Medal of Honor Beta Impressions

I’ve had a chance to put my hands on the Medal of Honor multiplayer beta, and let me tell you, it’s pretty sweet.

Thanks to EA, I’ve had a chance to play a good number of hours in the Medal of Honor multiplayer beta, and so far, the experience has been great. The action is frantic, the settings are unique, and the two modes offered are both just plain fun. Read on to get all my impressions and learn what’s in store for the full game.

It’s hard to come across a game where having just two maps at your disposal (one for each gameplay type) is fun and highly replayable, but I found in my experience with the Medal of Honor beta, that I wasn’t growing tired of the gameplay or the maps. The two gameplay types on offer are Team Assault (standard team deathmatch) and Mission (where you and your teammates fight towards objectives and the opponents try to prevent you from reaching them). The two modes are both fun, and show a constraint in size for DICE, who are accustomed to developing gigantic maps for the Battlefield series.

Team Assault takes place on a map called Kabul City Ruins. Crumbling buildings loom all around the map, humvees burn, and obstacles to hide behind are everywhere. But make no mistake, this isn’t a great map for snipers. Rather, the map encourages all out close-quarters warfare. It’s small, and as a result, nearly impossible to avoid combat for more than 30 seconds at most, and that’s if you’re trying to avoid it.

The HUD on screen presents a from-above map of the surroundings, and enemies appear on your map as small orange arrows when they fire their weapons (and possibly sprint, it’s hard to tell what, exactly, makes them show up). This allows you to have some idea about where enemies are, but you won’t have much time to look at the map because the action is absolutely frantic. The game packs a pretty large sized number of players into the small map, and rockets fire all around, bullets whiz, and teammates drop like flies. The most consistently successful strategy in Team Assault is sticking together with a group of teammates, allowing you to get the drop on enemies and reducing the number of casualties through overwhelming your enemies in number.

The weapons on offer feel great, and feel appropriately balanced. Battle rifles can finish an enemy off quickly but offer slow shot pace, while rocket launchers blow away portions of walls and take out enemies en masse. A surprising aspect of the map, however, was the lack of overall destructibility. DICE’s Frostbite Engine, on which the multiplayer component is built, offers the ability to practically level buildings, but nearly everything in the beta is solid. Fixed objects such as stacked bricks will get blown away, but walls don’t fall apart and buildings don’t fall down in the fighting.

Obviously, the goal in the deathmatch modes is to concentrate players in a small area, allowing for frantic combat, so perhaps allowing full destruction on such a small map would leave huge open spaces far too quickly. This may explain why the ability to destroy buildings is left out of Medal of Honor’s deathmatch components, but it would be nice to have some smaller maps that lack destructible environments paired with some larger maps that allow full scale buildings crashing and trees falling.

As a result, Team Assault feels like a Modern Warfare-type experience. Make no doubt about it, this is a DICE-fueled experience, but it lacks some of DICE’s hallmarks and clearly defines it as a different multiplayer experience from Battlefield.

Mission is an interesting game mode that offers a map in which one team has to get to 4 or 5 objective markers in order to win the battle. The objective of the defending team (the Taliban, in the case of Talmud Valley, the map on offer in the beta) is to prevent the coalition troops from reaching the checkpoints. Holding them off long enough wins the battle, but it’s a tough, tough task.

Mission mode is fun because there’s a set mission. Get to this checkpoint, defend this checkpoint, etc. It doesn’t require a whole lot of teamwork – players generally threw themselves towards the enemy until they blew up a blockade and moved on to the next checkpoint – but continues to offer fast-paced, hectic, death-filled mayhem. It’s fun, but Talmud Valley felt too constrictive. I would rather have seen larger, more open maps that allow for players to set up in sniper positions and experience an almost full-fledged battlefield. I think back to Battlefield: Bad Company (the first one) and it’s Gold Rush mode. That featured expansive maps and HUGE battles. I suppose for a game mode like Mission it would be better to have a larger map than Talmud Valley offered. Talmud Valley was small, constricted, and offered no alternative to close quarters combat. It felt like I was funneled through the map.

The only other problem I found with the beta was that the Taliban and Coalition troops looked so similar. The only way to identify my teammates versus enemies was a small, white arrow above my teammate’s heads. The colors of Taliban troops looked awfully similar to those of Coalition troops. There were many instances in both Mission and Team Assault modes where I thought a player was on my team only to get popped.

Up close, the players look different. Coalition troops wear your typical desert fatigues with helmets, and Taliban fighters wear their traditional garb, but from even a short distance it’s hard to distinguish, leading to an unfortunate shoot first mentality.

Overall, the beta for Medal of Honor offers a glimpse into what could be an absolutely furiously addicting multiplayer game. A few small changes and perhaps some different sized maps could make this a worthy opponent to Modern Warfare’s online-FPS crown.