Dirty Bomb – Early Access Review


I’m mostly a console player when it comes to FPS games. But I bought myself a pretty beefy PC at the beginning of the year so naturally I started to play more games on it. The problem was, was that I started with Counter Strike: Global Offensive and I suck at it, like really badly.

CS:GO produces a stupid amount of rage in me at times. So much so that I have to turn it off and just sit on my sofa for a little bit to calm down. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but it still makes me angry.

When the Free to Play, Dirty Bomb from Splash Damage came along I was sceptical that it might be the same story, however I was willing to give it a go.


As it stands Dirty Bomb is in Open Beta, so it’s changing, evolving and getting new content pretty regularly. On offer at the moment you have two game modes ‘Objective’ and ‘Stopwatch’. They’re basically the same except Stopwatch tasks you with completing your objective as quickly as possible in hopes that it will be quicker than your enemy’s time.

You can play these game modes across five maps currently, with more being worked on as we speak. Sure it’s not a lot of variation, but I feel like there is still enough to keep it interesting.

Splash Damage has also been testing another game mode ‘Execution’ a little sporadically over the last few months. Execution is simply attack and defend with no respawns until the next round. Attackers have to plant a bomb at one of two sites or eliminate the enemy team. The defenders have to stop them by elimination, running the clock down or defusing the bomb. The mode is best of 12 rounds – which honestly, I don’t get, who wants to end in a draw?

With the objective based maps, they kind of work in a similar way to Battlefield whereby if you complete one objective you move on to the next which takes you forward in the map and pushed your enemy back.


The Yellow markers are your objectives.

The reason I’ve brought up CS:GO earlier is because Dirty Bomb shares a lot of similarities – it’s billed as a competitive shooter – although I don’t feel it’s as difficult to ‘get good at’, it has more of a focus on hip fire (although you can ADS, but there isn’t a lot of benefit). Plus the game modes are kind of similar, especially ‘Execution’.

Where it differs though is, for me, where it shines and is why I get on with it.

Dirty Bomb features a class system where you have 14 (currently) different Mercs to choose from, each one offers unique abilities such as Med pack, Ammo packs, Airstrikes, Deployable Turrets – the list goes on. As default you have two Mercs unlocked, Skyhammer and Aura. To unlock others you can either buy them with credits earned through playing and completing challenges, or buy them with real money. There is also a rotation of playable characters every few weeks allowing you to try out other Mercs for free.

Within each class you have different load outs that are determined via cards that bare a ranking of sorts, from Iron and Lead cards, up to Gold and Cobalt. Each ‘level’ card will grant extra bonuses for your Merc up to Bronze level. Once you reach Bronze anything higher will be purely a cosmetic difference.

The gameplay itself is very fast paced and very fluid.  Some aspects are still being tweaked – I’m looking at you aim punch (I think this has just been addressed with the latest patch), but for the most part I think it feels pretty well rounded and relatively balanced. There are still some issues with the balancing of Mercs. Right now there is a lot of hate for Phantom being OP – again a new patch has recently dropped addressing this. I also think Nader is a little too generous with grenades and they probably need to make the cool down a little longer. But I’m sure these will all be tweaked I various ways over the next few months.


Movement and how you use the map actually plays a much larger role than you may initially think. Sure you can just run around as normal, but once you get to grips with the controls you can start to explore new routes to traverse by chaining together jumps. It can be really handy for getting the drop on players who aren’t expecting it.

Throughout your time playing you will also unlock cases (you can also buy them), these will grant you a new random Merc card, obviously the better the card the rarer they are. But they have implemented an upgrade system of sorts to help with this.

Say you have lots of Iron cards; you can trade in three along with a few credits to upgrade them to a bronze card. You can do this for any level of card, but the better they are the more they cost you in both cards and credits.

It’s a neat little system, but it can take a long time to get any meaningful upgrades in all honesty.

I’ve been having a blast playing Dirty Bomb. I find the balance between being easily accessible but taking time to master pretty good. I also like that there is an emphasis on working as a team with the Mercs having specific perks that can help in certain situations. Sure teamwork doesn’t always happen – you’re always going to get your Rambo’s or people who don’t want to drop ammo for you. But generally I think most players try to work as a team and when they do, that’s when it’s at its best.

Is the game perfect? No. But it’s fun, and that’s what I want from a game. I just hope that the developers put in the time to make sure this game can keep people interested for the long haul.

Seeing as the game is Free to Play, a lot of people sometimes think that means pay to win. Personally I don’t think it is. You can spend money on cases which will give you Merc load outs but I don’t think they give you much of an edge in combat. I’ve not spent any money on the game and I’m still able to win my fair share of games.

With it being a free game I think it’s definitely worth checking it out. The game is currently on Steam to download for free!

– Will

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