Warface Preview: Claymore For Less
Warface was developed in Ukraine by Crytek Kiev, and the free-to-play shooter was initially intended for non-Western markets, where F2P is popular with both gamers and game creators. It makes the game affordable for cash-crunched customers, and it staves off piracy, a problem endemic in countries like Russia, where Warface is out and already very popular.
Can Warface succeed in the U.S.? Based on my hands-on experiences at at E3 2012 and GDC, I think it can. To begin with, the game looks great, thanks to a scaleable version of the Crytek engine that will accommodate older PC’s.
Co-op PVE is varied (some mission elements are randomized) and challenging, with a real emphasis on tactics and teamwork. The AI is “specifically designed for multiple enemies,” according to a Crytek representative demoing the game. Flanking is a must, and some powerful enemy types are only vulnerable from certain angles. Coordinated teams that take up the best firing positions will succeed more quickly.
PVP matches were fast-paced without being frantic, and the gameplay incorporated modern touches while preserving the feel of traditional PC FPS’ like Counter-Strike. I had particular fun playing as the Engineer, who is furnished with one claymore per spawn. Every time an enemy blundered into the trap I had laid at some particularly well-trafficked choke point, I couldn’t help but smile.
Players are not intended to specialize in just one class. Instead, they’ll spread their play-time between the game’s soldier, sniper, engineer, and medic archetypes. A wide variety of gametypes gives each class his own chance to shine; franchise producer Michael Krach loves playing the medic in games without respawns, when the ability to revive teammates becomes incredibly powerful.
Warface also has gear-based progression, which Crytek approaches in a unique way. Instead of a slow, linear grind towards over-powered, must-have items, Warface’s weapons are unlocked randomly, and there are no clear favorites. New players, of course, are statistically more likely to unlock less powerful weapons, but they also might get lucky.
This system prevents power players from being able to dominate through gear, and helps keeps mid-level players engaged: “Something loses its appeal if it hangs too high in the tech tree,” Krach explained.
To drive revenue, Warface offers a dizzying array of different micro-transactions, which are intended to provide “alternatives and convenience,” according to the Crytek rep on hand. Purchaseable XP boosts will allow players to catch up with friends who might have gotten a head start — the developers want the game to be as accessible as possible.
Players will also spend three different types of in-game currency — one bought with cash, another awarded for competing achievement-style PVE objectives, and another for simply competing in PVP and PVE matches.
One gets the sense that many gamers are ambivalent about the F2P model — witness Warface’s unappealing weapon “rental” system, through which players purchase temporary gear that “breaks” after a certain period of time — but the developers at Crytek are keen to sell it as a strength. F2P allows them to be “more cool, more daring, more real-time,” according to to Krach. The team has also committed to a constant stream of new content: “There should always be something new,” Krach enthused.
Warface might not end up being the greatest shooter ever, but it’s certainly trying something to new. Touting the awkward acronym/portmanteau “AAA4Free,” the game is currently offering open beta sign-ups on its official website. See for yourself if Crytek Kiev can compete in a crowded shooter market.