EA was setting up a volatile situation, putting gamers into a room giving us all alcohol, and pitting us against each other in a multiplayer match. It sounds like a recipe for disaster and multiple trips to the ER, but everyone managed to remain civil except for a few bits of smack-talk that floated around.
Prior to diving headfirst into Warfighter, we were treated with a short presentation detailing the classes to choose from and that was really it. I respect a company that allows a game to speak for itself, and that’s exactly what developer Danger Close did. One thing that really struck me about this hands-on demo was the option for using a 360 controller, or a mouse and keyboard setup. The correct choice was obvious, and after a quick glimpse at the PC controls, I went to town on a bunch of other journalists. Having the option open for a multilayered experience was great.
The most notable and interesting addition to the Medal of Honor series is the buddy system. When you play multiplayer you are allowed to pick a buddy, and for the sake of the hands-on event, I was partnered with the gentleman sitting next to me. If you’ve ever played a multiplayer FPS, you can assume what was running through my head - Is this person terrible? Will they be the guy who screams racial slurs into the mic? Why is he using the 360 controller? Oh god, we’re going to lose.
When you have a buddy in Warfighter, you’ll always be able to see where they are, even if they have traversed to the opposite end of the map. This version of Medal of Honor has done away with the medic, leaving it up to buddies to heal one another when in close proximity. It’s a bold move, and frankly, I’m glad. Women are always expected to be the medic when it comes to FPS titles, so I gave a giant middle finger to preconceived gender notions and went with a sniper.
If your buddy is shot down in cold blood, you can choose to retreat to a safe area and after a cooldown, your buddy will respawn behind you (much like in Battlefield 3), or you can take a more aggressive stance and pursue the enemy in a chance to exact revenge. If you’re successful, the cooldown period is tossed out the window and your buddy reappears instantly.
Warfighter is gorgeous in the Frostbite 2 engine, so expect this game to look prettier than Battlefield 3, and it ran like a dream on the provided PCs. With no invisible walls, the battle feels more organic giving players boundaries they are required to stay within, a gameplay mechanic that has been around for awhile, but I will continue to love forever.
We played a control point map with three flags our team had to keep raised, and the fight was actually well-balanced. The map was very tight, but with only twelve people playing, six to a team, the battle struck a perfect balance between Call of Duty’s run-and-gun style and Battlefield’s slower tactical approach.
Surprisingly, my buddy and I were a good pair. It turned out he was a veteran (in real life, with legitimate guns and whatnot), so he had a more tactical mind for our coupled assault. He made quite a lot of remarks during the game, saying how realistic the combat was, and that the weaponry felt very natural. Having no real combat experience of my own, I’m going to just blindly believe whatever he said.
For the latter three-quarters of the match, we were the leading team, which is considerably different than simply being the best on whatever team happens to win. If you’ve ever done incredibly well in a multiplayer match, but the rest of your team fell disappointingly short, you’ll be happy to see accolades doled out based on the best duo in addition to the overall team.
We high fived as our team won and we took first place in the duo listing, and I’d like to believe that it was a well fought war, but at times, it did feel a little like shooting fish in a barrel.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter is dropping on October 23, 2012 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and at some point, the Wii U.