They say that no bond is stronger than that which is forged by fighting side by side in combat. Having just become obsessed with (and finished) the TV show Band of Brothers, I was super excited to get stuck into the new team-based MMO – “Foxhole”.
Foxhole is a just-out-of-early-access sandbox MMO with a WW2 setting. It’s half top-down and have third person shooter – a little like “Running With Rifles” (which is a great game if you haven’t played it). The premise of Foxhole is that you fight on one of two sides, the Colonials or the Wardens – both vying for control over several theatres of war that thrust 120 players into the fray. In order to win, you must work as a team to gather resources, construct defences, and order weapons/supplies – all whilst pushing back the enemy who are doing the same.
In Foxhole you take on the role of a single soldier. You need to manage equipment and various supplies in order to effectively fight as a unit. Some players will choose to be combat engineers – gathering building materials and building defences, whilst other players will work on producing weapons. Perhaps the least played role in Foxhole is that of the logistics driver – it can be a bit of a ball-ache to build a truck and fill it with fuel in the early game, so quite often you’re waiting around for someone to be nice enough to offer a lift – all the while staring at perfectly good trucks that have been locked by their selfish former owners.
The combat in Foxhole is great fun – fighting side-by-side with players sporting heavy machine guns, mortars, rifle grenades and more. Once you’ve levelled up the tech level of your factories, it’s possible to produce howitzer emplacements, mobile anti-tank guns, and even tanks themselves.
There needs to be more incentive for players to provide troop transport/logistics, as currently everyone charges past in their trucks without stopping to ferry you along to your destination on the way – I don’t want to see a class system, as it would restrict play-style at points in the game, but there definitely needs to be a motivating factor that drives players to carry out a particular role. This is also true of medics, artillery and mortars – all crucial roles in this kind of warfare, yet rarely seen in game so far.
The whole basis of teamwork in Foxhole relies upon two things – the overall goal of winning the war, and the commendation system. All players level up as they gain battlefield experience, but this has no bearing on their rank. Commendations are earned by carrying out actions such as building, healing and fighting – and these can be dished out to players who you deem worthy of ranking up.
The commendation system is a cool idea – but it’s currently not fleshed-out enough to encourage people to use it properly. As a result you don’t get commended when you really deserve it, because many players don’t understand its purpose; opting to give them to their friends so that they can get enough to create their own squad. As the game develops, it’d be great to see higher ranks given unique abilities/privileges such as the ability to buff nearby troops or to call in airstrikes or transports.
Joining a little group of other players and communicating that you want to work together is very satisfying in Foxhole. It takes real people skills and actual tactical knowhow to get a squad up and running – digging into a defensive position or going on a recon patrol to look for holes in the enemy’s line.
For those players who get really into the persistent online war, you can log onto the Foxhole website and track stats each week – detailing who won each conflict, how long it took, how many resources were spent etc.
In Band of Brothers, the soldiers formed a bond that meant they would do anything to aid and protect their fellow comrades. In Foxhole, you’ll be lucky if people even bother to chat to you, let alone give you a lift to the frontline or give you instructions.
Don’t get me wrong, this game is fantastic and will only continue to get better – but the main flaw right now is that there isn’t enough incentive to work together. This isn’t necessarily the game’s fault, rather an unpleasant reflection on how selfish humans are these days.
Foxhole will only get better, especially as there’s already a heap to get stuck into – making every game you join and every battle you fight, a totally unique experience. If development remains solid and the community continues to thrive, I estimate that Foxhole may be able to push up from a 7, to a 9/10.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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