GDC 2012: Face-to-Face With Warface

 

Warface might be the best-looking free-to-play game ever. Powered by the Crytek 3 engine, the class-based shooter was playable on the GDC expo floor, offering both co-operative and competitive multiplayer gameplay. Developed by Crytek and published by Trion Worlds, the game is financed by microtransactions — players will “rent” guns and equipment (using them until durability runs out and they break), and buy tokens that allow them to resurrect when they bleed out of co-op matches.

The co-op gameplay on offer was exciting and varied — a group of players traveled by helicopter between a series of well-designed set-pieces that privileged teamwork and tactics. Individual enemies (highlighted in red, Left 4 Dead-style outlines) were easily dispatched using the game’s fluid, traditional shooter controls, but tough mini-bosses required more concentration. The story is risible: evil mercenaries (called “Blackwood”) have taken over the globe, and players will take control of other, nicer mercenaries in order to stop them. Class archetypes were familiar: soldier, engineer, medic, and sniper.

As far as unique features go, the game boasts on-the-fly weapon customization and special movement mechanics, including one based on Crysis’ run-and-slide maneuver. Pairs of players will be able to boost each other up to reach out-of-the-way sniping spots, or even circumvent portions of the map to flank. Mastering this movement system will be the key to success, according to the Crytek representative showing off the game.

The game supports 8 v 8 competitive matches on dedicated servers; private servers and mod support are still being discussed. The game is designed to scale well on older PC’s; despite Warface’s fancy graphical details, a dual-core machine with 1 gig of RAM and Windows XP should be able to achieve 30 FPS at Medium settings.

Though the micro-transaction model sounded iffy (who wants to rent in-game equipment?), Warface could be an amusing option for gamers balking at $60 boxed-game prices or $2000 gaming rig sticker shock. Look for it 2012, along with more coverage from Game Front as the release date nears.

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