Pee Inducing Gaming with SQUAD
Squad has released on Steam Early Access and has accrued some well deserved attention. The game had been in its alpha stages for early backers for a while but you can now officially throw your hard earned money at them. I was one of the many smitten when this game released its feature videos and I started smacking my credit card on my screen the moment I heard the quality of their in-game radios and positional audio, but let me list down some of its current features that will help you join me in humping its proverbial leg:
The game features some 1 to 4km2 maps that take players 10 to 20 minutes to cross. Furthermore the developers have promised to add 8km2 maps in future. These maps vary from dense forests to wide, expansive desert maps with localized urban fighting.
The core gameplay revolves around Small Unit Tactics. Players assume roles that are limited to the number of players in a squad such as squad leaders, medics, riflemen, grenadiers, marksmen and support gunners. This limited class based approach is important in getting players to experience a more team orientated game that discourages lone wolf behavior. Squad Leaders are given the responsibility of setting up rally points for the squad to spawn and entrenchment markers for Riflemen to construct base defenses; Medics are given first aid kits to heal and revive fallen comrades and Support Gunners have a huge ammo pool to provide covering fire in the face of overwhelming odds.
The aforementioned in game VOIP. In the number of hours I’ve played thus far, I’ve found the quality of their VOIP audio to be similar to, if not better than, TeamSpeak. The game tracks your avatar to apply a location to where your voice is coming from. ArmA’s in-game VOIP also does this, but sacrifices quality for stability. To achieve a similar result in ArmA, you’d need to fiddle with TeamSpeak and the ACRE mod. Squad on the other hand has this immersive audio experience built into the game. It even simulates radio interference over your voice when you speak to group!
Many have likened Squad to a mix of Battlefield and ArmA, and being a fan of both of those games, I can totally say that they're not wrong. The creators of Squad are the original developers of Project Reality, a mod of Battlefield 2 that increased the scope of the game's core mechanics. Unlike BF2 (and any of its successors), going off on your own and playing Rambo renders you practically useless by the game's standards, and such behavior will probably earn you the ire of the rest of your team. Squad simply gets you working with your team by necessity, and the developers have done this by introducing roles and including a popular variety of game modes such as:
Assault and Secure: players capturing flags in any order to bleed tickets,
Insurgency: BluFor (US) hunts and destroys Insurgent weapon caches while OpFor (Insurgents) defends them,
Territory Control: one team controls all flags on the map while the opposing team tries to capture them back.
There are some issues that I’ve found, however, which is the perennial issue of FPS being tied to server performance — something that ArmA players will undoubtedly be familiar with. The more players there are and the longer the server has run, the lower your frames. I have seen a marked difference between constantly populated US/European servers and the lower populated Asian/SEA servers with regards to the game’s performance. And because the game is still in Early Access, there are still some balancing issues that need to be addressed with regard to gunplay.
That being said, if you're interested in a game that doesn't hold your hand; requires you to heighten your senses; teaches you the usefulness of enfilade, defilade and flanking maneuvers; and involves realistic implementation of 3D-spaced communication, SQUAD IS THE GAME FOR YOU, SO MENTION ME IN #FPS NOW AND LET’S PLAY.