It’s been a while since we have had an entry in the “Progressing Through” series, and since we are coming full circle with the 2012 EA first-person shooter this could be considered the premiere article in volume two. While developer DICE handled the multiplayer of the previous entry in the Medal of Honor series, Danger Close has handled both the single and multiplayer components of Warfighter. They chose an unusual blend of mechanics from other games for their method of progression.
Warfighter uses the familiar class-based system, with unlocks coming at certain levels. The hook in Warfighter is that a heavy emphasis is put on picking a country to affiliate with, which means you’ll unlock certain nationalities for a class at a given level. So, for example, at level 24 you may unlock the US Navy Seals Demolition class, which would presumably unlock a variation of the AA12 automatic shotgun. At this point you don’t have to play as the Seals faction to use the AA12, as the weapon becomes available to the whole Demolition class. This means you can still pridefully represent the Russian Alpha Group and use the powerful AA12 if the other weapons don’t suit your fancy.
Country affiliation plays into the meta-game of medals, as well. Each country has a medal for killing x amount of enemies as said-country. There is no trophy tied to getting all of the medals, mind you, but I know some people who work towards medals in Battlefield 3. I was one of them. Aside from differences in appearance, country-specific medals, and the flag by your name, there isn’t a meaningful difference between in-game nationalities. The Russian Alpha Group Demolition class is mechanically the same as the US Navy Seals Demolition class; except the Russians have a cool looking helmet.
As you level up, you’ll unlock nationalities and guns, including various gun parts that you can swap out for whatever gun you happen to be using. There are a lot of similar guns, but each can have different parts associated with them. Each gun has a variety of parts to mix and match, but only once you unlock the part. The most important component from my experience is scopes, but barrels, stocks, magazine clips, paint, and more can be switched around to customize your gun. I have seen a similar system used before, and much more effectively, but it’s a fun mechanic to toy around with.
Objective A – Recon the Area
Keeping in style with the Progressing Through series, I picked the Assault class as my test bed. I feel more comfortable with an assault rifle in most situations, though I can rock a shotgun like nobody’s business in a lot of games. The first hour I picked a game mode called Hot Spot. There were not a lot of choices, and I had no idea what I was in for. Hot Spot resembles Headquarters from the Call of Duty series, only with one team always attacking and one team always on defence (instead of the first team to the point). It’s a best-of-five match and tends to run longer than the other modes I played.
Five matches were played during this 50-minute block, with 60 kills (averaging 12/per game) in total. I end up at Level 7 after the first hour was up. This ended up unlocking five new class nationalities to play as. Of course, since you aren’t just unlocking a nationality in the class you are playing, it may be a few levels before you get a new Assault nationality. I mentioned gun parts being unlockable, but the unlocks per gun came in small doses. During the entire three hours I played as my Russian Alpha Group Assault soldier, I only unlocked iron sights (my rifle had a red dot standard issue) and a magazine clip (solely for looks). Those two were unlocked in the first hour. Paint gets unlocked at every level or so, and I unlocked five paint skins in hour one (these are not gun-specific and can be used across all unlocked weapons).
Operation B – Controlling the Field
The second hour of my Progressing Through experiences are usually the most fun; the maps start to feel familiar, the gun physics start clicking a little more, and sometimes I just happen to hit my groove. With Warfighter, I didn’t actually hit a groove during my second hour of play time. If you count my kills per game, I actually performed worse than my first hour. I played Sector Control, which is akin to Battlefield’s Conquest game mode. Three designated capture points are on the map and the team holding the most of these will reach the required score total quicker. It’s pretty simple and you can get a significant quantity of experience points from it if you choose to play while focusing on the objective.
I played twice the amount of matches in hour two, to the tune of ten games. Sector Control games obviously go much faster than Hot Spot, so if you want to get more games in (an extra 500 xp for playing the match, and another 500 xp for winning the match) you’ll be happy that there is a quick, objective-based game mode. Though I played more matches per hour, my kills weren’t much higher, reaching 78 by the end of the second hour (5 kills per hour). I also gained an addition four levels (and classes), but nothing for the gun I was still using.
Operation C – Home Stretch
I mixed it up a little this hour, as I was not particularly fond of team deathmatch at this point in time. With other shooters, that mode takes a while to grow on me, and Warfighter is certainly one of those games. The bulk of this hour was spent playing standard team deathmatch and one match of Home Run (aka Capture the Flag) which has no respawns. I did surprisingly well during that one match, having no idea what the hell I was doing, and ended up with seven kills and three deaths when all was said and done.
By the end of the third hour, I’d played in eight games with 70 kills (8.75 kills/game) in total, which was in between the first hours high and the second hours low kills per game average. Level ups still came pretty frequently, with four levels gained. I’m not going to lie, I was eager to switch up classes by this point. I loved my grenades and grenade launcher, don’t get me wrong, but the third hour is always the roughest for me as I was ready to sample what the other classes had to offer.
The Final Numbers
(Please note, I have included the numbers from a few games in this series of editorials to use as a benchmark. Please refer to “Progressing Through the Modern Battlefield“, “Progressing Through Starhawk“, ”Progressing Through the Future (Soldier)“, and “Progressing Through (Spec Ops) The Line“ for further reading.)
Medal of Honor: Warfighter: 23
Battlefield 3: 15
Modern Warfare 3: 24
Medal of Honor: Warfighter: 208
Battlefield 3: 208
Modern Warfare 3: 294
Medal of Honor: Warfighter: Level 16
Battlefield 3: Level 7
Modern Warfare 3: Level 23
Medal of Honor: Warfighter: 13 classes unlocked, 14 paint schemes
Battlefield 3: 5 guns, 21 attachments
Modern Warfare 3: 8 guns, 16 attachments
Field Report Conclusion
The fun part is seeing how the game in question stacks up statistically against other games in its genre. Medal of Honor: Warfighter isn’t painfully slow in its progression like Battlefield 3. While the matches (depending on the game mode, of course) go quicker a la Modern Warfare 3, kills just don’t come as frequently as they do in a Call of Duty game.
Post-research playtime has been just as fun, though. I find myself playing every day or so, even if it’s just a game or two while I wait for my wife to get ready to play Borderlands 2. The process of unlocking soldiers one by one seems to be pretty quick, too. Just tonight, I went from level 34 to 36 after an hour and a half. The unlock system certainly has more depth to it than other shooters this year so far, and I would love to see some countries/weapons added as DLC in the future.