Previously, I detailed my experience with the single player of EA and Danger Close’s Medal of Honor: Warfighter. After our preview of the single player, we sat down again with the staff of EA and Danger Close to hear about the multiplayer experience to be included in the title. Hoffe Bergquist, multiplayer guru at Danger Close, explained to the attendants the features of the multiplayer for Medal of Honor: Warfighter. There are six classes included in the game with their own strengths and weaknesses, including speed of movement, weapons, gadgets, grenades, and score streak abilities. We had access to all of them as we played various levels in real-world locations such as Somalia, Northern Pakistan, and Bosnia.
Over the course of the several hours we had with the multiplayer component, I got to play various match types (both familiar and new). These included “Hot Spot,” a tactical match akin to King of the Hill, “Combat Mission,” a bombing game of attack and defend, “Home Run,” a fresh take on capture the flag, and “Sector Control,” a game type that requires teams to continually compete for control over various areas of the map.
The six classes included everything from the fast-footed and far-ranged sniper class to the slow walking tank of the demolitionist. I tried out all of the classes: each one felt unique and played differently. It took me awhile to get around to the demolitionist, but when I finally did, I never went back. I had finally found the playstyle suited for me: the class power includes a face mask which obscures the view, but allows you to take a great deal of damage. I would then try to kill enough other players to unlock my score streak ability, which gave my character the ability to pull out a grenade launcher and put down everyone within sight. There were segments where I felt like a God, but my reign was short as the faster characters rushed behind me and took me down. Each player around me took to their favorites in what became extremely well-balanced gameplay, each class counter-acting each other in a beautiful display of frantic, fast-paced, trash talk-inducing, enjoyable combat.
The game modes served to further change gameplay. While my demolitionist was great at claiming land in Sector Control, he was less good at capturing the flag in Home Run, which has one team trying to grab one of two flags and return home before getting killed in a no-respawn match. However, I still had a place if I wished to use my demolitionist, as I could simply kill each player of the opposing team and win anyway (which oftentimes brought much more joy than capturing a flag—who needs strategy anyway?) Each of the game modes felt familiar, but unique enough to separate themselves from other popular war games.
Another great feature was the maps. There are only eight of them in the multiplayer, but they feel like much more. This is because the map layout continually changes as you choose different game modes. Bergquist described it in-depth, “There are eight locations chosen to reflect single-player campaign locations, and they change depending on the game mode you’re playing. This is to ensure each map is crafted best for that gametype. In Home Run certain pathways may be blocked off to change the way you strategize, and in another gametype, like Hot Spot, the area of the map you’re playing in might be inaccessible altogether if you were to play in a different gametype.” I experienced what Bergquist had described first hand. Just when I thought I knew a map, we would switch to another gametype and I would have to relearn it. Most noteably was during our Combat Mission that required us to bomb areas or defend certain areas against bombing. As an area would get bombed, a new are would become the target and the previous area would become a non-combat area. In other words, the map was continually changing as the game progressed, depending on what the objective was. I do have one gripe here, which is that since the borders appeared to be changing, where the map ends is never clear until you get a message on your screen that tells you to return to the combat zone. This can sometimes be a major pain, as it’s sometimes unclear where you’re supposed to be going.
One of the most unique features to Medal of Honor: Warfighter was the “buddy system.” Bergquist explained: “We spoke with combat veterans who repeatedly told us about the bond of comradery, and we wanted to include that in the game somehow. The buddy system is an attempt to get players to experience this element of warfare, and it gives the player incentives for doing so.” The buddy system works by giving each player a “buddy,” and affords for mechanical incentives if you work well with your buddy. You will, for example, get extra points for killing near your buddy or working together with them to take down foes. You will also get points if you avenge your buddy when they die. More importantly than that though, is that if your buddy dies, you can help them respawn instantly by ducking out of combat and letting your buddy use you as a spawn point. It encourages cooperative gameplay in a typically free-for-all multiplayer world, without forcing it upon players.
Unlike most of my war sim multiplayer experiences, I felt useful playing Medal of Honor: Warfighter. The classes give enough freedom for players to find a style that works for them. There were a few issues with the game that will no doubt need tweaking, like the borders of the game being better defined, but overall Medal of Honor: Warfighter is shaping up to be the best game in the series. Fans can look for the game on the shelves on the 23rd of October, and Xbox 360 owners can continue to play the beta until 11:59 P.M. on Sunday night.