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Tactical shooter Insurgency is getting an expansion, a port, a remake or some combination of those options. Insurgency: Sandstorm, coming 2017, is bringing the team play and territorial control of the crowd-funded, Source Engine FPS to Unreal Engine 4.
Developer New World Interactive has partnered up with publisher Focus Home Interactive to upgrade just about everything. The most obvious improvements will be graphical, given that you really have to try to make something not look pretty in Unreal Engine 4. New World has provided a couple of comparison shots for reference:
A story mode will come along for the ride, following a squad from the 2003 invasion of Iraq through to the present. However, those accustomed to Insurgency's multiplayer will likely be more excited by the introduction of competitive matchmaking and "a new esports framework". What form either of these things will take is unclear, but we're promised that a beta of both systems will come to the original Insurgency for all to test.
That beta is undated as-yet, but New World will be taking your questions over Twitch on Saturday, February 27, 3pm EST.
FPS fans have been clamouring to relive the horrors of World War 2 since about the second Modern Warfare, and that sentiment has been growing with each near-future shooter pumped out by EA and Activision. New World Interactive, developer of squad firefight sim Insurgency, has been paying attention: in collaboration with the modding community, it has officially released Day of Infamy, a WW2 total conversion.
I say 'officially' because it's been cooking for a while but can now be played without opting into the Insurgency beta build—the community isn't nearly done with it. Despite a five-star rating on the Steam Workshop, the Day of Infamy roadmap lists a raft of tweaks, retextures, vehicles and other assets to be added, all crowdsourced from Insurgency modders. Submissions remain open, too, so if you've got a bit of talent and a passion for the hardware and battlegrounds of the second world war, offer up your goods via GitHub.
This update implements the first community map, Landfall by Chief-C, in addition to prettifying a German grenade an no longer referring to combatants as 'Security' and 'Insurgents'.
It's a colossal project, mercifully available in one package on the Steam Workshop, and offers a huge amount of extra dev-approved value to Insurgency owners. Leif did our review—there aren't many games that reward teamwork better.
Alone on a dark desert hillside, a soldier lies prone in a patch of scrub brush. In the distance down the hill, a black shape moves forward. Spotting his chance, the soldier pops up and hurls a grenade. He s about to go for this, a commentator says, calling the play-by-play for online viewers. But he's revealed his position too soon, and midway through his grenade throw, the lone soldier is interrupted by a burst of machine gun fire. The audience watches him fall as the momentum of the battle shifts.
The world of esports is growing fast, and broadcast matches like this one happen every day. But what s special about this match is that it didn t take place in Counter-Strike: it was played in SOCOM: Source, a remastering of 2002 PlayStation 2 exclusive SOCOM. With Insurgency as the base for now, a small group of fans is modding in SOCOM s third-person perspective and crosshairs, rebuilding classic maps, modeling classic characters, and writing logic for their favorite game modes.
Ever since SOCOM 2, I ve always wanted to see a remastered SOCOM, the mod creator, Redline, told PC Gamer. The 26-year-old freelance programmer from Chicago has pursued it as a side project. I know a lot of people who always wanted that, too. A little over a year ago, I finally decided to do something about it. Anyone in this community, you could ask them: What would you do if you won the lottery? For a lot of us, it would be, first, I would fund a SOCOM game. These guys are very passionate.
How did a PlayStation 2 game come to be reborn as a mod for an indie shooter on Steam? The project began as a mod for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Redline had never modded games before, but he decided to learn and bring back his childhood favorite. When I was a kid, I got high speed internet, so I went out and bought a high-speed game: it was SOCOM. I played it nonstop. I skipped school to play it.
As one of the first games to demand modern internet speeds, SOCOM introduced a lot of staples of online gaming. Matchmaking and lobbies were new concepts at the time. In 2002, though, PlayStation 2 consoles didn t have a way to support online communities. Websites sprang up to organize tournaments and connect people, and a competitive scene grew around these third-person action games. These sites didn t have a way to talk directly to players consoles, so players had to sign on and report the results from any organized match manually.
New players send him messages that read like they ve found the promised land. A few claim to be moved to tears.
After SOCOM 2 in 2003, the series changed direction. The small squads and special forces missions were replaced in 2005 with vehicle combat and other changes that turned away the hardcore group as SOCOM sought the broader appeal enjoyed by games like Battlefield. The community that had formed around the games eventually evaporated. Millions of copies of the game were sold on PS2 and PS3, but servers running the online game modes were finally taken offline in 2012. No SOCOM game has been announced since 2011 s SOCOM 4, which lost its servers in January 2014. As far as anyone knows, the SOCOM series is dead.
After Redline began his project, word spread and the community started to come back. Within a week of launching, he had 1,500 subscriptions. As the mod grew, it switched from being a Counter-Strike mod to an Insurgency mod, a move that gave Redline a better base to work from. New players send him messages that read like they ve found the promised land. A few claim to be moved to tears. One player told PC Gamer that he s seen lifelong console gamers build or buy a PC just to play SOCOM online again.
Redline is doing all the programming himself, while a few community members volunteer their time to help with modeling and level design. This entire operation is fueled by a love for SOCOM. Everyone works on this and puts in more hours than most people actually think, and they do it just because they want this game back so badly, Redline says. We get absolutely nothing else in return. In fact, some of us put our own money up to keep it going when donations don't come in.
Tobias Str mb ck, a SOCOM player from Sweden, is a big fan of the mod and the community that has resurfaced around it. Our community and the developer all are very passionate about the mod, he said. We all want a great SOCOM game. It's an actual community. People know each other, for better or worse. But we all want the same thing... Joining a server sometimes gives me the feel of walking into the onto the schoolyard where my buddies are hanging out.
It s becoming a big schoolyard. 10,000 unique players have logged on since March. Online matches have tallied up 37,000 hours. Over 7.7 million shots have been fired. Another player, Josh, calls the game magical. I always tell friends about this mod, he said. I think the biggest issue is some hardcore fans died with the game when the servers were taken down on the PlayStation network.
Right now, the mod is moving through alpha and approaching a beta release early next year. The biggest change, the switch in perspective from first person to third person, is in place and stable. The coming weeks will see new competitive features and more maps added. At the mechanical level, though, the game already feels like SOCOM. It is the [mod] on the market that is the closest to the original SOCOM games, Mike, one of the active community members, told PC Gamer. A few more tweaks to the gameplay, mainly the animations, and this mod will be as true to original SOCOM gameplay.
Eventually, Redline hopes to port the entire project over to the Source 2 development kit and create a free, standalone game called SOCOM: Source. For now, he's continuing to build his new SOCOM community, adding clan support, tournament ladders, and all of the other tools that didn t exist when the PS2 had its day. This is the way to get the gameplay back, he says. There s determination in his voice. But [the community] is the bigger picture. We can t just keep playing the same maps for the rest of our lives.
Building the community, Redline thinks, will let them bring the same structure to other games as well. I never got into the competitive CS:GO experience because I know that I don t like it. I don t want that, I want to get the SOCOM feel back. I m a PC gamer, but I want to bring back the console multiplayer community experience.
We write about FPSes each week in Triggernometry, a mixture of tips, design criticism, and a celebration of virtual marksmanship.
There came a moment this week when I looked up from my PC after hours of in-the-zone shooter gaming. It was two in the morning, I was still playing Insurgency, and I realized that I hadn t taken a single screenshot in hours. The greatest compliment I can give Insurgency is that I was having so much fun shooting my way through wadis and Baghdad alleys that I kept forgetting to capture the screens I needed for this article.
Of all the multiplayer shooters available right now, I find Insurgency s style to be uniquely satisfying. Though it is billed as a tactical shooter, I think of it more as a slower, more deliberate version of Counter-Strike. It gets a reputation for tactics because every little bit of info that players come to rely on in shooters is purposely removed. Gone are the mini-maps, the damage indicators. If I want to know where my friends are, I keep them in sight. If I want to know how many bullets I have, I count my shots. If I want to know if I killed someone, I walk over and look for a body.
Insurgency, basically, isn t here to hold my hand.
The feeling of fragility defines Insurgency. In another FPS, I might be alerted to an enemy by on-screen indicators. In Insurgency, I spot enemies when my friends start spraying blood. Sticking with a team is critical because they are your extra health points, taking bullets for you. Together, each squad becomes a Halo Spartan or a Call of Duty protagonist clad head-to-toe in plot armor.
Your team members carry a variety of weapons, too. Each loadout in Insurgency can be customized according to supply points earned over the course of a match. This makes for a satisfying power curve as each team makes kills, earns supply points, and upgrades to better guns and shinier attachments. Supply points used to be awarded by kills alone, something that, as I pointed out when I previewed the game in Early Access, incentivized stupid run-and-gun tactics and failed to reward support roles. I was very pleased to see that developer New Worlds tinkered with the economy a bit since launch. Now, each team earns supply points as a group. If you help your team kick a lot of ass, you ll be able to upgrade your kit.
New Worlds has also spent a lot of the last year adding stuff to the game. Eight new maps, eight new weapons, and four new game modes have been introduced. They ve grown and changed the plan for the game in response to community feedback. When I contacted creative director Andrew Spearin to talk about Insurgency s first year, he gave me one example: respawns.
We didn't know whether our unique reinforcement system would be fun until we played it with our community, Spearin said. Typically, suggestions would be for one-life or unlimited respawn game modes, but we designed a mechanic to spawn your team when an objective is captured. That actually proved to be immensely fun and a unique component that defined the tactical essence of Insurgency.
Ignoring everything except your mission objective is something the military excels at, but that military-themed shooters mostly fail to simulate in the rules of the game.
All of that careful community building, not to mention some key sales with Humble Bundle and a free Steam weekend, has led to a pretty healthy online community. As of this writing, there are twice as many people playing Insurgency as there are playing Evolve—not bad for an indie FPS well into its second year of release. Though the game does have a basic single-player practice mode (and one of the most aggressively difficult tutorials I ve ever played), the bulk of Insurgency will always be online. It s good that there are plenty of players to support it.
Insurgency players are also some of the most helpful I ve encountered online. We noted in our review that the emphasis on teamwork makes incompetence a shared liability; as a result, experienced players are only too eager to bring rookies up to speed. In the 14 months since launch, that hasn t changed.
Spearin seems to know that their efforts have paid off. Not only are there a lot of people playing the game, but they all seem to love it. It's very positive and validating to know that we are introducing a unique experience to the shooter genre, Spearin said. Many fans have found a safe haven with Insurgency, [which] they feel is a better experience than the usual AAA franchises. Insurgency has over 25,000 Steam reviews with a 92% recommended rating. They aren't just lukewarm reviews, but often say it's the greatest or most intense FPS they have played.
Insurgency also has one of the most seamless Steam integrations I ve had the pleasure of playing. Finding a server is quick and easy, and bringing friends into a party and then finding a game as a group worked perfectly every time. Even the in-game voice chat automatically mutes other Steam voice calls, preventing your closest friends from getting an echo. In a genre where so many developers half-ass these basic necessities, let s take a moment to pin a medal to Insurgency for getting it right.
On the FPS spectrum that, I think, goes from Arma 3 on one side to Call of Duty on the other, a running dichotomy between open-world freedom and cinematic scripts, Insurgency captures the middle ground. It is slower than Counter-Strike but faster than Red Orchestra 2. It rejects the self-seriousness of America s Army 3 but doesn t stray near the slapstick of Team Fortress 2. When I revisited Insurgency, I went looking for a niche curiosity, but I found my new go-to FPS.