Warsaw, and Berlin, I only had the chance to play on a map that must be a Moscovite suburb. As an Eastern European, I could appreciate the authenticity of Soviet architecture and it was a cool experience all around.
It’s a world at war, Charlie Brown!
While I didn’t get to feel the weight of the strategic world map, I did get to see the game’s peculiar take on Battlefield’s point grabbing. In the Warzone mode, you have to cap a linked pair of points to get that score ticker going, which requires more cooperative effort than Battlefield’s “lol, cap whatever” approach. At the same time, the ticker isn’t attached to any sort of ticket system, so the battles do tend to last longer.
The fighting is fast and brutal, and you will drop dead at a moment’s notice (possibly even faster than in Insurgency). The game prides itself on its NIJ-status armor classification (going from Type II to Type IV), but since most players run around with assault rifles, you’ll only notice a real difference when firing pistol-caliber rounds (don’t do that) and not when you’re being fired at. Overall, being this fragile in a run-and-gun environment kinda blows (especially since squad spawn can lead you to being spawn camped) and could be ameliorated by more hardcore shooting mechanics (a la Sandstorm).
I also enjoyed how the game forces squad leaders to lead squads, as your mates can ask for orders, and if you don’t give them (it’s as easy as looking at the marker for a capture point and pressing X), you’ll be demoted. Another cool feature is that, before the match, the game asks you whether you’re a defender or an attacker, which determines how you get bonus points during it.
War. War is hella customized.
However, once you’re off the battlefield, you get into the real shit, as the game takes customization extremely seriously. From the visual standpoint, you can go silly combining pieces of real-life military garb to make the most fashionable grunt. You’re also given access to a good amount of Polish and Russian army patches, showing you just what kind of game it is.
And if you can be exhausted from cosmetics, you will not survive the build-a-bear insanity that awaits in class customization. Chose your helmet and armor. Chose your primary weapon. Chose a secondary one. Chose equipment. Choose grenades. Choose kill streaks.
CUSTOMIZE EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM (except grenades).
Guns? You can add sights (normal AND canted), lasers, flashlights, bipods, stocks, barrels… and that’s before cosmetics. Ever wanted to stick a thermal sight on an RPG-7? You can do that. I did that. Meanwhile, the equipment section contains health kits, ammo packs as well as various minor drones.
Leopard 2, but with spinning rims
Meanwhile, the kill streaks (well, point rewards – they’re unlocked by collecting points and do go away at death) offer a dazzling array of options. You can get (and customize) cheap utility/recond drones, mobile gun platforms that resupply ammo (there’s two) and choose what kind of ammo you want for that artillery barrage. Or you could choose to have a vehicle delivered to you.
Said vehicle can be a T-72 tank customized to a level the Russian army never considered. Every additional point makes it pricier, sure, but God damn, you can you tweak armor levels, gun or turret types, RCW stations, passive and active protection… oh, and cosmetics. It is frankly insane.
Now do it 8 times, since there are at least 8 class slots.
Honestly, it would be a near perfect game if the shooting was harder like in Insurgency and you had a hard split on who gets what gear (which would mean having to double your insanely customized loadouts). However, that’s not on the roadmap, but the other improvements outlined on it seem cool.
World War 3 is a very hype game and probably the best way anyone remixed the Battlefield formula. We only have to see if it survives Early Access to become a real boy!