I'm a huge fan of PvP centric MMO's played out as a campaign with a begining and end. Add mechanics that emphasize team play, territory and resource control, along with a healthy metagame component, and you've got me interested. EVE, Battleground Europe, and GW2's WvW are such games and this little gem really hits the mark when it comes to good games in this genre. Want to know more? Read on!
Foxhole was released as a Steam Early Access game this week. There are two game modes. You can play on a specific map server, and/or you can play in a longer campaign which essentially links the individual server maps together and a team must gain control of all the maps to be declared the victor. An individual map game will generally last a few days while a full campaign could take a number of weeks to play out.
Once you join a map you commit to playing either Colonials or Wardens on that map or in that campaign. Your characters level and rank is persistent across all maps and also persistent on each of the maps you may be involved playing in terms of your current loadout and inventory on that map.
What really has caught my interest are some unique mechanics that address some of the difficulties and imbalances often encountered in team based campaign style play.
1. Numbers balancing.
There is currently a 50 online player cap for each side and you cannot enter the map if one side currently has 15 more players than the other side. A queuing system is in place to join a map if the map is full or one side is overpopulated. Your character can be involved in multiple campaign maps so you can either wait in queue or jump into another map you have been playing. I have not had to wait more than a few minutes on any map I am playing if there is a queue.
In many games of this type you can build and improve structures and defenses. However, you are typically limited to fixed build plots and defenses are generally inert or less than effective when not manned. In this game there is no real limit to what and where you can build. Though the layout of a map is fixed, defenses, foward bases, and other strong points can be built virtually anywhere. Thus, while there are logical places you will want to build up strong points ... like key road junctions, resource nodes, and chokepoints ... it is up to the players where and how those strongpoints are constructed. This tends to make it quite interesting because you are not always attacking the same exact structures in the same locations.
3. Supply and Logistics
Everything in the game, down to the last 7.62mm shell for your rifle, needs to be produced by players. This includes for example a soldier uniform that you need to spawn. If you want to be able to spawn at that great Foward Base your team just built, you need to produce those uniforms and get them to the outpost you constructed at that location. Supply and Logistics is not just some extra bolt on, but rather, a core and necessary component of the game. This makes things interesting because supply interdiction is key to success and keeping those supply lines safe for travel results in some great battles on the map.
4. Active Defense
The definition of frustration in these types of games is where your team works their ass off to take a strongpoint and build up defenses, only to wake up 8 hours later to see it all swept away by the 5 off prime time enemies that were online while you slept. Now this certainly can happen in this game, but due to how defenses work and the controls for side population, a handful of enemy are not going to be able to easily roll through your unmanned defenses. And due to the fact that defenses are not constructed on fixed plots in the same exact way everytime, they will first have to figure out how best to attack your position and rollback those in depth defenses you created.
The actual combat in the game is third person isometric top down reminescent of Running with Rifles if you are familiar with that game. Successfully attacking a strongpoint will demand coordination of a team with a variety of loadouts and talents. Artillery, medics, heavy machine gun suppressing fire, sappers, and the like are all important.
Anyway, at $17.99 on sale at Steam its worth a look if these types of game interest you.
The Early Access Release
How The Map Strategy Works