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Rekoil Hands On Preview

The good not-so-old days.

As developers of the Battlefield games, DICE should know how to recognize a good multiplayer map when they see one. After Jason Brice posted his first attempt at a Battlefield map on his personal website, DICE swooped in overnight and told him they wanted to make it an official piece of DLC. From that point onward, Brice has been making maps for multiplayer shooters, and now he’s working on his very own full game, Rekoil, to put all of his training to another big test. I got to play several rounds of a capture the flag type match-up when I was at QuakeCon and had Brice at my side to share what he hoped to accomplish with Rekoil. 

There was a certain “sweet spot” in the timeline of multiplayer shooters, a pinnacle that Brice says the genre tumbled down from. I don’t think Brice hates the current crop of shooters, but sometime in the last decade, things started to cater a bit more to the mainstream audience and focus more on collecting XP than getting skill-based kills. Rekoil dials back all of those recent changes with a set of arenas and match types that should give us lots of opportunities to shoot each other on an even playing field once again.

The only level I was able to try out was a lumber yard with stacks of cut trees between two industrial buildings made of corrugated steel. Each of these buildings acted as the base for each team where their briefcase (read: flag) was stationed. Everything operated how you would expect in your typical CTF match-up, but focusing on this one level did give me a good chance to really get to know the small map and the various weapons and specialties that give Rekoil its foundation.

The lumberyard map felt a little small, but this lent itself to quick retrieval of the other team’s briefcase and led to a lot of back and forth on the scoreboard. Your characters move pretty fast even when walking, but using the sprint function typically sped them up to be pretty zippy. Top speeds are limited by what your class and load out are, though, so when you pick the hulking rocket-propelled grenade you become the slowest target around.

There were five classes to choose from, including the RPG-carrier, so you’re likely to find one that fits your play style. I spent the most time with the assault and sniper classes, and had a lot of fun with both. The machine guns I ran around with as the assault class seemed to pack a wallop with enough realistic kickback to keep you from simply clearing the level with strafing fire. Using the sniper rifle and its telescopic site was joyful, as switching between the scope and full view perspectives was extremely fast and gave me the capability to run around while still getting off a few long-distance headshots.

I did have a little trouble jumping on top of the lumber piles like you are clearly supposed to be able to do, but I’m going to assume that was user error on my part and not the game. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to put myself atop those mounds anyway as it seemed like I’d be a nice clean shot for anyone anywhere on the map. I tended to stay mired between the lumber and lean out to pick off unsuspecting runners headed past with our team’s briefcase in tow. The map seemed to allow for a variety of play styles to meld with the selection of classes you have to choose from. It’s obvious that Brice’s intuition for quality multiplayer map making is still thriving in this project.

Brice talked of the other match types that will be available, most of which are the typical fare, but he’s got a few fun modes planned like one based on the Half Life 2 mod, The Hidden. Rekoil’s version of this mode will have one player being essentially invisible with no firearms to speak of. The rest of the players will be hunting him down to try and win the match. If this or the other nine planned match types don’t satisfy you for long, creative users might create something more to your liking. Brice is committed to providing the resources to create a thriving mod community and hasn’t forgotten how he got started on this path into game development. He isn’t about to close it off to others looking to innovate in the same way he did. Brice’s passion for playing multiplayer shooters is easy to sense as he talks about how he got here and what he’s trying to accomplish. Even with the small piece of the game I got to mess around with, it’s obvious that he has the skills to back up his enthusiasm. Although Brice is rolling back the clock a little on features you might have grown accustomed to in the last few years, it seems like he hasn’t lost sight of what makes an engaging and addictive first person shooter. Talking with Brice and taking the game on a short spin have me really looking forward to playing the full game when it’s released later this year on PC and Xbox Live.



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