It seems that the developers of Medal of Honor: Warfighter are trying very hard to deliver an experience that will have a bigger impact on the radar of every FPS-centric gamer, most of whom are already engrossed in the well-established Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises. During a recent closed-door hands-on session, the game’s developers expressed their desire to make sure that the eventual finished product reflects their efforts to portray, “authenticity and respect for the real-life soldier.”
After a brief overview of the multiplayer mode, we were able to sit down and play it for ourselves. There was a small selection of soldiers at each player’s disposal, each from a different country – two of whom hailed from the United States – who wielded different weapons and had access to a varied array of abilities.
Our selections included a Polish Assaulter (GROM), Australian Point Man (SASR), Canadian Heavy Weapons Expert (JTF2), and an American Special Operative (OGA) and Sniper (Navy SEALs). Each soldier’s loadout was pretty standard considering what we have seen in first-person shooters in the past; the lighter classes had smaller assault rifles and submachine guns, while the buffer classes had heavier machineguns.
Each soldier had special abilities at their disposal as well, in addition to their loadout. There was a bit of overlap, since most of the abilities were slight variations of UAV reconnaissance and air support. The effectiveness of the reconnaissance and severity of the air support abilities differed depending on the class. Lighter classes had access to precise but effective gunships and airstrikes, while the heavier classes were able to access support from much larger C-130 gunships and the like. Overall, there was nothing about these features to write home about. A lot of these features have been done before, so there was no significant lasting impression. The presentation was neat though, but that was about it.
The unique aspect of the multiplayer was the buddy system, which MoH developers are referring to as the Fire Team System. An interesting concept, but in its current state, there was a lack of depth and simply not much to it, overall. The team of eight or so combatants are each paired up with a buddy that they are able to see from anywhere on the map. You also are able to spawn on your buddy – as long as they are not being fired upon – and it made for some interesting moments of teamwork that I have not seen in other games. The inspiration for this particular system came from real-life tactics and strategies that the MoH developers culled from their research during the process of making the title. Much of their presentation hinged on this feature of the multiplayer, I assume to set it apart from FPSs that I brought up earlier.
The Fire Team System came into play only a few times, and I was in the booth for a good half-hour or so. The features of respawning on my buddy and viewing his position from anywhere on the map extended our longevity between deaths, but I did not see any other benefits. My previous experience with FPSs has hardwired me to act as a Rambo-esque lone gun, slaying anyone in my path with total disregard to my teammates; my only focus being on attaining victory through terminating the enemy with extreme prejudice. Did this new buddy system curtail those behaviors? I would say, slightly.
Like other FPSs that I have played, it was all turn-your-brain-off-and-have-a-good-fracking-time fun. With some more versatility in the maps and loadouts, there could be the potential for an engaging experience. The effort is there, but ultimately, Medal of Honor: Warfighter could suffer from overlapping with two powerhourses of IPs that already dominate the genre of console first-person shooters on a yearly basis. A steep hill to climb, indeed.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter is scheduled to be released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC on October 23rd, 2012 in the United States, and three days later in Europe. A Wii U version is also in development.