Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond First Impressions On The Classic FPS’ Return
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond finally drops next week. We got an early look at the beginning stages of the campaign and a few hours with multiplayer
We are only a few short days away from the launch of Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond. It’s a series that used to churn out quality shooters like clockwork but has been MIA since 2012’s Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Now, the team at Respawn is bringing it back–and taking it to VR, while they’re at it. Recently, I was able to sit down with an early build of the game and play through a bit of the single-player, as well as hop into some multiplayer and check out a few bits of the short documentaries they’ve put together for the Gallery. Before we get to it, make sure you check out some of the multiplayer in action.
In addition to Above and Beyond’s single-player campaign, you can master the distinctive handling of a host of WWII weapons and test yourself against opponents in five multiplayer modes on sites across Europe.
Charge into history when Above and Beyond launches Dec 11. pic.twitter.com/RO3z21h5Cm
— Medal of Honor (@medalofhonor) December 2, 2020
The first thing to note about Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond is that the file size, at least in this early build, is absolutely massive. Expect to spend quite a bit of time downloading it if you’re hoping to play on launch day. Hopefully, you don’t have a data cap or this is going to eat up quite a chunk of it. But what really matters is how it plays.
For the preview, I was able to play through the first two missions in the campaign. However, it’s important to note that each mission is filled with several short vignettes to play through. This is helpful because it lets you easily hop out if you’re feeling a little queasy. I didn’t keep time or anything, but most missions probably clock in at somewhere around 30-45 minutes, which each vignette taking anywhere from 5-15 minutes. Some of these are simple dialog dumps, while others really ramp up the action.
Obviously, this is an FPS game. You’re going to do a lot of shooting. If you’ve played any other shooters in VR, this is going to feel pretty familiar. Once you get used to physically reloading guns and actually using iron sights, it becomes second nature. The immersion really sings when you can use the environment in interesting ways.
For example, one early mission takes place on a moving train. You need to work your way to the back to save one of your allies. Each door is a sliding door. So, of course, I spent the entire level using them as cover as I moved through each car. It’s not something new for VR shooters, but it still feels cool when you do it.
Speaking of feeling cool, this is another area where Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond excels. Several times in the early parts of the game, Respawn does a great job of using the medium to provide a spectacle. Whether it’s a train flying over your head or catching a gun tossed at you in slow motion, the devs know how to use that immersion to really suck you in.
On the multiplayer front, you’re talking to the wrong guy if you want it compared to other current games in the genre. I honestly can’t remember the last time I played a Call of Duty or Battlefield game. That being said, I am here to tell you that I had a blast with the short time I was able to play.
Now, it’s important to be clear with this. I’m not sold on Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond having long-term competitive chops. Is this going to become the next big e-sport? It seems unlikely. However, I really dig the map design and being able to physically move around cover adds an interesting twist.
That said, I do think a few things could be better. There’s a mode called Mad Bomber where you’re trying to set off your bombs while stopping the opponents. Since it’s in VR, I was expecting to place my bomb in all kinds of creative places. Unfortunately, it seems a bit more structured than I’d like. Of course, maybe I was panicking too much to notice, but it did seem more constrained than I’d expected.
Another potential issue in the preview is that it’s going to be tough to have a huge audience in a VR title like this. If the players aren’t there, these multiplayer maps are going to die off pretty quickly. It doesn’t matter how fun the maps are.
The final thing worth talking about is the Gallery. These are a series of short films that tell the story of different World War 2 vets. As always, it’s a bit weird to go from playing at war to listening to vets talk about all the hardships they’ve gone through. And, given that massive file size, it would make a ton of sense to me to break these out.
From a quality standpoint, however, the docs are excellent. One really neat thing they’ve added in is the ability to put you in real-world locations through a 360° camera. It was moving to virtually visit an actual gravesite that you learn about in one of the shorts. It’s just offputting to then have a laugh playacting at war right after.
As a package, Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond is full of promise. The single-player campaign is full of moments that take advantage of VR. Multiplayer probably won’t take over the world, but it is a fun way to spend an afternoon. If the team cleans up some of the bugs I’ve noticed in the preview version, this could be another solid title for VR fans.
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond comes to VR via PC on December 11, 2020.