EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Preston Dozsa
previewed on PC
War... what is it made of?
When you think of a video game that revolves around war, odds are you are thinking of either playing a first-person shooter like Call of Duty, where you’re a grunt on the ground shooting baddies, or serving as a commander in an RTS like Company of Heroes, controlling the movements of squads and platoons across a broken and blasted battlefield. The Early Access title Foxhole combines both interpretations: you control a single soldier on a large map from a top down perspective, just like an RTS. But you are no commander, and very rarely will you find yourself embroiled in the gung-ho action familiar from most multiplayer shooters. Instead, you will engage in sandbox multiplayer warfare with dozens of players assisting you, where it is through teamwork and not heroism that the day will be won.
A cog in a machine
Set in a World War II era analogue, Foxhole places you in the middle of a large campaign where two teams fight for control of persistent online battlefields. With up to 120 players spread across the same map, which can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to be completely conquered, Foxhole requires that teams work together to win both the war and the smaller scale firefights that all too frequently erupt on the frontline. There’s not much a single soldier can do if they grab a rifle and charge to the frontlines beyond becoming the latest casualty. You are a cog in a machine, but it’s a machine that can break down if the cogs aren’t working for the greater good.
That greater good is made possible through Foxhole’s emphasis that it is proper logistics and supplies that will win the war. Materials can be gathered by players that are subsequently turned into usable materials such as ammo, weapons, vehicles and defenses. This can be done by any player, but it is crucial that this task is performed because those fighting on the frontlines will lack the tools necessary to push back against the enemy. The real heroes in Foxhole aren’t the men with rifles firing off into the distance, but the truck drivers and engineers who ferry troops and supplies to the frontlines or place walls and barbed wire to bolster your defenses.
This isn’t to say that simply heading to the front lines and hunting the enemy isn’t fun, it just lacks the immediate impact that you will find in other shooters. Learning the controls for aiming and shooting takes some time to get used to, and it’s often frustrating that you cannot move the camera forward far enough to see what lies just offscreen. You cannot rush into battle and expect to feel the same rush that you would in games like Planetside for example, as Foxhole requires more patience and a willingness to learn in order to unlock its full potential.
On my first trip to the front, roughly three minutes after I hitched a ride with a passing truck, I was obliterated by a machine gun nest in less than two seconds. Death in Foxhole comes quickly, and emphasizes the need to work with your team in order to win. Resigning myself to barbed wire duty to get the hang of things, I later joined a column of soldiers who were following behind a tank to break through a weak spot in the enemies’ defenses that a small squad had scouted earlier. With the tank clearing a pack, we swiftly mopped up the confused enemy resistance and claimed the base for ourselves. As ambitious as Foxhole is, it was in moments like this where I saw that with a dedicated community behind it, the game has the potential to provide a multiplayer experience that few others could hope to match.
When your team is communicating and working together, Foxhole is unlike any other multiplayer shooter in how exciting it is to see dozens of people working together through a variety of roles to win a campaign on the miles long maps. Requests for aid flow out constantly, and it is up to everyone to listen carefully and pay attention to the overall strategic goals that need to be accomplished to win. Whether you’re a truck driver delivering a cache of supplies in the nick of time or an engineer who has barely managed to defend a town from an enemy assault, Foxhole makes you feel like a part of a greater machine no matter what role you decide to take.
Foxhole isn’t a game for everyone, requiring plenty of time to learn the systems and a desire to communicate with the rest of your team in order to win. But for those who want a unique and fulfilling experience in a multiplayer shooter, then hop on in and get in the nearest truck. We’ve got a war to win.
There are no guarantees - but we'd bet our own money on this one. If you're going to take a chance with yours, odds are good this one will deliver.