This game is outstanding. I cannot even understand why people play PUBG when there’s this one that is SO MUCH more.
Or, I actually do know: it runs like utter shit even on quite beefy hardware. The engine is really the only thing that sets this game back.
I haven’t played online at all. I only played offline mode against the braindead AI, I got killed every time. That’s still the most fun I’ve ever had with a FPS. The first time I was worried I could still lose equipment so I only brought a pistol and a magazine… Only to realize that a magazine is a separate object from the actual bullets. So you have to ALSO load bullets into the magazine before loading the magazine into the pistol, if you want to shoot at things.
The next attempt was during the night while raining. All I could see was stains of grey. I made to the first bridge by groping my way around. Then ended up with a NPC pointing a flashlight to my eyes. I couldn’t see shit beside this flimsy light flashing across from time to time. I don’t even know if I managed to kill one because another arrived from another direction and I died.
Other attempts were more successful. Slightly.
There are a few things that make this game a masterpiece. So I’ll make a quick list:
- The concept. You buy an account that gives some off-game storage space, and a number of entry level objects (and some money). You load stuff in your personal inventory, and then pick a “map” (that is a rather big level) where you spawn on one side and have to reach the opposite side while staying alive. If you survive, everything you carried and that you looted around the map will be brought to your storage space. If you die (or crash, or get disconnected or whatever) you lose everything you brought along. This means the matches do matter and can be really tense. There’s something at stake because I don’t think the weapons spawn at random (I could only find a grenade inside a box), you have to loot them from other players or NPCs you kill, and if you don’t bring a decent weapon then it’s unlikely you can kill someone. There are also some off-game NPCs to sell/buy stuff and they can even give you some “missions” where for example you have to retrieve some objects for them.
- The inventory system. Individual pockets, backpacks and so on. But what matters here is the loot system. If you kill someone you can loot everything he had. But this isn’t like other games where you have a list of objects. You have to search inside individual pockets and containers, one by one. Searching can take some time, while you stay out exposed. So you have to search individually each pocket on the guy, and the objects you find also appear one by one, as if you were really groping around with your hand and picking up the first thing you found. Some objects appear as black silhouettes, because it’s the first time you see them. These too have to be examined individually, with another progress bar, to figure out what they actually are and how to use them. Some inventory slots are square, some slots are vertical. For example some rifle magazines need a vertical slot, two square slots one above the other won’t do. You spend time organizing your limited inventory, deciding what to take and leave, while paying close attention to noises so that you don’t get killed while looking into someone’s pockets.
- The realism that isn’t for sake of realism. The sound in this game is insane. The noises you make while moving around, or that other characters make, are different from any other game. There’s no HUD, so sound is all you have. If you start running they can hear you from miles away because it’s the sound you’d expect while running around in heavy boots. I couldn’t imagine how realistic sound can make the gameplay feel so much more visceral. Getting in a firefight in this game is much more intense than every other FPS I played. With the mouse wheel you control a slider to determine how fast you walk (there’s a separate key for running). That slider and the posture indicator is basically all the HUD you’ll see. (actually, there’s a slider for the height too, but I’m not sure how to use it, the game has the usual keys to stand, crouch and go prone, but maybe there’s some way for a finer adjustment too)
- The hardware. Bullets and magazines are individual objects not to add hassle, but because you can load different bullet types (and different magazines sizes for the same weapon). There are tons of different ones. And all the weapons are moddable to the extreme, the way the real objects are. It’s not game-y stuff where you apply some generic bonus. You can strip down a weapon to its skeleton, change grips, springs and everything else. I’m not an expert but this is the first time I see this kind of detail in a game.
And that’s just the overall structure. The game has so many objects to loot and sell. For example I opened a cabinet and found a CPU fan and wooden horse. I suppose it’s trash that is meant to be simply sold, but the game has also the stuff typical in survival games. You have to bring water and drink, for example. When you get shot at the screen blurs even if you aren’t hit, it’s the way it models suppression and, between that and the sound it makes, you do feel under fire. The way the character moves with body weight, recoils when bullets hit really close, or gets fatigued after a run, it really adds to the gameplay. When you run you cannot suddenly turn in the opposite direction. You cannot bunnyhop around as in COD. That makes the combat forced into a slow, tactical affair where thinking is more important than aim and reflexes (and I can’t imagine what a mess it might be online since the game won’t tell you who’s enemy and who’s friend). Also, since untreated wounds get worse over time, it means you often will survive firefights only to die horribly some time later while coughing blood and limping desperately toward the exit, your screen reduced to a red blur.
I really don’t see anything that this game doesn’t do to perfection (or that could use refinement, considering it’s beta). It’s an actual masterpiece.
…But the engine is utter shit (and stuff like LOD transitions and shadow gradients look awful, even if the overall picture is still great thanks to attention to detail). Imagine this running on a good engine and it would be a dream game that materializes. You cannot improve perfection. And I guess only Russians could make a game so unashamedly and bravely hardcore that gets everything right.
I haven’t verified to be certain, but there might be a separate mode of play, only available on a timer. The difference is that you spawn with a random loadout. So in this case if you die you don’t lose the gear. And, I think, if you survive you instead can still keep all the loot.
So, if it works like that you have to realize that the “hardcore” aspect isn’t that extreme. You have your storage space where you can accumulate some gear, you have these timed spawn that can get you gear for free (if you survive), and you also have the money that you can accumulate freely (I don’t know if money is also lost on death). Even if you lose everything you can still buy stuff from NPCs. That means there seem to be a decent amount of options available even in the case you keep dying horribly over and over.