Recently, the folks over at EA and Digital Illusions CE allowed PC gamers to participate in open beta testing for the multiplayer component of EA's upcoming first-person shooter Medal of Honor (MoH). One of LanOC's editors was among these participants. His identity has been concealed for security purposes... Okay, it was Tim.
The multiplayer sampling that I was privy to during the beta was limited, but enough to get me salivating for more. Two maps: Shahikot Mountains and Kunar Base (each offering different game modes) were available. Additionally, there were seven levels of progression for each of either team’s three classes. Characters progress much like they do in other online shooters like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 or Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Getting kills and completing objectives will award you “skill points” which unlock new weapons and their various attachments. Nothing new to see here, but why change the familiar elements that people have come to expect from their shooters? It all seems familiar yet still slightly different. Confusing, I know, but with so many shooters in the “Modern Pool” I would expect that MoH would want to stand apart a bit more.
Map #1: Shahkikot Mountains - Combat Mission gametype
I started with the “Combat Mission” gametype on the Shahikot Mountains map, first as a member of the advancing “Coalition Forces” and then as a member of the recently renamed “Opposing Force”. If you’re a member of the Coalition forces, your task is to capture various objectives along the course of the map. Each time the Coalition forces capture a point another section of the map will open up allowing your team to move further into enemy territory. On the flip side, if you're playing as the Taliban “Opposing Force”, your objective will be to defend each point along the map from the advancing “Coalition Forces”. If an objective is taken and you're killed, you will then re-spawn at the next base further back from the battle's front lines. The Shahikot Mountains are covered in snow, and I experienced some interesting weather effects. I can't tell you how many times my shot was ruined by sudden whiteouts, which can be used to cover your advance in a pinch, but their unpredictability can result in dangerous exposure to enemy fire. I do recommended using smoke grenades, especially when trying to provide cover for both yourself and your fellow operators. I hope to see more of these weather effects in the finished game. Watching as the battlefield is altered by the weather right before your eyes would add an awesome level of realism to the finished product. Overall, with lots of snowy peaks and rundown mountain village set pieces, the Shahikot Mountains will most definitely provide a variety of different experiences, all on the same map.
Map #2: Kunar Base - Sector Control gametype
Next up is the “Sector Control” gametype which was played on the Kunar Base map. This map and gametype was very different from the Shahikot Mountains. Set in a one of the arid valleys of Afghanistan, Kunar Base had a much more desert-inspired color pallet. In Sector Control each of the two teams (Coalition or Opposing Force) must maintain control of one, two, or all three of the sectors spread across the map. Doing so will cause your counter to increase, and the more points your team controls the faster the counter ticks away. In the version I played the first team's counter to reach 1800 won the match. One of the interesting things about the Kunar Base map is that there are quite a few levels within it. There are underground bunkers which make for excellent ambushes, lookout posts which can be a Sniper's best friend, and finally the insane fray of ground level combat which will make for some fierce firefights among those who play the Rifleman or Spec Ops classes. Sure the gametype isn’t all that original, but I did dig the close quarters combat which results from this much smaller map. And I definitely learned that on Kunar base a shotgun is you best friend.
While MoH's single player campaign was developed by EA Los Angeles' (EALA) internal studio, Danger Close, the multiplayer component was developed by Digital Illusions CE (DICE), the makers of the Battlefield series, and most recently Battlefield Bad Company 2. These guys know their multiplayer, so when I heard that they would be working on the multiplayer for MoH, my hopes were automatically set to “extremely high”. From my experience in the beta, I can't say that I was disappointed. I had absolutely no trouble finding a match, although I did get a sense that the matchmaking could use some fine tuning. While I was still at level one, I was constantly being sent into matches with players who had attained max level (set at seven for the beta). Any experienced online shooter player will tell you that this can be a total bummer. Fortunately, once I leveled up things appeared to balance out for the most part.
Additionally, the connections seemed stable. Not once did I experience any significant lag or dropped connections. In fact, the only time I was issued a connection failure warning was when my broadband went down temporarily, an issue related to my ISP and not the game.
I have been excited for Medal of Honor since this modern reboot was announced. During the beta I was blown away by the detailed maps, immersive audio, and general craziness of the battlefield that I was presented with. That said, I’m still concerned with some of the graphic and hit detection issues that I did notice. Both are issues that (hopefully) will be polished up come release day. Otherwise, what would be the point of releasing an open beta this close to launch? I’m really hoping that these issues are ironed out prior to October 12 and EA doesn’t stick us with the dreaded “launch day patch” that seems all to common these days.
It may be time to lift your heads up from Modern Warfare 2 or Bad Company 2 and check out the old kid with a new look. Medal of Honor is back and ready to compete with what I expect will be
one of the hottest multiplayer titles of the year.
Medal of Honor will be released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows PCs on October 12th 2010.
*This article is based on information and experiences taken from the Medal of Honor Open Beta which was available for the PC and ran from October 4th through 7th.*
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