• SourceCode: A Preview of Warface

    First of all lets put the record straight before I delve into this game some, shall we? Warface is in early beta, therefore everything I say here is subject to change and improvement as time goes on.

    Alright, now that we have that out of the way: Welcome to SourceCode, my weekly attempt at looking like I know a few things about games and the industry as a whole. This week I will be previewing Warface, a free 2 play team-up between Crytek and Trion Worlds. Yeah I know what you are thinking about those words “free 2 play”. We all know that those words are usually associated with another phrase: “pay 2 win.” We have all seen so many great games go down the toilet because of these types of business models. However, before we get to that, lets talk cold hard game mechanics and features.

    The first thing you will notice when you fire up Warface is that it's completely browser based. The whole game runs inside of your browser. The way they go about this is they have designed their own website called GFACE.

    It is a mix between a social networking site and game launcher. It is no doubt their take on EA DICE's Battlelog website, which I know many people just absolutely love (Ha! Just kidding!... I just couldn't resist). However, unlike EA DICE's Battlelog, I was amazed to see how well it ran. Though I wasn't impressed at the few long waits for it to download and initialize the game (I run Google Chrome and I had no problems by the way). Being browser-based, however, does not limit the game at all; you will still get the full-screen experience once you enter into a server and start racking up those kills.

    Warface is a combination of a few things: It has all the classic signs of a multiplayer arena first person shooter, combined with a class and ranking system... but that’s where it gets a little confusing. You gain EXP and level up like any other game, but besides guns (which have to be purchassed using real or in-game cash, just like battlefield heroes, and only last a couple of weeks), unlocking items is only connected to the amount of EXP you have gained in that particular sitting. You choose before a match begins from a choice of three unlocks. Which ever unlock you choose is where the EXP of that particular match is going towards unlocking.

    These items can range from a pair of shoes, to a shiny new scope for your rifle. I still don't fully understand it, but it is an interesting approach and it has grown on me as time goes on. Another cool thing to note is the game's on-the-fly in-game attachment swapping, which was very well implemented with Cryteks engine.

    Warface is surprisingly well optimized! I know, right? A beta that's optimized! I bet you are thinking, "HA no way!" But you would be wrong. It blew my mind, because, after all, the game does run on CryEngine 3, which if Crysis 3 was any indication, my hopes for a decent frame rate were quickly dashed. I was wrong. I was able to run the game on all high settings, and never dipped below 60 fps. You monster rig builders out there with 120Hz monitors, never fear, you are also fully supported with a 120Hz refresh rate option built in. All in all I had no problems with performance; the game just simply runs.

    Servers are easily accessed, being client side and all, but due to the very limited amount of players online, right now, it remains to be seen as to how reliable they will continue to be once they open the doors to the rest of the public. Actual game servers are client side with anyone being able to make a lobby. However, there is a very nasty issue in which the game sometimes lags very badly and your frames will suffer a 0 FPS crash for anywhere between 10 seconds on up to a full minute. Since that issue is more of a server loading issue, I don't feel as though it would be right to knock the game's performance for it, but it is non-the-less annoying and sometimes causes your team to loose. I can only guess this is because it is a client-side system and it simply cant keep up with the load, as everyone’s character loads up at the same time.

    The game has 4 game types which adds a bit of deviation to the game. There is Storm (my least favorite of the 4), TDM (Team Death Match), Free for All, and Plant the Bomb (yes, they really call it that). Three of those are pretty self explanatory, but Storm isn't really so. In Storm there is a defending team and an attacking team. The attacking team has to force their way through the defending team and to capture a central point on the map, so that they can proceed to the next central point. This is where I think the maps fail to keep up with the actual mechanics of the game. There are far too many choke points... in fact that is pretty much what the Storm maps are: one big choke point. Needless to say there is a lot of camping and it is irritating to the point of madness. It is a great concept, but very poorly executed. I found Plant the Bomb to be the best out of the 4 game modes, and it is really where the game shines.

    Warface has some interesting character control mechanics, though if you are a fan of twitch-based games you will struggle here. The controls feel like your avatar is burdened by all the gear he carries. There for it is not a game of who can get there faster than the other guy, most of the time, but can you control your self and anticipate the moves of the other guy well enough to come out on top. So say you got this guy coming behind you trying to shoot you. Well you better run to a better position because you won't be able to turn around fast enough to do anything about it. It is all about gaining and regaining the advantage. Being used to more twitch based controls from games like Battlefield, I struggled to keep pace, sometimes, against more cunning adversaries. It was, however, a very nice change of pace and even though the maps are small, there is a constant struggle on what the best move is going to be.

    Speaking of small maps... Due to their limited size, two things quickly became apparent to me, and it got old faster than a "your mom" joke: Shotguns and sniper rifles. You do a good job rushing with a shotgun, and you can wipe out a team in no time. Find a decent spot to hide, and you can plink heads with your sniper rifle all day with little to no concern of being flanked. It is frustrating beyond all belief how overpowered these weapons turned out to be, and dashed my hopes of playing a fair game.

    Fair game is another issue, because a fair game this is not. If a guy has even the slightest bit of a level and EXP advantage on you, he will not let you forget it. The game has no built-in program to help match people of the same level or skill. This might change in the future, but I really don't anticipate it and I actually, for once, think this is a game that could benefit from such a system. The store comes into play here quiet a bit, too, because I am pretty sure 90% of the people that had that advantage on me used real cash to get it. Yes here we are, finally, at the the "pay 2 win" aspect. I still cant understand why nobody has perfected it in the hardcore gaming realm, and it continues to plague the genre with Warface. In the store is anything and everything you would ever want or need, and all can be unlocked with a quick transaction with your credit card for some GFACE Credits.

    So, as it stands right now: The game is surprisingly optimized, ran great, and was a refreshing change of pace. But with the "pay 2 win" shop model, small maps, overpowered shotguns and sniper rifles, and the movement being a bit wonky (which I personally didn't mind much), I would say enter at your own risk.

    Until next week, this has been SourceSkills with a SourceCode input. CYA! And really, Trion, what were you thinking when you made Storm mode? I mean honestly!