Medal of Honor: Warfighter Beta Impressions (Xbox 360)
Last week, the Xbox 360 exclusive beta for Medal of Honor: Warfighter went live, weeks ahead of the game’s expected worldwide launch. Danger Close are now in charge of both the singleplayer and the multiplayer, but does it make the game more consistent or does it fall flat on its face?
Firstly, let’s remember that this is a beta release and therefore certain issues and concerns have to be accepted here and there. That being said, the game is merely weeks from launch so the product seen in the beta and the actual released version may not be as different as one may come to hope for.
Warfighter’s beta includes just one map and one multiplayer mode to play on. Hotspot involves two teams attacking and defending a set of objectives randomly chosen from five possible locations. Sarajevo Stadium – the map included – is a dark creation full of abandoned vehicles, shrubbery and minor indoor environments.
While Hotspot is a decent enough mode that keeps both teams on their toes with regards to not knowing which area to attack or defend next, Sarajevo Stadium is a bland, uninviting map that probably wasn’t the best choice to use for a beta (reminds one of the choices for the BF3 beta – ed.). Occasionally it can play well but it’s mostly dark, covered in bushes (this may or may not invite the dwelling types) and a wholly disappointing vibe. There surely have to be better maps than this in the game, or so one would hope.
The beta also includes a wide roster of selectable weaponry, ranging from assault rifles, submachine guns to sniper rifles and light machine guns. Weapons types can be equipped by selecting the appropriate soldier class, and from there can be modified with different scopes, barrel types and so forth. Different classes also have access to different equipment, such as the sniper with his proximity mines and the heavy gunner with his mini-grenades.
Being able to modify your weapon to such a degree that Warfighter allows, is easily one of the strongest points in the beta. There is a huge and impressively varied selection of modifications at hand, as well as usable weapons. Customizing weapons is hardly a feature exclusive to the game but it’s done extremely well and you can sometimes spend more time getting your attachments right than actually playing. The problem, however, is navigating the horrendous interface to get there.
Warfighter employs a user interface that is quite frankly a cluttered, unsightly and confusing mess. New players will get lost among the huge array of menu options and those with less-than-stellar eyesight will struggle to read the minuscule text without having to get within an inch of the screen.
The game also doesn’t make the concept of choosing nationalities and the soldier classes as clear as it should, resulting in confusion as to what does what. Even when you understand it more, it becomes a chore to do what you intend to with the interface proving to be an immobile obstruction. It might not be so bad on a PC screen but for console players, it just doesn’t work.
When you look past the flawed map and other issues, Warfighter actually plays rather well. The character movements are fluid, easy to get accustomed to if you have experience with other, bigger shooters and the controls are strong on the whole.
While Warfighter benefits from a fluid character control system, it lacks elsewhere. The spawn system, for example, is just rubbish. You can spawn on a ‘buddy’ (each team is split into squad-like segments consisting of two players each) or back at the base, but either way you’re likely to get killed before you’ve raised your rifle.
The beta also uses a ‘support streak’ system that rewards kills and team actions. The further you go without being killed, the more powerful streak you’ll unlock. Just like 2010′s Medal of Honor, you can choose between an offensive streak, such as a mortar strike, or a defensive streak, like a boost of ammunition for the team.
While the system works well for rewarding the style of play you’re aiming for, it still feels somewhat out of place in a mode like Hotspot. Hotspot relies on the teams working for the objectives, though some may be inclined to sit back and farm them for kills to unlock their next streak, which unfortunately happens too often. In something like Team Deathmatch, it would fit but not necessarily in something as team-focused as Hotspot.
Alongside that, Warfighter is also a very average looking game. It may just be that the map included in the beta is mostly dark and may disguise the true graphical prowess, but the beta doesn’t look that remarkable. Certain textures look bland and the graphics just aren’t that special. They’re not terrible, but leave the Battlefield comparisons at the door because it doesn’t compare.
You may have also heard that Warfighter is running on the Frostbite 2 engine featured in Battlefield 3. Naturally you’d expect a level of destructible environments on par with that, but you’d be wrong. While certain walls can be destroyed and certain buildings can be collapsed, the majority of the map remains rigid and solid. It’s a big disappointment and makes the map feel even more unremarkable than it already does.
Just like 2010′s MoH, the multiplayer is an attempt to have the Battlefield experience play well in a Call of Duty-esque environment. It’s not as obvious as it was two years ago, but the feeling is still there. As a result, playing Warfighter feels uninspired because you’ve likely played it elsewhere before and better.
With Black Ops 2 and Halo 4 merely weeks proceeding it, the focus will be on the more formidable competition and Warfighter will be left in the cold.
On the whole, Warfighter’s beta is a mixed bag. Some may enjoy the ‘samey samey’ approach while others will find the lack of innovation a turn-off. While the beta plays somewhat well, it’s hard not to think that you can get a far superior experience by just playing the games it takes inspiration from, and that is a problem for a title entering a genre as crowded as the one it’s in.