While the Battlefield series ably provides military shooter enthusiasts with all of the gigantic, vehicle-based, full-scale warfare that they could want, Medal of Honor has always been the franchise where EA can give gamers multiplayer skirmishes that are smaller-in-scope, but just as enjoyable and intense as larger battles.
During gamescom 2012 El33tonline went hands-on with a multiplayer game mode in Medal of Honor: Warfighter that epitomises lightning-quick rounds of intense multiplayer action. Called ‘Home Run,’ this mode is but one of the ways you can play Warfighter online, but after playing for only 15 minutes it could very well end up being my favourite.
To begin with, Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s Home Run mode asks you to choose from one of six available classes, namely the Assaulter, Pointman, Heavy Gunner, Spec Ops, Sniper or Demolition units (more details on each follow below). Following our
hands-on time with Warfighter during E3 2012, we know that there are a total of 12 operators (from the US Navy SEAL and British SAS, to the Australian SASR and Polish GROM), which combined with the six classes makes for a total of 72 combinations.
A video presentation by creative director of multiplayer at Danger Close, Kristoffer Bergqvist, enforced the idea that this kind of choice and access to different abilities allows players to tailor their style of play to what suits them, and mixing and matching the different operators and classes together (along with the multitude of earned weapon and attachment unlocks) will truly enable you to craft a unique operator of your own.
There’s an extra incentive to perform well on the field of battle, too, because Danger Close has included 193 countries of the United Nations in Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s implementation of the stat-tracking service, Battlelog, and when you fight online you’ll do so under the banner of your own country! Certain actions in multiplayer will earn you tokens that go towards your country’s tally, which you can then spend on improving your own soldier.
Danger Close has said in the past that the team wants to instil the same level of national pride in shooter players as a sports game like FIFA is able to bring to its players, and the addition of a ‘meta game’ where the good name of your country is at stake seems like a great way to do it!
As mentioned, we played Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s ‘Sector Control’ multiplayer mode at E3, which sees small teams holding control points on the map. Home Run, however, is a very different game type that demands your full, undivided attention at all times. Split into two teams, players on one side will be tasked with defending two flags while trying to stay alive until the end of the round (which lasts around two minutes). The other side, however, will need to find one of the flags and return to their home base (while also ensuring at least one team member survives).
Once a flag is captured, the round is over. Once all members of one team are killed, the round is over. If the defending team successfully protects their flags all the way to the end, the round is over. Teams play multiple rounds before swapping sides (from Defender to Attacker, and vice versa) to test their own skills, while ten rounds comprise a single match. After all ten rounds are over, the team with the most wins in the match are declared the overall victors.
While the time limit for one round of Home Run is set at around two minutes, the rounds I played hardly ever reached the allotted time as teams quickly whittled away the other’s soldiers – flag capture and defence were always the guiding goals funnelling players through the map, but death came quickly. There’s a reason Danger Close calls Home Run “the fastest of their online modes” in Warfighter.
The vision for Home Run, says Danger Close, was to create “an intense, violent and addictive game mode that will break into the E-Sports scene,” as well as a mode that suits clan-based structures, and I can certainly see this happening based on the frenetic action I experienced. What makes this mode all the more intense is that there is no respawning during a round – once you’re dead, you’re dead – so you’ll need to be extra careful with your life while running around the tiny enclosed spaces.
We could choose to play with either an Xbox 360 controller or a keyboard/mouse setup (as the demos were on PCs), and it was interesting to see that out of the eight available stations, six of the players (including myself) chose an Xbox 360 control as our weapon of choice. Playing four-a-side, we jumped into Home Run and were quickly met with incredibly speedy rounds of multiplayer action.
Home Run seems to continue Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s focus on ‘Fire Team’ play, pairing you up with a fellow team-mate who will give you advantages during the match. First of all, your Fire Team buddy is visible on the mini-map as a small star, and you’re also able to see his or her outline through walls. It also seemed as though you can see enemies that have been spotted by your buddy, or foes who have killed your friend, in a similar way (a red outline appears around them, also visible through walls).
In this way, you’re encouraged to stick close to your Fire Team buddy and work together as a small(er) team as you watch one another’s back, check corners and co-ordinate your attacks against enemy soldiers. A Fire Team that works well together will always have the upper-hand against a single target. Taking corners slowly, listening out for enemy movement and making good use of explosive and flashbang grenades are also good ways to lengthen your life in Home Run.
Luckily in Home Run, the positions of the map’s flags are always shown on the mini-map (most useful to Attackers) while friends and spotted enemies, too, can be seen moving around. The Attackers’ flag return point is also shown, which can help Defenders set up an ambush… more on that later.
During my rounds of Home Run, the players were very evenly matched with a number of developers included in the match on either side. During the pre-round session, you’re able to choose your class and get ready for the upcoming round. I played with a few of the different classes, swapping between using a sniper rifle, shotgun and regular rifle, but in the end I settled on a rifle with medium range abilities. Players who prefer sniping will need to be extremely skilled and quick with their shots, especially in the level we were playing in as the distances are so short, while skilled shotgun players will have a field day getting up close and personal with a few well-placed rounds.
When a round is completed (which, again, is very quick), a short cinematic plays out showing the victors planting their flag, or sauntering about, or it will show the losers looking rather dejected. At half-time, a scoreboard is put up with the current tallies and the teams switch sides – after a bit of back-and-forth during a Defender, it was my turn to take on the role of an Attacker.
As we found out the last time we played Medal of Honor: Warfighter multiplayer, the visuals of the game are very detailed and the particular map I found myself in this time took on the form of what looked to be a block of torn down buildings, now overgrown with spots of greenery creeping over cracked slabs of concrete and rubble. Graffiti and burning barrels were also present and there was a distinct feeling that someone, even very recently, lived in this space.
These little details really helped impose a sense of place in the world – a sense of realism. While there won’t be much time to admire these touches during a hectic match of Home Run, they’re definitely appreciated and greatly add to the atmosphere.
When I wasn’t absorbing the level’s visuals, however, I was making a desperate attempt to capture the other team’s flag and go for an overall match victory. The scores were quite even throughout the match, but in the last round my Fire Team buddy fell early and a skirmish erupted on one side of the map. Shouts and calls burst out around the small demo room and the other players were heavily invested in their firefight
Seeing my chance, I darted around the other side of the level going straight for a flag, before spinning around and darting back to return it. A sense of disbelief and confusion rang out across the Defenders as they scurried about looking for me, knowing that if I was successful in my attempt, I would secure the round victory and ensure they lost the match.
With flag in hand, I met one opposing player and quickly took him down before rushing through rubble and jumping over collapsed walls, inching ever closer to the return point. I could hear screams of “No! No! No!” as the Defenders scuttled after me trying to put me down. As I ran, I could see the return point just metres away, but with my focus on my destination I didn’t see an enemy perched ahead of me, waiting for me to return. All it took was a few shots and I fell excruciatingly close to the finish line.
Whoops of excitement filled the room and even though my team had barely lost the match, I had still enjoyed every moment of it.
The refrain used to describe Medal of Honor: Warfighter goes along the lines of “the most authentic and only true modern military shooter available this holiday.” After playing Home Run I can’t really vouch for that sentiment, but I can say Warfighter is going to be one of the most exciting, diverse and enjoyable videogames available this holiday, full stop.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter is out on October 23rd in the US and October 26th in Europe and the UK – look over El33tonline’s extensive previous coverage of the game, including our previous hands-on preview, to see more screenshots, videos and much more information.
Here are a few quick notes on each of the classes available in Medal of Honor: Warfighter:
- “Packs a punch in every category”
- Helps players get acquainted with multiplayer
- Uses HK416 with M320 grenade launcher
- High powered Support Actions, topping off with cluster bomb strafe run
- “Surprise and speed” are his hallmarks
- Places himself in first and most exposed position
- Uses Steyr Aug or FN-AK assault rifle
- Uses magazine of heavy hitters for 20% more damage
- UAV is first support action (provides recon on enemy position)
- knows that “fire superiority is crucial”
- Suppression tactics, covering fire and ally support are his specialities
- German KSK use carry MG4
- British SAS use carry M2-40
- Support Action is prone stance to provide covering fire with increased accuracy
- Black Op Transport Support Action gives respawn ability in four strategic areas
- Can see development of enemy movements
- Can quickly strike before plan is formed
- Uses “versatile” HK-MP7 or MK-18
- Support Action is 120mm Dragonfire mortar strike or A10 Warthog strafing run
- Can “stalk, target and peel apart the enemy from extreme distances while in concealment”
- Uses McMillian Tac-300 or 7.62 optimised battle rifle (OBR)
- “Devastating affect on all who attempt to engage”
- First Support Action is Switchblade mini UAV precision strike
- Thrives in small tight spaces
- Uses short range weapons and remote detonated C4
- Support actions range from Milcore M32, sentry gun and deployment of extra armament of body protection