Medal of Honor: Warfighter is certainly entering a nearly saturated market, and it might even be said that it has been pipped at the post by two recent contenders in the genre. However, Warfighter might just bring enough innovation and authenticity to keep players interested.
At TGS we spoke to Luke Thai, a producer on the game, and he opened with the fact that Warfighter is using the Frostbite 2 engine, first brought to the world by DICE with Battlefield 3. This is instantly visible with weather effects, animations and explosions. It also uses the Battlelog system for a more sociable experience, and lessons learnt from previous games have been used to enhance Battlelog in order to “compete, share and communicate online with other players”.
Warfighter takes us further into the lives of Tier One operators globally, as they battle a mounting threat from the use of PETN, a particularly destructive explosive made famous by the 2001 “shoe bomber” attempt and subsequent terrorist activities. In multiplayer you can select from twelve operators across ten nations. In this way Warfighter bootstraps trends in global current affairs, which we also see with Black Ops II.
Luke was quick to emphasise the input of over two dozen members of the special operations community for the “sole purpose of building a more authentic experience” in terms of gameplay, narrative and visual levels. For instance, the key mechanic of the fire-team seeks to recreate an “elite, cohesive, tight two-man fighting unit”, which is apparently based on actual operational organisation among Tier One operatives. This “promotes teamwork and cooperative play, with actual tactical benefits” on the field such as situational awareness (being able to see an outline of your teammate as well as whoever he is engaged with) and ammo sharing. These fire-teams operate in teams of five pairs, to effectively build another layer on the typical squad-based mechanics.
This is one of the more interesting and innovative aspects of Warfighter and is heavily based on reports from consultants. Expect to see many different types of units and classes, as well as 35 map options, including Somalia and the Philippines, covering both desert and tropical environments. These options allow for “literally thousands” of variations to cater for different play styles and cooperative relationships.
At E3 the hands-on demo allowed us to experience the multiplayer gameplay in the Somalia map: this gave a taste of the fire-team mechanics, although with limited opportunities for team-building and communication, it was hard to get a feel of how it might work in the longer term. TGS gave us a taste of the single-player campaign, set in a typhoon-ridden Filipino village. Here we were teamed with Filipino special forces and had to clean up after an ill-advised sniper strike. This singleplayer gameplay felt, quite frankly, a bit like Battlefield 3. Let’s be honest, the emphasis in this genre is rarely on the single player campaign (Spec Ops: The Line might be one exception) and from what we’ve seen and played this year, the multiplayer looks like it might hold enough interest. It will be particularly appealing to those who previously enjoyed playing as an authentic Tier One operator but were disappointed by a lack of long-term uptake in online multiplayer.