World War 3 is a scary thing to consider, isn’t it?
The Farm 51 think so too and have conveyed this through a frighteningly bleak battle simulator that is as confusing as it is fun.
I came into the game about 2 weeks after it was launched which meant that in my first match I appeared to be the only one who didn’t know where to go and who to shoot.
In the absence of understanding I shot at everything that moved but even so, I died 16 times and got 4 kills. After about an hour of play I still had no idea where the choke points were on any map, I had no idea who was in my squad and what the hell I should have been doing.
The biggest issue facing the game currently is the lack of any kind of ‘noob’ support. For example, no one talks, literally there is no communication between members of your team, even when some of them are American.
Americans are probably the friendliest players in most games and are willing to have a conversation with just about anyone, yet, in World War 3, they fell silent, I was alone.
The maps are pretty big, I had no idea where to go and when I worked that out I didn’t know how to get there. When I worked that out, I predominantly went alone, I predominantly faced the enemy alone. It wasn’t too bad though, most other people were doing the same.
So why is that an issue, why is that worth mentioning? Well, World War 3 presents itself as a modern conflict with tactics, techniques and procedures inspired by true combat engagements. A gameplay experience aimed at presenting the actual feel of modern warfare. Not only that but World War 3 is being developed by competitive gamers who say they grew up playing FPS games.
Surely people who grew up playing competitively would understand the value of communicating with your team?
Playing as a lone wolf in World War 3 appears to be the norm already, this is the polar opposite to what the developers wanted the game to become and it certainly jars with the games mechanics.
After a few more hours I found a couple of people like me who wanted to play as a unit. We ended up joining my discord so that we could talk consistantly and then recruited decent people until we had a squad. At this point, World War 3 showed me what it has to offer.
This starts with the effects of the metagame. Represented as the mission select map you will see a global map showing the various cities you can battle in, every action you take in the individual battle, every destroyed vehicle, every kill, every bullet fired, every achievement affects the big picture presented on a constantly evolving, interactive war map eventually covering the entire planet.
Working as a team you understand what makes World War 3 such a great game, the tactical aspect of the game, setting up as you take an objective to cover all entrances. Taking out the lone wolves as they tear into the are blind.
The Farm 51 claim that they have developed the most authentic bullet vs. armour system in the FPS genre to date. They say this was achieved through years of research and development with military professionals. Ballistics, a weight system, full body awareness, vehicle physics, and an extensive customization system all implemented to affect the gameplay in a meaningful way. That is developer speak for “the sharp end of your gun does real damage vs opponents”. In practice it is like playing Squad or Arma, bullets kill people fast and for me, I like this.
I cannot play games where people are bullet sponges. Being shot in the foot would stop someone running, being shot in the chest would put them down, it wouldn’t allow them to shoot back and possibly shoot you in the head, which would in turn make your screen go red until you “recovered” some health.
There is no class system as such, you take the gear you like, combine it with other gear you like and play your way. If you want to play a sniper role just grab that gear and snipe away, if you are more close quarters you will want an appropriate weapon but unfortunately this freedom is also an issue for new players. Conditioning from the genre itself means that World War 3’s freedom to create class is just another layer of confusion for the uninitiated.
Worse is that joining the fight for the first time you are asked if you want to fight as an attacker or defender, great, that’s a brilliant option to allow me to choose how I want to play, but there is no context, no way of knowing what’s needed other than a percentage counter for what the rest of your team is doing, no explanation of why though.
The gameplay itself reminds me a little of Battlefield 4. Two teams fighting on a massive map with highlighted objectives and individual squads deciding what they will do. Where World War 3 differs from the Battlefield series is familiarity.
Battlefield started out as a simple single player experience for most and evolved into what it has become, people have been there for the evolution. World War 3 is as complex as a modern shooter without the pedigree.
I want to be clear here, I really like World War 3, it’s a fantastic game and I want to see it become a success. I am speaking about a game in early access so this is not a review, this is a critical look at a the game you will be getting into and whilst it may seem like I have nothing but complaints, most of my criticisms are just things that you can fix by playing. The biggest issue I think is to harbour the community, to make sure they stick around and to get them to work together.
If I were scoring this game today it would get over 80% but I am sure with some tweaks and future developments it will do very well.