Medal Of Honor: Warfighter Beta – EA’s Missed Opportunity
Medal Of Honor: Warfighter is in trouble.
It takes a lot to stand up to the dominance of Call Of Duty and that, whether publishers want to admit it or not, is the goal of every FPS releasing on console.
With Black Ops II on the horizon, EA has been surprisingly quiet about Warfighter, especially compared to the boisterous, noisy and aggressive campaign for Battlefield 3 last year.
The Medal Of Honor: Warfighter beta was the perfect chance for EA to start making noise about its FPS leading up to its release later this month. Alas, this is a huge missed opportunity for EA and Danger Close.
Warfighter Is Messy, Confusing
The first thing you’ll notice is how awkward and messy everything looks. Medal Of Honor: Warfighter is not an easy game to understand.
The user interface is drowning with information. Battlelog, weapons, scoreboards, classes, killstreaks, invites, updates and more are stuffed into the screen and if the corners of the screen aren’t straining enough, Danger Close has slapped text into any remaining space. Throw in cluttered menus and everything about the interface is a mess.
Doing anything in-game such as changing your loadout and so on is so cumbersome and convoluted that you simply end up not bothering.
It doesn’t help that very little is explained either. The only game mode in the beta, Hot Spot, is fairly simple to understand. You have plant the bomb or defuse the bomb on a series of targets.
However peripheral (and entirely unnecessary) information about ‘potential targets’ make it more confusing than it needs to be. We’ve seen a few players hover around potential targets trying to work out what it is they need to do, not realising that they don’t actually have to do anything.
Less Call Of Duty, More Battlefield
Eventually, you start to pick threads of sense out of the clutter, as you start to understand its weird layout.
Gameplay-wise, Warfighter’s closest equivalent is Battlefield 3, if leaning more on the arcade side of things. The maps are much smaller and encounters tend to be close to mid-range, and obviously there are no vehicles, but the pace and rhythm is reminiscent of Battlefield 3.
Warfighter is not quite fast enough to fall into twitch shooter category, with kills more to do with smart anticipation than reacting.
You can tell from the beta that Warfighter is going to be heavily class-based. You unlock more classes as you rank up and play more and they all differ significantly. The British Assault Soldier is fairly standard with a grenade launcher sub-weapon while the Canadian soldier is fast but takes less fire, and he has a ‘signal scan’ sub-weapon that gives him a quick glimpse of any enemies ahead.
Warfighter is based on squads of two, so everyone on your team pairs up with a buddy. Although it’s not a revolutionary addition to the genre, it does work well.
Points are generously allocated so you extra points for saving your buddy, assisting for his kills and even points if he kills someone without you interfering in any way.
If you’re waiting to spawn and someone fires upon your buddy, that resets the timer for you to spawn next to him. This encourages your partner to briefly duck out of trouble, wait for you to respawn, then both of you can tackle the danger ahead. Points are also awarded for buddy spawns.
The one map in the beta, Sarajevo, feels a lot more organic than Call Of Duty’s slick corridors and alley-ways. It has some interesting design with concrete overpass threaded through the level, broken buildings to hide in and an ‘open’ feel even though the map itself is fairly small.
Sarajevo is a drab map to look at, which isn’t helped by the rough, raw look of the game anyway, but it feels balanced – a nice mix of open areas and action chokepoints.
Killstreaks are a big part of the Medal Of Honor, but they don’t feel too overpowered. You unlock equipment such as smoke screens and radar jammers before progressing to mortar strikes and Blackhawk support.
You also nab points for support killstreaks. Throw down a radar jammer and if someone kills a player whose radar is jammed, you’ll grab some extra points. It’s a nice touch.
But none of these things will define Medal Of Honor: Warfighter. What will define it is the rampant spawn-camping.
The spawning system gives you the option of falling back (spawning at a pre-determined point) or spawning next to your buddy. You can only spawn by your buddy when he’s alive, obviously, and when he’s not being fired upon as this will reset the spawn timer.
The trade-off here seems to be that falling back is the safer option that puts you further away from the action. Sadly, that’s not the case at all.
You spawn in a pre-determined spot that changes depending on what location you’re attacking or defender. This makes it easy for the other team to work out where you’re spawning and pin you in on your spawn point.
Ironically, it’s the buddy system that works so well elsewhere that makes the problem far worse than it should be. While you lose the option to spawn on your buddy as he’s either dead or fending off attacks from the spawn campers, they still have the option.
So even if you kill one spawn camper, they’re given the option to spawn right back with his spawn camping buddy a few seconds later.
There’s no defence against rampant spawn camping. If you manage to sneak away from the killzone, then you can complete the objectives by planting the bomb. If you manage to sneak away.
It’s not the player’s fault, as spawn camping is the most effective way to complete that game mode (it prevents the other team from attacking/defending the objective) and nothing
Side-note to all this: if someone calls in a Blackhawk killstreak, you can spawn from the Blackhawk and rappel to the ground. However it takes so long to get to the ground and because everyone is firing on the Blackhawk to drive it away, it makes everyone spawning at the Blackhawk sitting ducks for the enemy team.
Blackhawk spawns sums up the beta perfectly – interesting idea, poor execution.
Judging by the beta, Medal Of Honor: Warfighter isn’t awful. There are no huge lag or matchmaking issues to sort out, besides the odd disconnect. The classes feel fairly balanced, as do the killstreaks. The buddy system is a nice touch.
But first impressions count mean everything in a crowded genre. Given the average FPS player will fight through the menus only to be spawn-killed over and over and over again in a rough-looking game, it’s hard to see Medal Of Honor: Warfighter making a loud enough noise to be heard in a busy October.
It may be too big a rescue mission too late in the day. At the very least, we hope Danger Close are paying attention to the spawn problems.