I signed off 2018 by saying that Insurgency: Sandstorm was my favourite shooter of the year, the new team based, tactical FPS from New World Interactive has impressed me a lot . Since it’s launch I’ve been getting stuck in to the intense close quarters combat and loving it!
Release Date: 12/12/2018
Developer: New World Interacitve
What do you do?
Face off against other players in both casual and competitive playlists or buddy up with friends or randoms to take on AI in the co-operative game modes in some of the most visceral combat I’ve experienced in a video game in quite a while.
On the player vs player side you have a three game modes to choose from across six different maps, and they basically all revolve around some kind of attacking and defending of objectives, whether it’s one at a time or multiple.
Whilst there aren’t loads of map at the moment, the way in which they’re utilised across the different game modes and the size of them, keeps them feeling fresh enough for quite a while, although I would imagine once you’ve sunk tens upon tens of hours (I’m at around 20-25) you might want a little more. I think the addition of some varied terrain moving away from the standard urban areas and the inclusion of night time versions of each map would keep things feeling new. In fact night time would be incredible and terrifying.
Co-op in this game is actually a really fun mode to play too. It’s essentially a rush type of game mode where you have to attack a point, capture it and move on to the next one. At times, once you’ve captured a point you may need to defend it from a counter attack and in these moments the game mode shines. Your ammo starts to trickle down, and you have to be very selective with your shots, you may even need to switch to a secondary weapon. At times it can feel like a real fight for survival especially when your teammates start to drop and don’t respawn until the fight is over. It’s intense and satisfying and is probably my favourite mode at the moment. I’d love to see the addition of private game types for this where you can tweak the settings to your desire to really ramp up the intensity.
The gameplay itself is more on the more realistic side of things with very quick time to kill kind of like CS:GO. The weapons all feel good to use and more importantly have a different feel to them, getting used to them and finding what works best for you will take some time. Some weapons are better at different ranges meaning you may want to swap your class depending on the map. Some are better are penetrating walls – LMG’s in particular. It’s fun trying out new weapons and feels like it has an impact on the way that you play which I really like. Each gun feels satisfying to use, and getting kills feels good and rewarding.
One gripe I do have is that the boundaries for maps can be a little confusing, it’s not very clear where you can and can’t go at times, and sometimes it will still let you shoot even though you’re in an area you shouldn’t be, other times it will disable your weapon. It’s a little inconsistent and just confusing, but once you start to understand the layouts of the maps it doesn’t really become and issue, although learning the maps can still take some time.
There are a total of 8 different classes to choose from on both the Security and Insurgent side, The Commander, Observer, Rifleman, Breacher, Gunner, Demolitions, Advisor and Marksman, each class has access to specific weapons, attachments and equipment. For example, the marksman can use high powered sniper rifles and demolitions can use RPG’s for taking down vehicles.
Customisation with your primary and secondary weapons is also possible where you can change things like your optics, add flash hiders, extended magazines or foregrips to certain guns. The level of customisation in each class is deep and you’ll be able to spend a lot of time tweaking your setup to find something that suits you.
With each class you have a set number of points you can spend on equipment and weapons you’re free to spend those points how you see fit, so if you want to completely deck out your primary with a scope, extended mag, foregrip and more then you can, but it will leave you with less points to assign elsewhere on that class. None of the weapons are locked either, you’re free to use any and all items from a class right from the start, although weapons are ‘locked’ the each side i.e. the AK47 is only available to the insurgents.
I like this move because it actually allows for another level of depth for tactical play as you can start to recognise the sounds of guns which will give an indication of who might be hiding around a corner.
You can also customise the look of your player with cammo patterns , different clothing, hats etc… all these can be unlocked by earning points in game as you level up.
Look and Feel
I can’t make this video and not mention the sound design, because it is incredible. Gun fire rips through buildings in terrifying fashion, explosions sound devastating and the shrieks and cries of enemies and allies as they die is haunting. But what I like about the sound or the way in which battles play out is that it’s not constant, there are lulls where only the sound of people shuffling around buildings or streets can be heard. Only for the hail of bullets to come seconds later and pass just as quickly. It creates these crescendos of anarchy that are both devastating and satisfying to be part of.
Visually Insurgency probably won’t win any awards, but that’s not to say it looks bad, actually I think it looks pretty good overall, but the muddy browns and yellows aren’t exactly inspiring, plus it’s not had the best optimisation so far, so cranking everything up to high can give a pretty significant performance drop for me.
Pros & Cons
+ Intense skill based combat
+ Stunning sound design
+ Deep and impactful customisation
+ Challenging and fun co-op mode
– Poorly optimised
– Limited map variation
– Inconsistent map boundaries
Insurgency Sandstorm wasn’t really a game that was on my radar much before it’s release, but since playing it I’ve been blown away with the tight gameplay. Sure the game could do with some more optimisation as it can feel a little janky and stuttery at times. But I can overlook these shortcomings because the gameplay is so fun. The original Insurgency was supported for years after it’s release and I see no reason why this wouldn’t be the case in this instance.
If you like intense combat, and skill based shooters with a quick time to kill then you will love Insurgency: Sandstorm and for £25 you can’t go to far wrong!