On grievances and expectations or why Medal of Honor: Warfighter is still worth buying, but left me disappointed.Posted by: Dragon in Editorial, Games
Despite a year of promotion for Medal of Honor: Warfighter during which several things were said about the game and its features, I feel gamers have been slightly misled about the game. Perhaps expectations were too high. I know mine were. But I believe there is an apt and necessary comparison to the feature title made with the Frostbite 2.0 engine. Battlefield 3 set a bar for all others to follow. Its engine certainly portrays a battlefield instead of a traditional multiplayer map. The maps in Battlefield 3 are immense. More on that later but the bar is there. And for the campaign portion of the game, I feel Danger Close delivered on promises they made. It’s a game which stands alone as an experience which gamers shouldn’t miss.
After a year of playing BF3 and MOHW being marketed specifically to BF3 players by way of ‘exclusive access to BF4 beta’ promotion, gamers are noticeably annoyed by MOHW. Of course you can’t get to know the intricacies of a game from a week of gameplay. The first few minutes of gameplay for MOHW multiplayer, and indeed I was there, were spent trying to get acclimated and learn the feel of the game. The next several hours were spent unavoidably listening to laughter and derision of the game as ‘just horrible’ and ‘so bad’. In those first moments I learned what not to do in terms of gameplay. I was playing BF3 hardcore mode for the better part of a year. That was my game. I expected a game using the same engine so similar in concept and nature to look similar and feel similar. It has been said that This is how Danger Close would do it and I can see they did. But we mustn’t forget there were two sets of expectations. The first being a very high bar set by DICE with BF3. The second set of expectations is from the 2010 series reboot simply titled “Medal of Honor”. The multiplayer in that game was fun and quite popular among fans of military shooters. So expectations existed. I expected a game which was more of a large open sandbox. I expected multiplayer maps to be larger. I expected the full utilization of the Frostbite 2.0 feature set. I have some speculations about what may have happened.
In an interview with Gamespot’s Tom McShea, Greg Goodrich, EP of MOHW stated that the game would include “hardcore mode”. While only addressing regenerative health, he used the same term as the BF3 gameplay mode. In that mode in BF3, the weapons are balanced to portray a more accurate damage model on the player. Only a few shots to kill or a single headshot. In using that term, expectations were raised as to a similar game mode for MOHW. Instead it takes more than three headshots to kill an opponent. Either that or the hit registration is wrong. In using Frostbite 2.0 there are lessons to be learned from DICE that also apply to MOHW which seem to have been overlooked. The level design for MOHW is a first in the modern theatre for developer Danger Close. The last multiplayer FPS they developed for windows was 2007’s Medal of Honor: Airborne. Yes, it’s true. The 2010 reboot had multiplayer developed by DICE. Perhaps that’s why they feel so different. The whole philosophy of level design on MOHW seems to have that 2007 feel. The maps are closed in and blocked off with rubble or crates. You can’t climb or jump on certain areas. Though one feature carried from BF3 is implemented poorly. Out of bounds or combat area will blur your screen and leave you with a count down to being slayed. In MOHW this happens if you stray into the opposing teams spawn area or back to a previously taken objective in combat ops. The problem here is that usually you’re given a waypoint to lead you back, but it doesn’t always pop up. And in most circumstances if you’re too forward in defending an objective, you’ll be stuck and slayed out of bounds when the objective changes. Yet the levels are all designed with tight corners and choke points with only very small killboxes in certain areas. It offers very little freedom to flank the enemy from an unused avenue. Their philosophy seems to be multiple indefensible paths. The actual execution of the map design is further hindered by numerous technical glitches and flaws such as invisible collision defects with certain covers and other objects. I have seen enemies fire through sand bags because their muzzles clipped past the collision boxes. I have seen weapon fire blocked by invisible collision boxes on covers that extend about a foot past the cover. For a model of a metal shelving unit, it shouldn’t have that lazy collision design. At launch there were several bugs with spawns and telefragging. Players were spawning behind accessible areas on maps and were stuck until dying or respawning. They were spawning below the map, falling endlessly through space. They were spawning on top of other player getting telefragged. They were spawning directly into oncoming fire or within feet of opponents. Some of these issues appear to be fixed with the Oct, 27th server patch.
Given the engine’s ability for wide open spaces, a better balance between the long game and CQB should have been presented. It’s noticeable in the games presentation of optics for each weapon. 90% of the optics offer too high of magnification to be used for CQB. I can’t help but speculate that the levels were somehow supposed to be larger given the optics choices. I must grieve about the customization options for weapons in the game though as it certainly didn’t meet my expectations. I know customization is all the rage now and no modern FPS would feel complete without it at this point but I feel it falls short of being customization. Every class and nation has it’s prepared weapon. As a matter of authenticity, I have to assume it’s what the operators use. It’s pretty cool that they’ve been assigned that way. What I just don’t like is how certain options have no functionality. There are flashlights, but I’ve never seen one used. There are laser pointers, but I’ve never seen one used. There are foregrips but none seem to have any effect on stabilization. And I really don’t like how you must unlock iron sights. I expected there to be a weapon on which you could attach accessories to mounts. This is not the case. You are given only superficial choices which seem to have little effect on the weapon handling. You can choose a larger magazine for certain weapons, but when using the pointman special ability, your mag size is set to standard. I would have appreciated it more if we were given the ability to build our own weapon systems despite the choices given. I also discovered that your choices reset for every new server you join. That is a hassle and takes away from game time. If we were given the ability to choose loadout in battlelog just like BF3, it would be a step in the right direction.
Another point which I feel leaves us all feeling sore is the level of destruction capable in the engine just isn’t present in this game. To be fair, the marketing language used was very exact and should have been examined closer before raising my expectations. Their claims that micro-destruction affects “every element of the environment” is not completely truthful in the finished product. It’s there but only visual. You cannot shoot through barriers of any kind. As well, their claim that they have created “a visual representation of human action in combat that takes authenticity to a new level” just falls short when you see your player flying through the air in spectacular fashion as a ragdoll reminiscent of earlier shooters when the physics capability was first possible. It makes the game feel silly and dated. In fact only their claims about audio in this game seem to ring true.
Now all of the grievances I have with this game are focused on multiplayer. I feel strongly that the single player campaign is excellent and fun and worth the cost of the game. There are elements in it which are unexpected and surprising and very fun. Since this is published by EA and developed by EA owned studios, the game benefits from certain code used in other EA games based on this engine. The first being BF3 obviously with battlelog integration. Unexpectedly EA’s Black Box studio created an amazing racing game called “Need for Speed: The Run” which uses the frostbite 2.0 engine. This game’s influences on the feel of the driving action in MOHW is evident and so very welcomed. The campaign just looks better and feels better than the multiplayer portion. They are, after all, separate games.
It is understandable why certain reviewers might feel this game deserves a lower score. Though scoring it objectively along side other modern shooters should reveal the bias reflected in many mainstream reviews. I don’t feel this game deserves a low score. While the multiplayer portion feels unpolished and unfinished and certainly lacking, it’s actually fun to play when you realize the style you need to adopt. I am currently level 50 as of this writing. The game needs a serious amount of polish and some minor feature updates to account for customer expectations. It is still worth the price of admission. Leave a comment below