Warface Beta: First Impressions
by, 03-17-2013 at 01:26 AM (372 Views)
So for those of you who've heard of Warface, I just got my closed beta invite yesterday. NDA was recently lifted, so I get to spill the beans immediately after picking up the can.
Basically, Warface is being marketed as an Free to Play FPS with a micro transaction system. It's being developed by Trion Worlds on CryEngine3. What Warface wants to deliver is an in-depth cooperative mode (think Left 4 Dead meets BF3 Coop) and multiplayer in the same vein as Call of Duty and Medal of Honor. They're also trying to market it as a "social" experience through GFACE, what appears to be a social network (similar to EA/DICE's Battlelog) built specifically for Warface.
At a rough glance there's not anything out of the ordinary. CryEngine3 delivers on graphics, and in a lot of ways Warface looks similar to Medal of Honor 2010. The multiplayer provides what you would expect from a CoD competitor (in closed beta): A handful of maps, several gamemodes including Free For All, Team Deathmatch, Plant The Bomb (Haven't played, but appears to be similar to CoD's Demolition mode), and Storm (sequential conquest/domination), and four playable classes: Assault, Engineer, Medic, Sniper. The gunplay itself is respectable, and Trion seems to have set the default damage values as similar to the "Hardcore" presets of Call of Duty or Battlefield. Everything is very lethal. Assault Rifles are a little recoil heavy, but kill fast. Semi-auto snipers drop a man in two shots and feel very balanced (although in my opinion the recoil is very easy to predict and compensate for), shotguns destroy people close up, and the SMGs are very easy to control but deviate a lot at range. Again, nothing too special here. After a couple hours of multiplayer in random lobbies, I can say that Warface does a couple things right. Warface implements assist actions in Coop where you can boost a friendly onto a tall ledge, and he can then help you climb up after him. You can also toggle with E so you can stay below and boost multiple people up, then toggle back to "assist-then-climb." It makes for some interesting buddy-work if you find someone willing to communicate. Trion also has a mechanism to coerce players into staying on a specific class through a round by allowing close to instant respawns if you don't change your class, but forces you to delay 10 seconds if you pick a different class. The game also tries to present an on-the-fly weapon customization system, letting you attach and deattach optics and rail-mounted equipment in game.
Unfortunately, it appears the "meh" and the bad may outweigh the good. The skill gap is apparent between new and experienced players; which to be fair is to be expected in any game, but the gap is widened by the leveled up weapons being definite upgrades over the starting guns. As a counter example, BF3's M16A3 is a starting weapon and one of the best in the game, and CoD:MW2's FAMAS was a starting unlock and an utter beast once you got used to the burst-fire. Both of these go a long way towards giving newer players an edge while rewarding those who master these weapons, while Warface does not apparently have this. A "slide" mechanic, similar to that in CoD:Black Ops, is in the game and will unfortunately drive "dolphin-dive" haters mad. Whereas Black Ops balanced its running slide by disallowing the player from firing for the duration, Warface's slide allows you to fire your weapon with standard hipfire accuracy (which is similar to hipfire in BF and CoD titles, no surprise there) through the entire duration of the slide. It is very easy to dodge shots this way, and you're rewarded with extra points and a stat for "slide kills."
Further, Trion has elected to run the game exclusively through GFACE. This worked out pretty well for Battlelog with BF3 and MoH:Warfighter but Warface takes this a step further. Warface runs in GFACE, that is in your web browser. There is no standalone client. When you are in a lobby, the lobby and chat are run in the browser page, and then when the game loads the next round it goes to fullscreen as a separate application. It's kind of odd to describe unless you've played BF3 or MoH:Warfighter. But again, Trion takes this another step. It appears that they stream all of the necessary game files over your internet connection. Sounds, maps, textures, models, the works. How they manage this I'm not quite sure, and it's really cool to think about, but from a practical perspective it just makes for mediocre gameplay. It feels like a lazy approach and opens up the door to lag problems caused by the streaming on top of those already caused by peer to peer matchmaking. Granted the lag issues aren't too bad, but it's always less enjoyable when you get matches that have a half second delay before your shot registers.
On a side note, can you imagine the flamefest that would have erupted if BF3 -streamed- it's necessary game files instead of providing a standalone game client?
For a free game it's okay, but the streaming thing just feels inefficient and GFACE lacks the polish of Battlelog (though GFACE is in beta as well). Warface just feels like a mashup, as if it's trying to take all the good ideas from Battlefield and Medal of Honor and combine them with Call of Duty's gameplay in Crysis-like multiplayer. Everything this game presents feels like it's been done before elsewhere and better. BF3 did jumping over obstacles well with it's parkour-esque vaulting. BF3/MoH did "Facebook-for-games" well enough in Battlelog. Blacklight Retribution did a weapon customization systems leaps and bounds better than Warface (and even better than some AAA titles). The Left 4 Dead and Rainbow Six games nailed Coop FPS on the head. The gunplay isn't anything special compared to other games in the same vein, like Call of Duty 4 and Battlefield Bad Company 2.
While I can't call Warface a bad game out of hand, I don't see it being anything special. 5/10, would not recommend.