- Price: $49.99
- Developer: Offworld Industries
- Publisher: Offworld Industries
- Platform: PC
The PC game SQUAD has hit version 2.0 this week. After five years in early access, SQUAD is a large-scale first-person squad-based warfare game. SQUAD utilizes maps up to 16 km2 squads of 9 players coordinate in teams of up to 50 to combat an opposing team to complete the mission’s objectives.
This Unreal engine game came into development from former developers of the Project Reality mod team for Battlefield 2. This game sought to add more realism into the first-person shooter market, dominated by action-heavy or arcades like shooters such as Modern Warfare and Apex Legions.
SQUAD has evolved over many years; it has added multiple vehicle mechanics and assets to support its seven playable factions. Varying from NATO and traditional armed forces of the British, Canadian, Russian, Middle Eastern Alliance, USA, to rebel factions of middle eastern Insurgents and Russian separatist Irregular Militia. The former sections have their various weapons systems and vehicles, and the latter having improvised and salvaged assets.
This conflict occurs across 20 Unique Maps with seven game modes. These maps range from Northern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, and Canada, offering differing terrain and environmental effects. Some of the maps are based on real locations, and others are merely inspired by the terrain of an area. This game supports four capture point modes, Advance and Secure (AAS), Skirmish, Random Advance and Secure (RAAS), and Invasion. AAS and Skirmish allow two sides to seize known capture points, where RAAS has capture points that unknown to each side and only revealed as the points are secured. The invasion mode has one side attempt to repel an invading army who must capture a point before the next point is revealed. Objective game modes are Destruction, Insurgency, and Territory Control. Destruction has the attacking team attempt to destroy caches before moving on to the next set of caches in a new zone. Insurgency game mode has random caches spawning across a map that must be found and destroyed. In contrast, Territory Control divides a map into a swath of hexagonal tiles that can only be captured in order. The main driving force in all these modes is the number of tickets, which represent the number of spawns of soldiers, cost of vehicles, and the value of the forward operation bases. The Team with zero tickets remaining loses.
As a team-based game, there is great emphasis on the squad roles and teamwork. Squad leaders are responsible for leading their squads, coordinating with the Team, placing rally points where their squads can spawn, and deploying assets. Medics revive and heal teammates, thus Lessing the ticket bleed as the rounds progress. Riflemen conduct general warfare and provide ammo to their units. Automatic Riflemen provide heavy fire via light machine guns. Grenadier offer high explosives via launched grenades, and mark targets with smoke grenades. Marksmen are equipped with high-power optics and long-range weapons to provide medium to long-range fire. Light and Heavy Anti-tank offer the antivehicle squad weaponry. Combat Engineers have mines and high explosives that, along with specialized entrenching tools, can build or destroy assets faster than other units. Other factions have variations on these basic unit exclusive to their faction. To keep this chaos in proper order, there is three levels of voice communications. Commander Channel is the level exclusive to squad leaders, where they coordinate to ensure that the various squads’ disparate assets are in the correct positions or can give aid to each other. Squad Channel is reserved for the members of each squad to communicate with each other. The local channel allows members of different squads to communicate but only within proximity. Also, there are text chats, that allow all players in the server to see written chat, Team which only your Team can read, and the squad which Is exclusive to your squad.
Adding to this complexity is a forward operation base (FOBs) system that requires supply vehicles and squads to construct and keep supplies. This also included the ammunition that soldiers expend during the game. These FOBs can also support machine gun and mortar emplacements to provide fire support. In addition to powerful yet expensive anti-vehicle weapons that can change the tide of a battle.
All these factors combined become a heady concoction that is not found regularly in this scale of other games. Coordinating a team of 50 across 162 kilometers of battlespace while an opposing team attempts to thwart your efforts is an experience that keeps the players of this game coming back through its five year plus development cycle. Additional expansion abilities and factions are promised by the active developers and promise to keep this game relevant for years to come.
This game is still not without its problems. Its graphics are not the cutting edge. While AAA games from larger game companies can boast better graphics and make it look quaint in comparison, it still is far from an ugly game, especially considering the size of the maps that it displays these graphics. For a new player, the game is a bit overwhelming and obtuse. This game relies on the skill and abilities of the players to communicate and coordinate. If the Squad Leaders are not ensuring their assets are not incorrect positions, the outcome can become very one-sided. As a player, if you are used to the type of games that spoon-feed you objectives and tactics, this game may not be for you. It is not a simple run and gun game with loot boxes and unlocks. The only special items are reserved for early backers of the project and consist of very few cosmetic options. I was an early sponsor of the game and received different rocket launchers that only have witty scribbling on an otherwise normal weapon. The development road map of this game is very unreliable, and it has taken far longer than intended. Players of this game are still waiting for fast rope, being able to deploy from a helicopter without landing, and updates to game modes to make them work better. However, there is more than enough here to make the gameplay compelling.
If this overview makes you interested in this game, you should check out Youtube videos and Twitch streams to see how this game plays. The game regularly has free weekends on the Steam platform, which allows you to download the game and play it for a short period of time. Be warned that the gameplay on these free weekends is subpar, as this game relies on teamwork and skill. So take your experience with a grain of salt.