The lights are on
One of the primary complaints many gamers have with online FPS titles is the self-serving mentality of teammates. Many titles reinforce this behavior by rewarding players for kills more than supporting your team, but some attempts have been made recently to push things in the other direction (such as Modern Warfare 3’s support package). With Far Cry 3, the team at Ubisoft Montreal is putting a major focus on team play, and my hands-on time at PAX East left me thinking their methods may work.
I had a chance to play a few rounds of Domination, and the similarities to Call of Duty’s multiplayer don’t end with the name of the mode. Three points (an ammo dump, fish market, and scrap yard in the Sub Pen area I played) are spread throughout the map, and teams are tasked with defending or capturing these locations. A bar at the top of the screen tracks the flow of battle, and the round ends if either color (blue or red, depending on whether you’re playing as pirates or rebels) reaches the end of the meter.
Where Far Cry 3 sets itself apart from the Call of Duty formula is its clear focus on being a team player. In addition to the standard XP rewards for kills and captures, you also receive TS (team support) points when you help your buddies out. These are gained any time you’re doing something that helps the team effort as a whole, including revives, command point captures, and the new Battle Cry ability. With a press of both thumbsticks, your character lets out a yell that gives a boost to any nearby teammates. A number in the corner lets you know how many allies will be affected, so you’ll want to be in a cluster for maximum effect. Depending on which Battle Cry you’ve selected, the bonus will be along the lines of speed boosts, increasing maximum health, and damage boosts. Done correctly, the Battle Cry can be a huge help for a cluster of allies that are gathered around a control point.
As you collect TS points, a meter fills up that rewards you with a variety of offensive and defensive bonuses. The PAX East demo was limited to three static rewards, but players will be able to customize them in a fashion similar to Call of Duty’s killstreak system. The first reward is a radar, and the meter depletes if you use it. If you’d rather save your TS points for a bigger bonus, you’ll be rewarded with the awesome psych gas item. This cloud of gas affects every enemy in its radius, and greatly impacts their experience. When affected, players will have to put up with cloudy vision and ominous whispers as they try their best to survive. Even worse, the gas makes every character (friend or foe) appear as a black demon-like figure with glowing eyes. Team killing is enabled when the gas is in effect, so you’re at great risk of committing friendly fire while under its spell. The final reward is a huge barrel bomb, which is dropped onto a designated target from a helicopter.
While much of Far Cry 3’s multiplayer is clearly inspired by a formula established by Call of Duty, the TS system could make a significant impact on the gameplay experience. Supporting your allies benefits everyone in a tangible way, and it may succeed in making teams work together as a cohesive unit. We’ll see its affect on player behavior when the game launches this September.
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