Warfighter Preview PC Gamer

Don’t ask how many people they’ve killed. They hate that,” EA’s representative tells me. “And please stay away from politics.” That’s right, readers. It’s time to find out just how authentic and respectful this year’s other military shooter is. So sit back and get ready to discover just what accoutrements are ‘in’ this season.

My cynicism doesn’t last. Once ‘Nate’ and ‘Kevin’ stroll into the room (no surnames given, no interviews allowed) and I hear the tale of how Medal of Honor: Warfighter came into being, it’s hard to keep joking. Likewise I can cock my head to the left so far that it’s practically horizontal, yet I still feel a quiet awe for any one who can look me in the eye and say, “My mind is my weapon. My guns are an extension of my will.”

Warfighter started out separately from Medal of Honor, as a franchise all its own, its origins a ‘vent book’ that Nate and Kevin wrote over a bottle of vodka during a spell in an undisclosed volatile region, frustrated by the dithering politicians back home. In time this became ‘Faceless’ – a document with the juiciest parts removed and a narrative locked in place, which in turn found its way to the desk of executive producer Greg Goodrich.

MOHW basilan 005 1024x628 Warfighter Preview PC Gamer “It was very different in the beginning, that manuscript,” explains Goodrich, now at EA Danger Close. “That story; it had a lot of teeth, it was very aggressive. Very dark in places.” It was pitched to EA, and had been in production for six months before board-level machinations saw the team merged with that of the upcoming Medal of Honor reboot. As such the Warfighter project was hustled beneath Medal of Honor’s camo-coloured umbrella late in the last game’s development, and slated as material for a sequel. “We lifted Mother and Preacher out of their story and dropped them into the last game,” says Goodrich, a man with a rich PC past in both Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Kingpin. “We intentionally kept Preacher quiet, as we knew his story was something special.”

For the Tier 1 operators providing the authenticity (and by extension, the marketing) this was anything but a smooth transition – to the extent that during the development of Medal of Honor, Goodrich penned two resignation letters to help get their views across to the EA brass. Now though, with the warriors themselves penning the Warfighter storyline and a legion of their ‘brother’ consultants given final edit, Warfighter is finally going to get its time in the sun. Quite the process for a game about crouching behind stuff, in order to shoot the heads of terrorists who are also hiding behind stuff.

MOHW basilan 002 1024x628 Warfighter Preview PC Gamer In terms of Medal of Honor itself, Warfighter’s biggest departures are that of geography and history. Like Call of Duty, the game is now dispensing with real world battles and frolicking in fiction – chasing the manufacture and distribution of PETN explosives through a global network of locations such as Somalia and the Philippines.

“We’re not jumping around the world just for the sake of jumping around the world,” says Goodrich, a man whose every other sentence is liberally doused in words like ‘honour’ and ‘respect’. “Everything in this game – every mission, every event, every location that we go to – has a dotted line to something that has happened. When gamers Google these locations, they’re going to find a host of bad things that happened to good people.”

To illustrate his point, Goodrich turns to the screen behind him and conjures an example. The mission is a raid on the flooded Capital Building of a typhoon-struck Isabela City, in the Philippines. Now powered by the same engine as Battlefield 3, this is a game destined to make your graphics card sing. Murky water sloshes around your feet beautifully, grenades leave a pleasant fizz in the air and chandeliers swing violently as they catch the blast. It’s a slice of game that screams shooter, although I’m promised the long-range head pops and stealth of the previous game are still a priority.

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“If there’s a gunfight in a confined space with wood panelling and lattice, and it’s half-flooded, what’s that going to look like?” asks Goodrich, as we watch a gunfight set in a half-flooded, confined space with wood panelling being splintered. “It’s going to be messy, it’s going to be dirty, it’s going to be gritty. We tried to get this wonderful ballet between water shooting up, wood coming down and stuff just coming at you at all times.” As the player character Preacher climbs the stairs towards the room where the hostages are, a gentle haze of spent cordite hangs in the air – although you’ll barely have a second to notice it before a PETN charge hurls him backwards, his arms and legs flailing in front of the screen.

For developer Danger Close it’s all about nailing the feeling of personal, situational combat, which engenders their concentration on the microdestruction around you: the splintered banisters and the sheaves of paper hurled upwards and outwards to flutter back down to the water. “You look at the competition and you say, ‘I’m not going too stylised or too Hollywood’. The groove makes itself,” says Chris Salazar, an art director recently purloined from Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops team. “We’re not making it feel like you’re a camera with a lens in front of you, where we throw grape jelly at you when you’ve been shot.”

In reality, the game’s burly Tier 1 writers patiently explain, they probably wouldn’t go through a door if they suspected there were five Abu Sayyaf militants aiming AK47s at it at head height. This being a game, however, you get a SWAT 4/Ghost Recon-esque choice of breaching manoeuvres (frag grenade, flashbang, or old-fashioned kick) and a splendid slow-motion sequence of bodies being perforated. Note that the buzzword here is ‘authenticity’ rather than ‘realism’, providing a comfortable safehouse for these small moments of magic.

medal of honor warfighter screen 7 1024x576 Warfighter Preview PC Gamer As the rescue mission proceeds, Preacher is presented with a linear ‘big gun on a vehicle’ session, as the player grabs the minigun on the bow of an escape boat. But wait, take back at least half of that sigh – because this is genuinely a high watermark of the ‘big gun on a vehicle’ form. The storm continues to batter Isabela City and the dinghy is caught in unpredictable currents and eddies as water surges through the streets. At one point, two rows of floating houses close in on it, the sides of the boat scratching porches, and I find myself mentally urging it forwards to freedom.

It’s a type of destruction previously unseen in videogames, with power lines collapsing and petrol stations exploding into the murk, and there’s an odd beauty in its chaos. It has to be noted that the foolhardy terrorists aiming rocket launchers at you also look great when they’re bent double in mid-air after your shots connect.

The best thing in the Medal of Honor reboot wasn’t any of its tough guys, but Afghanistan itself: its strange, beautiful landscapes made it a fascinating place to fight. There’s a chance that Warfighter will lose that vital sense of location, but otherwise all signs point towards it being a superior game. There are the technological advances, of course, but there’s also more cohesion in its development – both between the staff and its consultants, and between the teams working on its various constituent parts.

Last time around, DICE built Medal of Honor’s multiplayer – a different team on a different continent building an online rendition in a different engine. This time, enough map designers and network coders have been shepherded into the Danger Close pen to create their own online wares, with the same engine and mission statement as the rest of the game. Details are light, but the focus will be on letting gamers fight under their country’s flag.

That, then, is one dance partner in 2012’s military shooter tango. Medal of Honor is ready to plant a rose stem between Call of Duty’s teeth and do some aggressive twirling. We’ve all seen its moves before – we go through these motions every year – but for many the appeal will never die. And it’s strong praise indeed to underline that Warfighter is as confident, engaging and authentic as it is entirely familiar.

Thanks for reading our Warfighter Preview.

Medal of Honor Warfighter preview

Medal of Honor Warfighter preview

The sandwiches are finished, to be honest I wasn’t too sure what was in them, it could have been cheese but I’m not certain, however there was more pressing business. Medal of Honor Warfighter was waiting for me, so off I trotted over to the booth where me and my fellow journalists waited to see what all the fuss was about. This is the next big game in the Medal of Honor Franchise.

medal of honor warfighter concept art 3 1024x628 Medal of Honor Warfighter previewSitting down to watch the latest challenger to this year’s battle of the shooters I wasn’t too sure what to expect. The previous game in the series was a big draw for me when I first saw it, but to be honest, a few broken promises later and I was left disheartened. It’s not that Medal of Honor wasn’t a good game – it was. What was wrong was that it just lacked that certain something; judging by the bugs I found, one such thing was a proper Quality Assurance test.

Anyway, things in gaming move on and here I am sitting contemplating what’s to come from the next game in the series, it all sounds promising, as we’ll discuss in this article, but whether this vision turns out to become a reality is for another day.

Authenticity; it may be a buzz word but it’s all the rage a Danger Close, the studio who even has a new employee to make this dream come true; his name is Tyler Grey, a ten year veteran and a real life solider, he’s also an avid gamer. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to speak to him, but even from his brief talks during the game, it was obvious that this guy knew what he was talking about. To have such experience on your team is without a doubt a big bonus, in fact I’m told he is the busiest person in the building as he’s constantly consulted as to what hat goes with what piece of uniform and what bullets fit where. But it’s not just this which makes Medal of Honor so special, because like Grey said himself, “you can’t let authenticity constrain the most important aspect of the game, FUN.”

Obviously it’s hard to tell from such an early build how this game will pan out, but from the gameplay on show things certainly look promising. During our demo we watched as a team of specialists infiltrated a building to rescue hostages who had been captured by Abu Sayyaf separatists , it’s part of a series of missions in the game which are all linked to real life events. Throughout the game you’ll find yourself in all manner of situations such as this and I’m told that “if it’s in the game, you’ve probably seen it on BBC News.”

bigimage 1024x576 Medal of Honor Warfighter preview This particular mission takes place in the Philippines, the opening scene is particularly striking as it features a conversation between a solider and his wife, helping bring how the cold realities of war and instantly giving a more human side to the game. Then the door opens.

On the other side we are greeted with a large gun battle, it’s all very familiar if you’ve played an FPS before, but striking all the same. This particular area has been devastated by a Typhoon, therefore the soldiers find themselves with the extra hazard of water to deal with. It doesn’t particularly make a big difference to the overall battle, however it at least adds an interesting dynamic into the mix as they slush their way towards the hostages building.

It’s hard to find enough words based on the small amount of footage seen. Sure the action looks great and easily rivals that of other shooters on first impressions. Looking for something which felt news was a challenge, although I was impressed with the new door breach mechanic which gave you a choice of how to enter a room full of enemies. Two of the options shown where to either boot the door down and go in all guns blazing or, alternatively, get a team mate to throw in a flashbang, enter the room and shoot everyone down in a slow-mo bulletfest.

The scene finished off the hostages being rescued and a quick boat ride through a narrow, water filled street. Here you took control of the gun and took down anything in your way. Bullet riddled scenery and destroyed environments was the main theme on show here and it worked well. Off flew the hostages into the distance thanks to the Allied helicopters and so ended the demo. But wait, there’s more.

Not content with showing us some gameplay, Multiplayer was now the main topic on everyone’s mind. So just what does make Medal of Honor: Warfighter different in this respect? Well, this is where it gets interesting.

As mentioned earlier, Danger Close is aiming for one thing, Authenticity. In this respect players will now be able to take control of specialist soldiers from their own country. What this means is that you’ll have the choice of playing as 12 different Tier 1 units from a variety of nations including the British SAS, Australian SASR, German KSK and Polish GROM. It’s Tier 1 Blue vs. Blue head to head combat, or at least that’s what the developer calls it.

With a story written by Operators from the community which have fought in wars, a multiplayer mode which lets you play as the soldiers from your own country and missions based on real life events, Medal of Honor: Warfighter seems like it could be a promising title. We will certainly be keeping a close eye on this one throughout the coming months, let’s just hope that Danger Close don’t let us down.

Thanks for reading our Medal of Honor Warfighter preview