HOMEFRONT - Multiplayer Preview Event|
Written by Charles Boucher
October 6, 2010
Arriving in San Francisco, it was abnormally hot, the air stifling and hard to breathe. Still, as far as local conditions go, it certainly beats the Korean occupation that Homefront developer Kaos Studios depicts in their upcoming game. The studio, along with publisher THQ, were there to show off the game's innovative multiplayer, and boy, did they ever.
Set in the year 2027, Homefront chronicles the American resistance against the invading Korean People's Army after the collapse of American power and the corresponding rise of a unified Korean peninsula to world superpower status. When a Korean EMP knocks out electronics across the country, the KPA invades America's west coast and seizes power, leaving the army in disarray and the citizens under Korean control.
While the single player experience puts the player in the shoes of an American guerrilla striking back against the occupying force, the multiplayer component is about the war on the ground and in the skies between the remains of the US Army and the Korean People's Army in a desperate battle to liberate or conquer the American west.
Kaos Studios presented their large-scale combat multiplayer mode, Ground Control. Hearkening back to Kaos's roots developing Battlefield 1942 mods, Ground Control pits two teams of up to 16 players per side against one another in a pitched battle to take control of strategic locations throughout a battlefield. While this might sound like familiar territory to seasoned gamers, Kaos has a few tricks up their sleeve when it comes to the way the battle plays out.
As you progress through a match and capture control points, kill opponents, destroy vehicles, and use your reconnaissance drone to tag enemies for allies, among other activities, you'll gain battle points, which you can trade in for upgrades specific to the class you're playing as. Classes in the demo included stealth, sniper, and assault, each with their own selection of rocket launchers, drones, and air strikes, as well as triggered C4 and EMP grenades, though in the final game, players will be able to make their own classes and equip them with an array of unlockable weapons. The ability to equip special weapons and launch drone mid-combat makes for an adaptive battlefield full of moment-to-moment tactical decisions that can turn the course of a fight.
The drones are one of Homefront's most impressive additions. Acting as an intermediary step between the infantryman and vehicles, drones allow players to control a more durable, if less versatile, small vehicle, which they can switch in and out of at any time. Ranging from flying reconnaissance to miniature tanks with mounted machine guns, the drones are specialized tools that, when properly used, can give your team an important edge while keeping you alive if something goes wrong. Look out, though, since while you're focused on piloting your drone, it's entirely possible for someone to sneak up and kill you, so it always pays to make sure you're in a safe place before switching to remote control.
Capturing points awards points over time for the team in control, and when you score enough points, you win. While that's not out of the ordinary, as a match progresses in Homefront and a team tries to win two out of three rounds, the fighting shifts to other parts of the map, depending on who won the first round. While the initial parts of the map are flat and designed for fighting on foot and drone use, later parts of the map support the escalation, focused on air to ground combat and heavy vehicles that will start to fill the field as players cash in their battle points. The arenas demoed were Cul-de-sac, which took place in a suburban neighborhood as player fought to control houses and defensible yards, and Church, which spread through a rural church and farmyard, with plenty of opportunities for bell tower sniping and daredevil antics piloting drones through the holes in the walls and roof of the damaged church.
Naturally, at this stage of development, the game is not without its flaws. Currently, players are thrown into the deep end without any awareness of the cool stunts they can pull off with drone control, and the limit on air vehicles is somewhat tight, leaving players unable to purchase that sweet helicopter they've had their eye on if they get their battle points too late. Nevertheless, it's still early for Homefront, and the game is still in very good shape. It'll be months yet until it comes out, but if you're a fan of Battlefield-style multiplayer, Homefront is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Stay tuned for single-player campaign game coverage coming soon…