Insurgency preview: Hardcore shooter that needs some more time to marinate
Insurgency – the first-person tactical shooter from New World Interactive – is currently a Steam Early Access game. Insurgency was originally a Source Engine mod, but this follow up is now in Beta leading up to its release in 2014. I was given the opportunity to try my hand at this effort, and here's what I thought...
It's a hybrid of Hardcore mode from Call of Duty, Red Orchestra and Counter-Strike. Honestly, the game is a mixed bag of positives and negatives. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it does offer a shooting experience that a niche group of gamers should enjoy. Of course, it's not without its share of problems.
The big thing holding me back in my time with the game was the community – or the lack of it, I should say. It's in beta, and the only way to get early access right now is to buy the game; I understand that. But I was at the mercy of the 20-something other players that were online at the same time as myself. There is a co-op mode for up to six players, but I didn't get any time with that. Instead, I played the competitive multiplayer modes that support up to 32 players – Firefight, Skirmish, Battle, and Push. All of the game modes require objectives to be taken and defended by both teams; the only changes are the sequence in which you capture and when you get reinforcements.
Controls are standard for a first-person shooter. No complaints there. But gameplay is as hardcore as you could expect. There's no HUD, no crosshairs, no map, and one shot will often kill you. Not many games go this route anymore, so it feels quite refreshing. You need to stick to cover and move at a slower pace, employing flanking tactics if possible. Going in lone wolf is sure to end in death for you. The exclusion of perks and rewards like missile strikes and air drops lends itself well to the stress on teamwork and player skill. That said, I found spawn camping to be heavily prevalent in matches. At times, it got to the point where I just walked away from the keyboard. Without a kill cam, it was also impossible to see where my killer was.
When you enter a game, choose a place/class in one of four four-player squads. What this does is make sure that teams stay somewhat balanced, instead of having, say, a team of shotgun users facing a team of snipers. Each class had different weapons and attachments, and there's a solid amount of options. Insurgency forgoes a leveling system or money system to purchase new weapons. Instead, you get a limited amount of supply points to choose which weapon, weapon attachments and equipment you would like to use. If you can't get everything you want before the match, you can earn more supply points during the match. The beauty of this is that everyone starts on equal footing. The downside is that gamers that like to progress, level up and be rewarded – like myself – won't have any of that here.
Visually, I wasn't too impressed with the game. I used to play Day of Defeat, and I feel Insurgency is only notches better than that. I'm stuck comparing it to other shooters I've played, and even free-to-play shooters have better visuals. Not only did I experience bugs, clipping and severe lag at times, but a lot of players were talking about a problem with the sky malfunctioning and ruining the game. I didn't experience that. But at least five players were trying to help each other with settings to fix the problem.
Insurgency is still in beta, and recent history suggests that the developers frequently update the game, but it doesn't really do anything to draw me away from the games I currently play. For $20, the hardcore gameplay of it doesn't make up for my frustrations with spawn camping and not being that different than what's already offered in other games. The community is so small right now that I'm not quite sure it's worth getting invested in. That said, if you had a group of friends all playing together, and the community grows a bit, some of the game's quirks could be overlooked because a close-knit team would make the matches more enjoyable. Right now, the game needs more time to marinade.
Insurgency is available through Steam for $19.99.