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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Medal of Honor Map and Weapon Design

No intro today. Just content.

The maps in the Medal of Honor beta don't need, at first glance, much improvement from their current state. For what they are, they could very easily be final game maps (as well they might). There are a couple things I can say about them, since if there weren't, I wouldn't have much of a topic tonight would I?

Beginning with the Helmand Valley map, I think overall this map doesn't need a whole lot of actual physical changes. Of those it does need, the first is easier access for the one and only tank the map provides (barring the rare two tank game). The bridge has two boxes that impede tank movement completely which cannot be destroyed by Bradley bullets of any kind (something outside of any reality). While there is an alternate route for tanks, the way you have to drive the tank doesn't allow for a lot of quick, calculated movements and it's awkward to say the least.

As for infantry, the map doesn't really favor either side too much. While the attackers certainly have an uphill climb on their hands and limited troops, the decreased respawn time and multiple routes behind the defenders lets them put up an offensive that, if coordinated correctly, is impossible to stop. I'll talk about the respawn tomorrow with gameplay, but now I'll say that it needs tweaking. Also, while I'm on the topic of alternate routes, I have to say that the map is, if anything, too big, with far too much open space. First, with so much damage from weapons and so little health per soldier, pot shots take down enemies in no time. Second, if the shooter has any accuracy, even the best shooter won't last too long unless he spawns right in the action on someone who managed to make it to the front without dying. The map size also comes into play with the number of players per side. Even at twelve at maximum, a coordinated assault by three or four attackers from one of the many flanking positions compromises the defenders just long enough for the plant and the push forward. This, combined with the close together spawn points of the defenders and the tendency of spawn killing among many players leads to a very one sided game regardless of respawn times. Again, this depends almost solely on coordination or the skill of a few players, but it's not fun for the defenders in most cases.

The other map in the beta Kabul City Ruins, is all infantry, and its design reflects this. Close spaces and long corridors with specific sniping positions, easily accessible by anyone and rotating spawns, all combined with short respawn times keeps everything fast and hard. A couple parts of the map need fleshing out or removal, like the stairs to nowhere or the blocked off sniper house stairs, though this probably won't be an issue in the final product. Players quickly deduce the major lines of troop movement on the map and capitalize on them, but with the chaos of battle, and this map really rewards that, keeps things interesting. Adding to the strategy in the map design is the verticality. With different levels of play, whoever has the high ground has the advantage and teams who use it almost always win. That being said, with the multiple ways to said high ground and very short respawn times, barring a spawn trap, advantage shifts.

There are some negatives about this map, though. The above mentioned quirks aside, what breaks and what doesn't isn't always clear and the predicability of where the main conflict happens is something that might monotonize the game. While I don't think that destructable environments are really necessary here, since the map is far too small for that, something needs to happen to free up more of the map for play. For example, there is an entire middle hallway, quite large, in fact, that gets very little playtime, simple because it is so open. If parts of it received cover, even a little bit, it might take some of the load of the other three areas of major combat.

As with all things, the combat in the game relies on the weapons, and from where I see it, there are only six weapons in the game, with grenades being equipment. The rifle, the spec ops, the battle rifle, the pistol, the rocket launcher the bolt action. Stat wise the two factions are identical barring attachments, so I'll talk along these general lines. The rifle (M16, AK-47) is perhaps a little overpowered. Low recoil, especially if burst fired, and equal damage at all ranges makes it a universal death machine. Damage falloff, at least a little more than there is now, would be nice for it. Don't take it so far as the spec ops (M4, AK-74u), but more is better. As for the spec ops, these are probably the best balanced, though still a little over the top. The damage falloff isn't what it should be for a carbine, even at the longest ranges. Still, at all but across map, it's basically a rifle with a different name. The battle rifle (SVD and M21), with either scope, takes a little more skill to use, but because of the instant-shot-from-gun-to-hit and one hit kill headshots, accurate shooters with quick trigger fingers make quick work of almost anyone at long ranges and even quicker close up. The recoil on these is much more, almost too much, leading to wild shots sometimes. Still, it balances the weapon more for its power. The pistols (M9 and Tariq) are pocket rifles with much smaller magazines. The damage is a bit less, but not by much, and three to four shots kills. With across map accuracy, pistol play, while not quite so easy as rifle or spec ops play, is still possible. Rocket launchers, which I put the rifle grenade into, are a little weak, but with straight line shots and instant kill hits or close-by hits make them really powerful in the hands on someone who knows how to use them. The slow reload time and lack of ammunition, however, severely, and properly balance them, so they are perhaps the best balanced weapon currently. The bolt actions are great for either game mode, thought he play style differs tremendously between them. The accuracy and power balanced by the need to hold your soldiers breath makes running and running a little hard, but they are still not to be trifled with. At the longest ranges, a center mass body shot probably should be a one hit kill or close to it, but that's just me and my knowledge of sniper rounds at almost any range, especially bolt action. The only thing I have to say about grenades is that their blast radius needs a little boost and that you need to be able to throw them farther. Not as far as Call of Duty, but father than you can right now.

Thanks for reading,

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