With the release of Deep Silver and Dambuster Studio’s Homefront: The Revolution only a few months away, one might think now would be the perfect time to iron out a few bugs, provide players with a taste of what to expect, and give people a chance to get their pre-orders ready. Unfortunately, after spending the last three weekends jumping into the servers of the closed beta, I’ve little hope this sequel will live up to the fascinating premise introduced in the 2011 title.
The first game come out to mixed reviews, with NZGamer.com dropping the score of 7.0 on it, saying “It’s not a terrible game, but it’s agonisingly close to being SO much more.” So when the announcement came so soon after the Homefront’s release, it was like the franchise had been given a second chance to make good on giving players a fulfilling title set in a world where the United States of America, had been successful invaded by the fictional Greater Korean Republic.
Now we get to this beta. Well, after being plagued by the 2011 closure of Kaos Studios (the original developer); the eventual transfer of development duties to Crytek UK; the bankruptcy of THQ (the original publisher); the acquisition of the franchise rights by Crytek, and then their financial woes; the sale of the intellectual property to Koch Media (parent company to Deep Silver); and, finally, the newly-formed Dambuster Studios being given the keys to the IP… it’s little wonder that the end result has left a sour note in my mouth.
As you read the following, please keep in mind that what I experienced isn’t the final game, and that anything could change between now and the title’s release. That being said, this is not the pretty world that gamers have come to expect from other CryEngine games, like Crysis or Ryse: Son of Rome.
What I witnessed during this beta was a dull, lifeless world, full of browns and greys. Dynamic colours feel as though they’ve been sucked away, and no matter how much I played with the picture settings on my LED tv, I just couldn’t make the game look as good as it did in 2014, or even in trailers that are just a month old.
Before moving on to far, I should say that, being a beta, you go in expecting a few glitches here and there. So although it was disappointing, it wasn’t unexpected that for almost the entire second weekend, searching for matches was like pulling teeth. During the six hours the servers were live, I only managed to connect to three games, and that was either with the search going, or sitting in my own lobby, waiting for others to be pulled in.
To clarify, my NAT was open, and my fibre connection was working fine - testing network connections and working out those sorts of bugs is why you conduct beta tests in the wild. On this topic, even if none of my other issues with what I experienced are addressed, I’m sure the netcode will be one of the things that is noticeably tightened come release.
As far a the gameplay goes, players were treated to a tease of how multiplayer will be handled. Gone are the you vs. me matches, and instead players team up to compete in a host of co-operative missions that task your Guerilla Fighters (how it’s spelled in-game) with completing objectives in rather large, destroyed, and rundown urban environments that are devoid of all life, save the enemies and odd resistance fighters at key locations.
The closed beta contained three open-world maps of different sizes, all classed as Easy, and gave an idea of the sorts of missions that would be made available.
As you play through the maps, you receive experience points and cash based on the actions you perform, and how fast (or if) you complete the mission. For example, get lots of headshots, or loot enemy corpses and wrecks for ammo and items, and earn yourself Bronze, Silver, and eventually Gold medals. Then between rounds, spend the experience points on skills, and the cash on differently priced crates of items.
Honestly, I think the idea behind this multiplayer mode is pretty cool. Dambuster Studios wants to launch with a handful of maps, then release more over the coming months. The problems come not from the ideas, but more the gameplay, and visuals surrounding them.
Continue reading on page 2.