Warface – Preview
When gamers hear the name Crytek, they’ll immediately think of Crysis, beautiful graphics beyond the capability of any other game and the hefty bill for the computer they’d have to buy in order to run it. What many people don’t know is that a Crytek game exists that is not only easy to run on low-end computers, but still manages to show off the awesome power of CryENGINE 3. It gets better – it’s a free to play online FPS that you can play with your friends both co-operatively and competitively. That game is Warface.
Already released in China and Russia, Warface is a shooter set slightly in the future, and allows you to take part in daily challenges, free for all battles and co-operative challenges. Crytek’s aim was to make a title with CryENGINE that could be played by everyone through gameplay that was easy get accustomed to and texture packs that weren’t graphically intensive, but which still packed a visual punch, requiring only a gigabyte of RAM to play. The decision to make Warface free to play was easily justified with the quote: “obviously all the pirates download our games for free anyway”. The best way to start playing is to try out the co-operative player versus environment missions, which allow you and three others to complete a mission that changes daily. Specifically, many of these missions have sub-levels or extra objectives that are shuffled every day, meaning that the level you play one day can become an entirely different experience the next.
Jumping into a co-operative bout, I was shown the four classes of player and the reward tier that Warface implements. The classes are much as you’d expect, with a Rifleman class, proficient at machine guns and able to give allies ammo; the short range specialising Medic; the sub-machine gun, claymore toting and armour fixing engineer, and the sniper. The unlock system employed is divided into three main categories: weapons, outfits and equipment, and whilst players can buy these via micro-transactions or by earning ‘crowns’ – the in-game currency – you can also select which one of these three categories you’d like to lean your progression towards.
Although rewards are unlocked randomly, by leaning towards a specific reward tier – weapons for example – it increases the likelihood that they’ll receive a shiny new weapon after a successful round of PvE more than they would a new hat. Rewards aren’t just unlocked when a player ranks up either, as I was told that “if you have a hundred guns and your progression is linear, then you feel like you have to grind for seventy hours and it’s not fun”, and, as such, unlocks are a more common occurrence than in other titles.
This random element also means it’s a possibility that you’ll unlock a higher-spec gun early on in your adventures, though that’s not to say that some are outright more powerful than others; each weapon is carefully balanced, meaning that they’re more likely to compliment a certain style of play more than they’re able to totally gun down all in your path. You can also test each weapon out on a firing range if you feel so inclined and, like Crysis, the ability to customise your weapons on the fly is available, allowing you to easily adapt to what the situation calls for.
Something to truly admire Warface for is the way that it handles localisation; it doesn’t just change the language and call it a day, but goes all out to provide each region with its own altered textures, completely unique outfits, weapons and even ‘festivity’ items. The example I was given was that Chinese gamers playing at the time of the Dragon Boat Festival would be given “Rice Cakes”, or that Russian players logged on during their Independence Day would receive unique costumes. Crytek are making themselves extremely conscious of the markets they’re releasing in, and so are going all out for what they’re calling ‘intensive localisation’. When asked whether regional specific outfits or weapons would ever be available for other countries, I was told that it would be something they’d be open to doing if demand was strong enough.
With my Rifleman selected and the PvE challenge underway, we set out to reach the end of the mission, a task made much more difficult by my mere presence on the team. Those who’ve played Left 4 Dead will be familiar with the need for communication and co-operation to take down approaching enemies, and those who’ve played Left 4 Dead with me will understand precisely why I was a complete and utter liability and have probably already pre-emptively ducked for cover. Rather than charge you en-masse, Warface’s enemies think tactically, using cover, flanking and some even using portable riot shields, necessitating one man to distract while the others flanked in kind and attacked them from behind.
If you find yourself running out of lives as I did (several times), then you can use the in-game currency to buy more and get right back into the action, though it’ll impact how many crowns you stand to gain at the end of the mission, should you successfully make your way through it. Apparently, only about five to seven percent of players have ever completed the very hard missions. I’m almost surprised it’s not a smaller amount. Once you do complete a PvE mission, you and your friends are ranked over six factors, which are then compared to other teams worldwide, giving you more incentive to try and take down your friends’ records or beat their high scores for more crowns.
My experience with the PvE mission ended once we took down a juggernaut – a heavily armoured bullet-sponge of an enemy, unless you have a medic in your team, as their defibrillators can be used on the foe’s back to deal massive amounts of damage and dispatch him quickly. This becomes a useful incentive to keep your squad varied, as some of the larger, specialist enemy types are much quicker to take down if you’re playing as a certain class, due to their unique equipment layouts.
Riding on the high of victory, I decided to take the devs on in a game of PvP, and in an unpredictable twist actually managed to hold my own for most of the round until I got too distracted by how great Warface looks, despite being geared towards lower-spec consoles; it’s almost a technological marvel. The PvP battle itself was much as you’d expect, with players all vying for shooter superiority, though I have to admit I was drawn in by how much fairer the battles seemed than most other shooters I’d played online; skirmishes didn’t always result in victory for whomever shot first and the ability to roll or slide as an evasive manoeuvre was more than welcome, saving my skin on more than one occasion.
After getting some hands on time with Warface and seeing only a fraction of what it had to offer, I felt compelled to ask the devs some questions about the game, which they were more than happy to answer.
It’s an incredibly beautiful game, especially considering it’s a free to play title, and you said that you developed it for a lower spec upwards, rather than the other way round, as you do with the Crysis games. How difficult is that to do from a design perspective?
Just a matter of choice, it’s not difficult. CryENGINE can handle all manner of specs, it’s only a legend that the only computers that can run the CryENGINE are hardcore computers and that’s not true, it’s just a matter of choice. You can’t make levels that are too open or too big and you can’t afford too much AI on the same screen, but otherwise it’s not too hard.
You have different classes in the game, and some of them are more useful than others against specific enemies in the PvE missions; as we saw, the Medic could kill the Juggernaut very easily. Was that a conscious decision to encourage others to experiment with the other classes and expand their play-style?
We originally had five classes but had to remove one of them because in our opinion it wasn’t good enough. We stuck only with the kind of classes and the kind of enemies that worked perfectly together. There is no such thing as a stronger class or a weaker class, especially in PvE.
Can you tell me anything about the class that you removed?
It was a Heavy Gunner class, it used to have machine guns, but we just gave it to the rifleman, it didn’t make any sense to have another class like that that didn’t have anything special about it.
You have the specialised weapons for each region, would you use, or have you done special events? So say on Bonfire Night you could encourage players to use more explosives?
That’s a good idea actually, we could do something like that, with this kind of online experience it’s very easy to do, so if an idea like this pops up we can say “Okay everybody, for today everybody gets double experience if they kill someone with grenades” or if they play between six and eight, those are things we could easily implement.
You said that players have written guides on how to kill the Juggernauts in PvE, is there anything else you’ve done that the community have really banded around and got behind?
Yeah everything, you’ve only seen the surface but there’s bosses, helicopter bosses, there’s a boss you have to fire rockets at to bring him to his knees, so many different enemies, many different levels and ways to work together.
Warface is out in Russia and China now, and will be available in the USA and UK soon. Players can register their interest and reserve their Warface ID before the Closed Beta opens at www.warface.com.
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