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Homefront Multiplayer Reveal

Homefront Multiplayer Reveal

Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter

On 2010-09-29, THQ invited a collection of journalists and other members of the media to the Presidio in San Francisco, California for a Homefront Multiplayer Preview Event. History was never one of my strong subjects in school, so it should not come as no surprise that I had no idea what the Presidio was. In fact, as far as I knew the Presidio was a multiplayer level in Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six game. After some quick online research, I discovered the Presidio is a historic landmark that used to serve as an army post for three nations. It is located on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In 1994, it was transferred to the National Park Service, ending 219 years of military use and beginning its next phase of mixed commercial and public use.

When I arrived at the Presidio, needless to say, I was awestruck by its beauty and your view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the park is stunning. I am assuming the location will be part of the game in some respects but I am merely speculating at this point. But enough about the Presidio as I want to tell you all my experiences with the hands-on look I received with some of the multiplayer components of THQ’s Homefront.

Just to give you a bit of background, Homefront is a First Person Shooter (FPS) from internal developer Kaos Studios. Penned by John Milius (Apocalypse Now, Red Dawn), Homefront is set ten years after the economic collapse of the United States and follows the American Civilian Resistance as they fight to reclaim their homeland from an oppressive North Korean occupation. Featuring a personal, story-driven single player campaign and a full suite of multiplayer options, Homefront is scheduled for release on the Xbox 360, PS3, and Windows PC in the 1st quarter of 2011.

The actual event took place at the Golden Gate Club which is located on the grounds of the Presidio, and we were greeted with Homeland screen shot posters throughout the club. During the event the developers of the multi-player aspect of the game indicated to us they wanted to take a different approach when compared to your typical FPS which generally involves World War II combat or mowing down aliens. With Homefront it’s all about fighting foreign invaders in the United States and defending your right to live. It is certainly an unsettling notion as many of the events which take place in the game mirror some of the events that are taking place in North Korea as we speak. That unsettling feeling and fear is exactly what THQ is hoping will drive gamers to Homefront. Sure it is exaggerated, and will likely never occur (knock on wood); that being said there is currently unrest in North Korea and it’s is not completely out of the question that an attack on the US could occur. Homefront’s story and single player experience will be examined further in a couple of weeks from now when fellow staffer Kirby Y will get a hands-on look at the Single Player experience in Homefront. I will be focusing on the Multiplayer aspect alone.

The development team at Kaos indicated the multiplayer design goal for Homefront is to incorporate large scale intense battles, on the fly strategic choices, and an evolving battlefield. The intense battles involve ground, air, and vehicular combat. The on the fly choices primarily involve the Battle Point system which the team at Koas tells us is not an Experience Point system. The evolving battlefield is the result of combat which continually shifts.

Homefront is a modern military shooter so many will be inclined to compare it to Call of Duty’s Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer modes. This is not bad thing, as let’s face it, Modern Warfare took online gaming to the next level. The game will have dedicated servers so handling the mentioned 32 player matches that Kaos mentiioned is do-able and should occur without a hitch. There will also be a fully featured experience and unlock system, which more details will be revealed at a later date.

The multiplayer games we played were pre-alpha, so in other words it was a little rough around the edges and by no means were we playing the final version of the game. In fact, the games we played had a few bugs and were not as visually sharp as the development team wanted the game to be; however, the team tells us they will be working hard over the next 4-5 months to polish this all up. Despite this, the version we played was impressive indeed and the core gameplay elements from the multiplayer arena were enjoyable.

The in-game weapons and vehicles on display for the hands-on multiplayer preview were impressive. We did not have access to all weapons and vehicles but we had a nice sample nonetheless. For instance, the game features a Maars Drone, Modified Apache Helicopter, Type 99mbt Tank, Air Recon Drone, and Humvee. Granted, there many variations of each of these vehicles and choppers, but you get the picture as the vehicles create an intense and relentless battle field.

What makes Homefront’s multiplayer experience stand-out compared to your traditional online shooter experience is the Battle Point (BP) system. BP is in essence your in-game currency. You can either spend or save your BP. You can purchase simple recon drones, where you tag your enemies to make it easier for your teammates to target them; or, you can save up and purchase a large airstrike provided you have accumulated enough BP in the game. Either way, matches can escalate in intensity and some large scale epic battles are inevitable. Purchasing on the fly immediately impacts the game. You can even re-spawn into the gunner position in an Apache Helicopter. Bottomline, there are many rewards besides just killing the enemy; however, the quickest way to collect BP is killing the enemy, which by the way, gets you approximately 100 BP a kill.

To give you an idea of some of the value of each item, a typical Air Assault drone will cost you 300 BP, but an Attack Heli will cost you 1400 BP. Even a casual online gamer like myself was able to do enough to acquire an Attack Heli and do some damage. So rookies to experienced shooters should be able to effectively compete in some of the online games in Homefront.

Unlike other shooter experiences where kill streaks are the only way to acquire say an airstrike or other bonuses, Homefront rewards team play as there are a variety of other ways to accumulate the BP throughout the game. Whether it be kill assists, shooting an enemy who is attempting to take an objective, tagging enemies with a drone, or merely driving a tank and having your teammate on the turret kill some enemies, there are a wide variety of ways to gain BP and ultimately purchase that Apache Helicopter or Tank. But getting one of these huge vehicles will not allow you to run rampant in the game. Every player has the ability to select a player equipped with missile launchers or RPG’s, so taking down a chopper is something anyone can accomplish at any time.

Only two maps, “Farm” and “Cul-de-Sac”, were on display during the hands-on. The game mode we played was called “Ground Assault”. Ground Assault plays very much like Modern Warfare’s Domination mode where you battle to capture 3 points (A, B and C). This mode offers up plenty of variety and strategy as the objectives move from location to another after a round has been won. Also the BP system allows for a seamless experience.

“Cul-de-Sac” is a smaller map and takes place in a ravaged urban American setting. There are plenty of abandoned houses and shacks to hide in and even a tattered gas station. Burning cars, busses and trucks are located everywhere. It was the smaller of the two maps, and considering it was at the Pre-Alpha stage it still was a good looking map. Some of the large vehicles are not available when playing this map which is likely a good thing as it would have been absolute chaos. It is a fast paced map where short range guns are the name of the game.

The second map we played, “Farm” is a large map which takes place in a wide open farm-like setting where barns are scattered throughout and curvy peaks are found throughout the map as well. It can be a snipers heaven; however with the evolving battlefields and destination points changing regularly you can never get too comfortable in one area. The games on this map seem to start out relatively quiet but it eventually gets crazy as all the vehicles are available on this map unlike the smaller “Cul-deSac” map.

The controls were very basic and will be familiar to those who have played shooters before. What really stood out for me was how easily it was to control the large vehicles and Attack Heli’s. Some other multiplayer modes in some unnamed games make it next to impossible for a gamer like me to control a Heli. This is not the case in Homefront. Controlling the Heli and moving it about the map is accomplished with relative ease. The learning curve is virtually non-existent and there is no need to scramble to look for the user manual once you hop in the Heli. This is yet another positive aspect of Homefront’s multiplayer mode which will draw in some of those causal gamers who might otherwise be intimidated by another shooter.

Overall, the multiplayer games were enjoyable and I just wish I could have spent more time with the game’s various multiplayer maps, weapons, and game types. I am very curious to see how this game will come along in the next few months as Homefront’s multiplayer game is headed in the right direction and will be sure to please not only the casual FPS gamer, but the hardcore one as well.


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