Insurgency preview: building on a foundation

Insurgency: Modern Infantry Combat was among the first user-created mods to be officially listed on Steam. Since then, indie game studio New World Interactive has risen with the purpose of continuing the legacy of the popular Half-Life 2 mod. The fruits of their labor, Insurgency, is poised to release later this month and Shacknews was invited to check out the near-final product.

Insurgency puts two teams, Security and Insurgents, on the Middle East battlefield. Class-based squads will wield over 20 weapons in game modes of up to 32 players, along with 6-player co-op. Squad-based gameplay has been designed to build upon the foundation set by games like the original Insurgency mod and Red Orchestra.

focalbox

Upon first glance, Insurgency could easily be mistaken for a Counter-Strike game. That's mainly because the game is built on Valve's Source engine, which provides similar lighting and cascading shadow effects. But NWI's game stands out for its homegrown assets and grasp of realism. Weapons feel appropriately realistic, in the vein of studio founder Jeremy Blum's previous game, Red Orchestra, complete with realistic recoil and damage output. There's also a focus mode that allows players to concentrate fire on a target, allowing them to aim closer at the expense of sound volume. Players are also left to their wits more, as several modern FPS tropes (like kill cams) have been tossed out the window.

Insurgency will feature two main sets of game modes, all supported across the game's eight maps. Those that fall in the Sustained Combat playlists will play more like traditional FPS modes, like Team Deathmatch and similar modes. Most of what Blum showed me fell into the Tactical Operations playlists, such as Push, VIP Escort, and Search & Destroy. These latter modes demonstrates the level of teamwork that the game shoots for.

"This a very teamwork-oriented game," said Blum. "It doesn't require communication, you can totally run-and-gun and lone wolf it if you want and maybe even do well in that way, but really, if you're on a team that communicates, you're gonna win."

Many Tactical Operations games grant players a single life. However, fallen soldiers won't be on the sidelines for long, since achieving objectives will reward teams by respawning their dead players. For example, Blum ran through Search and Destroy, communicating with beta players based in Europe, and destroyed an enemy weapon cache. Completing this objective respawned his teammates, in time to make the push to the next objective. There was no running and gunning to be found here, as Blum and his teammates moved at a methodical pace towards their targets, making for a slower, more patient style of game.

Blum demonstrated more of Insurgency's teamwork in Push. The object of Push is to capture three control points in a limited amount of waves. The defending team would only get 15 waves of reinforcements, which would be triggered after enough of one team has been killed. The offensive team would get only five reinforcement waves, but would receive five more (and five more minutes added to the game clock) for each point captured. The game looked to a balanced firefight and appeared to be a nice twist to a tried-and-true FPS mode.

BOOM video 16659

Those looking to test their mettle against AI can do so in the game's co-op modes. However, NWI has had some trouble in adjusting the bot difficulty. Blum noted that the bots had previously been too easy, but in attempting to balance it, the bots became nearly unbeatable. It's a delicate balance that NWI hopes to have ready before launch.

Insurgency has had several months to build an audience with its Steam Early Access release, but now it's getting ready for a full-blown release. There's some concern as to whether NWI will be able to work out AI and technical kinks, as I saw a lot of visual flickering still in place. But the co-op modes, realistic physics, and unique twists on classic FPS ideas make Insurgency a game to potentially keep an eye on.

Insurgency will release on PC and Mac on January 22.