Medal of Honor: Warfighter Hands-on (PC)

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I believe there’s a sleeping giant in the videogame industry. We’ve heard it loudly grousing to itself as it suffers through an uneasy slumber. We may have even seen it without really realising it. But it’s there and every time it shifts its weight, we feel the aftershock

When this giant awakes, however, and when it begins to move freely and fluently without drowsy restraint, I believe we’re going to bear witness to the rise of a monstrous competitor in the first-person shooter market.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter is a sleeping giant indeed, and while we haven’t yet felt its full affect with trailers and doses of released information, when the game launches in October this year EA and Danger Close will be letting loose a beast that players will meet in the singleplayer campaign and eventually master in multiplayer.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter Screenshot 1

During E3 2012 El33tonline attended a demonstration and hands-on session for Medal of Honor: Warfighter which acted as a crash course introduction to the game’s multiplayer classes, an all-new competitive and co-operative online mode, as well as a single multiplayer map.

Presented by lead multiplayer designer at Danger Close, Kristoffer Bergqvist, and with a pre-recorded presence by studio executive producer Greg Goodrich (who appeared in a video to get us pumped up for Warfighter), we received an overview of the classes and specific abilities we would have access to in the E3 multiplayer demo.

First up is the Polish GROM assault class, which Danger Close say “packs a punch” and is a great way to introduce yourself to the world of Warfighter multiplayer. Using the HK416 M320 grenade launcher, this class can call in the help of an AH-6 LittleBird for air support as its ‘Support Action’ (Warfighter’s version of Killstreaks).

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Support Actions in Medal of Honor: Warfighter are based on your score, which can be racked up with kills, achieving and capturing objectives, healing team-mates and other in-game actions which contribute to your ‘Score Chain.’ Once you’ve accumulated enough points, you’ll be able to take advantage of class-specific abilities including that LittleBird air support of the GROM.

The Australian SASR Pointman, meanwhile, will fulfil your needs for surprise and speed, which Danger Close says is necessary because, in the real world, these soldiers are on the frontline of a conflict and are the most exposed. They use the Steyr Aug assault rifle and can equip ‘heavy hitter’ rounds for twenty percent additional damage, while their Support Action is something called an ‘Air Burst’ mortar strike.

The Canadian JTF-2 Gunner would work well with the Pointman because this class excels in suppression tactics and cover fire to effectively provide support to team-mates while using an M249 light machine gun, which allows players to move into a prone stance for increased accuracy. The Black Op Support Action interestingly allows you to instantly respawn in any strategic area. Very nice!

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The US OGA Spec Ops class is the fastest of all the soldiers as well as the most adaptive, says Danger Close. The Spec Ops are able to survey the field of battle and ‘strike before a plan has been formed,’ while equipped with the HK P7 and able to call in an A-10 Strafe air support attack as a Support Action.

The US SFOD-D Demolition Unit causes chaos and crushes opposition with shotguns and the powerful Milkor M32 – awarded as this class’ Support Action – and can deploy extra armaments for additional body protection.

Last of the classes on show during the E3 demo of Warfighter was the ever-popular US Navy SEAL Sniper, ‘universally feared for their innate ability to stalk and target’ enemies while picking off the opposition ‘from extreme distances’ in concealed locations. The SEAL Sniper has access to the McMillan Tac-50 attack sniper rifle, as well as the Switchblade UAV for an aerial assault (said to be “devastating”) which acts as the Support Action.

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While this is only a small set of the available classes, Danger Close says that there are over 72 operator and class combinations available in Medal of Honor: Warfighter multiplayer, and the team worked with over 24 real-world operators from the special operations community to bring authenticity to their in-game representations. Danger Close benefited from these soldiers’ experience in the field by learning of their particular mindset in a conflict while also finding out about the incredible range of weapon customisations real operators use.

To this end, Warfighter will include a wide variety of weapons and parts to unlock in order to provide a massive array of customisation options. Danger Close has been working with specific weapon parts manufacturers to bring authenticity to this area of the game, too, and ensure you can swap out parts and tweak your load-out to your heart’s content.

Medal of Honor: Warfighters’ multiplayer component has been in the works for nearly two years, says Kristoffer Bergqvist, but the team was visibly very happy to finally get a chance to show off this portion of the game for the first time ever. As we were invited to the demo stations (PCs with both an Xbox 360 controller and keyboard/mouse option), the available members of EA and Danger Close were keen to dart about the room answering questions and generally help out where they could.

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On show at E3 was a mode called Sector Control which tasks teams of players with capturing and holding three control points on the map, easily located by following your on-screen heads-up display. The map that we were playing was ‘Pirate Town,’ set off the coast of Somalia.

What’s even more interesting about Warfighter multiplayer is that the game will support what Danger Close call ‘Fire Teams,’ where two players will pair up together and benefit from a few great talents while playing in a match, including the ability to see each other’s silhouette so you’re always aware of one another’s position, as well as swap ammo.

The most interesting feature of Fire Teams, however, is the way respawning works when paired with another player. If your fellow buddy player is killed, you can choose to stay out of sight of enemies (in order to stay alive) and your friend will respawn directly on your position when they’re ready.

The other option is to go in guns blazing to hunt down and kill the player who took down your buddy. If you’re successful, your friend will respawn instantly without having to wait for the timer to tick down. Awesome!

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Using the 2.0 version of DICE’s Frostbite Engine, Medal of Honor: Warfighter looks the part – every bit as visually impressive as something like Battlefield 3, except to my eyes Warfighter looked more detailed, sharp and (thanks to the map we were playing on) colourful and vibrant, with micro-destruction of objects in the environment fully present, too. We were playing PCs that were probably cutting edge gaming rigs, but there’s no reason to believe Warfighter won’t look spectacular on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as well.

Sprinting in and out of the ruined buildings and more open seaside areas of Pirate Town is a paranoia-inducing experience when you take into account the different classes and their abilities – if you run into a smaller area, you could be taken out by the shotgun of Demolition Unit player, but if you run out into the open you’re just as likely to be put down by a Sniper. Picking the right class and becoming comfortable with its skills is going to be key to succeeding in Warfighter multiplayer.

Also key will be working as tight-knit unit with the Fire Team system and keeping communication between you and your buddy up high. Choosing the right moments to help your buddy respawn instantly (by being more aggressive) and waiting it out seems to be vital, too, and you’ll need to pay attention to your objectives (and your current points) to influence that risk/reward decision.

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In the full game, Medal of Honor: Warfighter will include 12 special operatives spread out over six classes, with the Swedish SOG, British SAS, Norwegian FSK/HJK, German KSK, South Korean UDT/SEAL and the Russian SPETSNAZ (Alfa Group) making up the remainder of the Tier 1 forces.

Introducing myself as a South African while speaking with Bergqvist after the demo, he casually told me that it was a pity that there weren’t any South African special forces in Warfighter but the team had to choose from a long list of operatives, and select who they thought would best fit the game. I joked that South African operatives could be added later as downloadable content, and Bergqvist didn’t say no…

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From our time with Medal of Honor: Warfighter multiplayer, it’s clear other that first-person shooters releasing later this year will have a very difficult time keeping up with the features, pace, visuals and authenticity of the game.

With the addition of a new hardcore mode called ‘Real Ops’ (which removes HUD and other elements to increase the difficulty online) and more modes and maps to be revealed in the future, Warfighter is going to own the FPS market in October and build up a swell of support ahead of the other shooters, effectively allowing this sleeping giant to make its presence felt.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter is out on October 23rd in the US and October 26th in Europe and the UK.

Look over El33tonline’s previous coverage of the game for screenshots, extra details and videos, and continue on down below for the multiplayer trailer and an official video interview with Kristoffer Bergqvist.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter – Multiplayer Gameplay

Medal of Honor: Warfighter – E3 2012 Multiplayer Interview