Medal of Honor Multiplayer Hands-On

Posted on September 9, 2010

DICE has been tuning Medal of Honor’s multiplayer since the June beta. We sample the four multiplayer modes on offer.

Development duties for the multiplayer component of Medal of Honor have been given to DICE, the studio behind Battlefield: Bad Company 2. With the success of that game’s squad-based multiplayer offering, it’s easy to see why. Making a dent in the military first-person shooter market–a market where the all-conquering Call of Duty franchise looms large–is no mean feat. If anyone is up to the task, it might be Stockholm-based, EA-owned DICE.

Medal of Honor’s multiplayer action has been built with a tweaked version of DICE’s Frostbite engine–the engine that powered Bad Company 2. Much of that tweaking has been done since the multiplayer modes were offered up for testing in beta form back in June and July. The early beta gave more time for feedback and fixes, according to Patrick Liu, the game’s multiplayer producer. “We didn’t really have time to do that in Battlefield: Bad Company 2,” he says. Feedback from the beta has given rise to “thousands of fixes,” says Liu, ranging from a boost to the recoil of weapons to more consistent hit detection. Support actions earned with kill streaks have been balanced, making them harder to achieve than in the beta. Weapon pick-ups have also been changed, so players can now seize weapons from fallen players rather than seek out ammo crates. The front end has received a cosmetic overhaul as well, making the menus and heads-up display “more sober,” according to Liu.

These adjustments are about refining a multiplayer military FPS experience for an audience that, you suspect, already knows what it likes. Seemingly, Medal of Honor aims to refine, not revolutionise, the genre. Bad Company 2’s extensively destructive environments–a key point of difference in its multiplayer action–don’t even feature. Instead, the game checks the major boxes: There are three classes, four modes, and eight maps, with all of the modes playable across most of the maps. There’s persistent progression, with unlock trees for each weapon and your character ranking up toward elite Tier 1 status. There’s also support for up to 12-on-12-player matches, plus team-focused offensive and defensive kill streak bonuses. The classes, as outlined in our earlier multiplayer preview, are rifleman, sniper, and special ops that can be played on either the side of the coalition forces or the insurgents–that is, the Taliban.

Team Assault is Medal of Honor’s classic team deathmatch mode. We sampled it in Garmzir Town: a rural settlement of clay huts beside a river spanned by a couple of bridges. Though much has been tuned since the beta, the basic experience won’t be unrecognisable to beta testers: fragile soldiers (or insurgent fighters) on compact maps make for twitchy multiplayer action where cover is crucial. Spawning is nearly instant, offsetting the frustration of any near-instant deaths, though certain maps and modes encouraged the dominant team to just crowd in on an enemy spawn point. For the sniper class, the multiplayer experience is markedly different from sniping in the single-player campaign, with different controls for scope zoom and steadying the sights. The lack of a prone position will be a complaint for some players, though more will lament the scarce vehicle action and absence of a kill cam.

Sector Control mode adds a tactical layer, creating sectors on the map that teams need to dominate to gather points. We hit the Kunar Base for this mode: a compact, up-close map filled with trenches scattered with crates and camouflage netting. On the horizon were hilltops covered in smoke and struck by occasional lightning. The tight corners and enclosed spaces meant plenty of sudden deaths as we flocked to our target sector; shotguns were especially effective down in the trenches, as well as melee attacks (with an axe, in the case of Taliban fighters). More often than not, raising your head above the parapet meant getting it shot off by a sniper. We also tried the Sector Control mode in the Kabul City Ruins: an urban map featuring rubble and burning car wrecks. Here, defensive and offensive team-centric kill streak bonuses came to our aid, with flak vests and full metal jacket ammo being “handed out” to team members as we progressed.

Objective Raid, on the other hand, is an asymmetric multiplayer mode that involves capturing or defending two objectives on the map. The attacking side can go after the objectives in either order, and with the small maps, the mode makes for very short matches–three minutes on average, according to the multiplayer producer. On the Kandahar Marketplace map, we took turns to defend and attack objectives alpha and bravo. We did so among the market stands and narrow alleys, with a mounted M60 to alternately take cover from and fend off attackers with. Spawn points were outside of the walls of the marketplace at the edges of the map, with multiple entry points. On another map, Diwagal Camp, we fought from a cave network into the adjacent village, taking both objectives in a couple of minutes; the attacking team loses if it is held off for a full five minutes.

Combat Mission, the last of the four modes, is the least familiar and most promising. Like Objective Raid, Combat Mission is asymmetric, but where that mode is about short, fast-paced rounds, this one is slower and more methodical, with a series of story-based objectives. In the snowy Shahihkot Mountains, the side that plays as US rangers must seek out a downed Chinook helicopter, capture the area, and then complete a mission while being harried by the opposition. This mission involves destroying an ammo depot, a mortar station, and an antiaircraft gun so another Chinook can land for extraction. For this, the rifleman class’ smoke grenades were useful for getting safely through open areas. As the US fighters pushed forward, the spawn points moved forward with them, but the team had a finite number of respawns; if these were used up, the insurgent team–which had been fighting the coalition forces at every turn–wins the match.

The Shahikot Mountains map was the biggest we tried, with new areas being opened up as each objective was cleared. The second Combat Mission map, Mazar-i-Sharif Airfield, was littered with the remains of old Russian tanks and planes. It also featured some of the game’s scant vehicle action: a tank to temporarily support the attacking American forces. For the attackers, the mission meant fighting through a roadblock, a hangar, through the hangar yard, and onto a control tower. Of these, the hangar yard was the toughest objective to crack, with grounded planes providing patchy cover.

For those players who don’t find the multiplayer punishing enough, there will also be a Hardcore mode: a suite of settings–fully customisable on the PC, less so on the console–to make things tougher. This includes friendly-fire damage, no health regeneration, no ammo pick-up from enemies, no crosshairs on weapons, and no minimap. According to Liu, Medal of Honor becomes a “completely different game” with this mode. We’ll have to wait until the mid-October release to see if this is the case–and whether Medal of Honor’s multiplayer can make its mark in a crowded genre.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot

Medal of Honor Multiplayer Hands-Onwas posted by Jane Douglas on Fri, 24 Sep 2010 06:04:00 -0700

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Categories: Game News, Game Secrets

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