Extraction preview. Balancing the Free to Play FPS.

September 11, 2013
in Category: Events, Gaming, The Blog
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Extraction preview. Balancing the Free to Play FPS.

Extraction preview. Balancing the Free to Play FPS.

Extraction Preview

Extraction is the newest FPS multiplayer coming at you from Splash Damage. Now you may remember them from the greatly under appreciated Brink, but you may not be familiar with their work on the underrated multiplayer of Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory either, the same multiplayer Nic loved so much and wants to see in Bethesda’s newest Wolfenstein: The New Order. So what you get is a developer with grand ideas, decent interpretation, followed by underwhelming ratings and sales, but a gain in cult following. Now they’ve worked most of those kinks out and hope they’ve got the right recipe for their upcoming Free to Play FPS. Ed Stern, the lead writer for Extraction met with me at PAX to tell me a little bit about it for our Extraction preview.

Splash Damage is hoping to learn and grow from its previous mistakes, working on humbling themselves from forcing an idea or mechanic that doesn’t quite work down the gamers throat, something that unfortunately riddled Brink. To complete certain objectives, you had to be the right class, and if you didn’t have a person willing to play that class, you were shit outa luck.

Which brings you to how Extraction will work with their characters. Splash Damage doesn’t want to get locked into “classes” but more of “characters who fill roles.” Every character can accomplish each objective, just some are better than others. Example given in the map were closing gates and then hacking the board that locks it, only the Engineer can hack the gate faster than others. But all characters have special abilities with visible cooldowns. Fire support, med packs, ammo, everything is a tactical move when knowing when to use it.

extraction,characters,splash damage,nerd farm blog,extraction previewAs for character customization, something that’s near and dear to my heart is limited right now, but they’re looking forward to the future since Extraction is in late alpha. For being a Free-to-Play play game, they’re being very careful with customizations that aid in battle, or giving you too much too early. This is something taken very seriously by Splash Damage, once again balancing paying customers with the free players, seeing the importance of the “free” players giving the paying players a competitive community. This is where their relationship with Valve is so important.

extraction,splash damage,maps,nerd farm blog,extraction previewCharacter design and development is obviously important, but something that can often make or break a game is level design. Luckily for Splash Damage they have Dave Johnson, the creator of Counter Strike‘s masterpiece De_Dust, at their disposal. Their working on 15 maps, but also understand the importance of quality over quantity. That’s where Johnson’s gameplay data collection program ECHO comes into play. A program capable of reading weapon damage, frames per second, areas of increased death, and much more, hoping to not only build incredible maps, but also help with weapon balance. The map we played at PAX was fairly small, then I learned it was only 1/3 of the complete map where we were able to accomplish two complete objectives. That means there’s going to be some pretty hefty maps.

extraction,splash damage,nerd farm blog,extraction previewSo how does it play, Ed knows it’s one thing to tell me how it works in theory, but how does it work in practice, and during my short¬†Extraction preview, it plays incredibly well for being in alpha. I played as the Medic since it was the last character available, like the last person not chosen for kickball. Honestly a position I’m familiar with and don’t mind playing, as the Medic that is, not the last person chosen for kickball. Their characters that fill rolls is accurate, like Support and Tanks, putting team play to accomplish objectives far above your K/D, and creating a stylized, slightly futuristic, quick ground based first person shooters.

Talking with Ed Stern and other Splash Damage devs was really enjoyable, everyone filled with an enthusiasm and passion you like to see for a project. When playing Extraction you can see that passion put to work, giving you a great looking game with strong gameplay mechanics. The Extraction preview wasn’t without it flaws though, one glaringly OP air strike is just one example, but everything else seemed so polished it was hard to believe this game is only in its alpha stages. Extraction should be pinging hard on your radar now, sign up for the beta here and help the team build on its already strong foundation.

Farm On.

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Burke

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