Far Cry 3 Hands-On Multiplayer Preview – Twisted Firestarter!
Written Wednesday, April 04, 2012 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Unique multiplayer modes are fairly hard to come by these days. And for every Battlefield Rush, there's another lazily reheated horde mode. Even when multiplayer game types are well executed, chances are they're derivative in some way, and indeed, Far Cry 3's multiplayer appears to be no exception. That said, Ubisoft Montreal is cooking up some pretty smart twists on tried and tested multiplayer formulae, and on the basis of what we've gone hands-on with thus far, they might just be some of the best examples we've seen in some time.
Let loose on two modes across two maps, our hands-on with Far Cry 3's multiplayer is rather limited, but it offers us a nice taste of the numerous classes, buffs and other features you can expect. Domination is our induction into Far Cry 3's glorious green and azure paradise, all sparkling clear oceans, perfect blue skies and gently waving foliage. A tropical idyll that belies FC3's dark heart, although the rusting torpedo shells and decrepit submarine hull decaying in yellowy-green waters is an indication of the location's past on the Sub Pen map.
In Domination, mercs are pitted against pirates in a straight-up game of territorial to-ing and fro-ing, capturing designated areas on the map marked as nodes on your HUD. It's a mode that we've seen before in various guises, but here there's a constant back and forth between you and the opposing team, as you scramble to acquire each node and then strive to defend them in order to score. On the map that we're playing, there are only three command points to be captured, but they're always hotly contested. Before long you'll be racing from the Fish Market, to the Scrapyard to the Ammo Dump and back again in an effort to keep all of your positions locked down. No-one steals our damn Fish Market! Not on my watch!
For all intents and purposes then, Domination is the classic Battlefield-style Conquest mode albeit on a smaller scale. The Sub Pen map we play is beautifully designed though, with the perfect blend of open areas and choke-points, giving every one of Far Cry 3's seven classes their own advantages and disadvantages. For instance, a shotgun-wielding Rusher is in his element in an enclosed corridor or interior space, whereas the Sharpshooter can pick off enemies circling the exposed command points. However, a more all-round class is the best bet for cutting your teeth in FC3's frenetic matches.
If Domination is one of Far Cry 3's more conventional multiplayer modes, then Firestorm is something refreshingly different. Utilising the propagating fire technology from Far Cry 2 – albeit with a modicum of flow engineered by the designers for multiplayer – Firestorm tasks each team with igniting and destroying the opposition's fuel supplies, with the resulting flames spreading and dynamically altering the map. Friendly fuel dumps are marked as blue nodes, while the opposing team's fuel drums are red. You have to sabotage the enemy's pair of fuel supply points, set both alight and create a firestorm, which then prompts a countdown to the activation of a radio in the centre of the map. Securing the radio for your team calls in an airdrop that either ends the match in a fittingly spectacular, incendiary style or resets the match, starting it from square one.
To win, the first team to have ignited the fuel sites will call in their plane via the radio to drop gasoline and send the whole firestorm erupting across the island, while the team striving to prevent that from happening can activate the comeback mechanic and call in their plane to drop gallons of water to douse the flames and return the map to its original state. Playing Firestorm on the Temple map, it's another tense battle that proves to be enormous fun, especially when you're in the centre of the mossy, vine-ridden temple itself, flanked from all sides by rival players desperately trying to stop you calling in the fatal airdrop.
Again, Firestorm, like Domination puts each class to the test, although it favours the all-round skills of the Warrior with the trusty AK-47 and handgun, the Infiltrator with a silenced SMG and RPG launcher or the Militia class with a P416 Assault Rifle and Desert Eagle. A good Sharpshooter can also be invaluable during the radio call-in too, potentially keeping the area around the radio dish clear of hostiles. Another strategy is to booby-trap the dish with mines, so when everyone predictably runs headlong towards it to radio for the airstrike, devastation ensues. Alternatively, the Hunter can put the bolt-action rifle to good use too, or the Commando class can go all Arnold Schwarzenegger on everyone's asses with a scoped heavy machine gun. Ultimately, which class you choose to get the job done will come down to personal preference and play style, but there are plenty of options at your disposal.
There are incredibly useful buffs too, activated by simultaneously clicking both analogue sticks when you've friendly players nearby to shout out a Battle Cry. The HUD tells you how many allies are in the immediate vicinity, so choosing the optimum time to buff health or movement speed with a Battle Cry is important, as it can be an invaluable boost when you're rushing an objective with your team. Accumulate enough XP through Battle Cries, kills, revives or captured objectives, and your team can call in an airstrike too. You can deploy a confusing drop of psyche gas on the opposition, turning the screen a lurid yellow hue and every player into a hallucinatory glowing-eyed silhouette or build up enough XP to launch the barrel bombs, which can lay waste to a huge area on the map with a concentrated orange carpet of napalm.
Far Cry 3 multiplayer is bearing up rather well then, and with Daily Challenges, a tie-in phone app and a return for the powerful map editor with increased community features, it's clear that Ubisoft Montreal is taking it incredibly seriously. The controls are lifted wholesale from CoD too, making the action immediate and intuitive for any seasoned or indeed any dabbling FPS player. What we've experienced hands-on is certainly fast, frantic and fun, and while Domination is a twist on a tried and tested 'capture then defend points X, Y and Z' formula, Firestorm demonstrates a more inventive approach to team-based, objective chasing multiplayer with a neat use of the Dunia engine's propagating fire tech. More importantly however, both modes that we've had extended playtime with are enjoyable and compelling, which bodes well for Far Cry 3's long-term multiplayer appeal.
And the top player from the winning team can choose whether to brutally beat or show mercy to the opposing team's top player. No prizes for guessing the most popular choice... That's Far Cry 3 for you. Uncompromising. The same seems to be true of the game's multiplayer too.
Far Cry 3 is starting fires in September 2012.