Adventures in Insurgency: The match that wouldn't end0 Comments
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to tell you a story about my first experiences with an online shooter called Insurgency. The game recently celebrated its two year anniversary, and I got a chance to try it out for the first time, leading to a series of events that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share.
Given that I had no experience with the game, and didn't even really know what style of shooter it would be outside of its modern military theme, I started with the tutorial, which was presented as a one man training session gone wrong. For the most part it taught me what you'd expect — hint: left mouse button shoots — but it also showed me that the game has a strange focus on “realism,” as well as a point based loadout system that can be customized in-game by walking over to a pile of grey boxes. That last detail will be important in the coming story.
After making my way through the tutorial, I noticed that the game has an option for solo play with bots for those, like myself, who wanted a feel for the actual gameplay before jumping into the online play. I tried out a playlist simply called “Classic,” thinking it would obviously be the best starting point, and was thrown into a new match, with my only indication of what I was supposed to do being a “0/15 Eliminated” at the bottom of the screen. Sounds simple enough. Kill the bad guys, I can handle that. It didn't take long to discover that this was one of those games where you die incredibly quickly, and often without any real way of knowing how you died at all. I also discovered that you stay dead when that happens.
Having learned this, I restarted the match and played more carefully this time around, taking out all of the enemy combatants as the last surviving member of my team, with a nice “15/15 Eliminated” at the bottom of my screen. Something was amiss, though. The match had not ended. I was still sitting in a — now completely empty — map, unsure of what was going on. Looking around, I noticed what seemed to be an objective marker, a red diamond with a letter in it. On further inspection I discovered that it was marking an enemy weapon cache. “Do I need to destroy this to end the match?” I asked myself, and aimed my rifle at it.
What followed was possibly the most cliché bullet ricochet sound and animation I've ever experienced, effectively informing me that this was not the way to handle this situation. “A grenade then,” I supposed, and began scrolling my mouse wheel through my equipment. I didn't have any frag grenades equipped though, just some non-lethal ones. Obviously I would need to swap out for something that could actually do some damage. Remember the grey boxes I was taught to go to when I wanted to swap out equipment in the tutorial? I went looking for them on this map. They don't exist.
After a couple minutes of searching I finally just started hitting buttons, eventually mashing the M key I had used at the boxes in the tutorial, which gave me the screen to change equipment, despite the fact that there were no boxes around. Strange, considering the otherwise adamant attempts at realism from the game, right down to the fact that you aren't even allowed to know how many bullets are in your magazine. Regardless, I swapped some points out so that I would have access to a frag grenade. I went back to the weapon cache, threw the frag so perfectly at the cache that it landed directly on one of its open cases, and yet, when the explosion for the grenade triggered, it was only the grenade that exploded. The cache was still perfectly intact. And now I was out of grenades.
“Maybe I need C4 to destroy it?” I tried reasoning, hiding from the fact that this had long ago become the dumbest way to end a match of “kill the bad people” I had ever played in a shooter. “Perhaps I can swap classes to one that has C4 and it will resupply me?” Then I spent a couple more minutes pressing random buttons trying to figure out how to swap classes, before eventually realizing that classes are called “Squads” in this game, which isn't at all confusing. I found the Squad Swap screen, chose one that seemed like it would have C4, and proceeded to the “Modify Kit” screen so that I could swap out its frags for C4. Upon hitting apply though, I had not, in fact, changed squads. I was the same frag-less person I had already been.
Let me guess — your squad probably changes on respawn, huh? That is unfortunate in a mode where there are no respawns. Also a mode where it is literally impossible to end the match if you don't have a way to destroy the weapon cache. For the next seven minutes or so of the match timer I was running around, hoping beyond hope that I could maybe pick up an enemy's grenades or something to try again. That never happened. Eventually the timer ran out and my screen darkened and I was greeted with the word “DEFEAT.” Good.
It's okay though, because the game then showed me that we were on the same page when the next match started up, gave me the five second pre-match countdown, and then immediately crashed. First impressions are important, Insurgency, and you gave me one hell of a poor first impression. While that did lead to me calling it quits for that night, I ended up returning to the game to give it a proper look-over in its online environment, not wanting to write it off so easily. While the game did seem to work as intended from that point on, it didn't do much to mark itself as something I'd have fun playing.
I could probably take this opportunity to go into more detail about the game itself. I could talk about the different modes, all of which seem to be beatable by simply killing enough people, regardless of the actual objective — except for the aforementioned "kill 15 people" mode, ironically — or the strangely restrictive Squad system that can force you into a loadout you don't want if others on your team have claimed the ones you enjoy. Let's be honest though, this is a two year old shooter that has already established itself as what it is and drawn in those who are likely to enjoy it. My criticisms at this point would serve as little more than further proof that I am not the target market for this odd shooter.
Insurgency seems like the kind of game that would have a small, but passionate group of fans who play it religiously and genuinely love their time with it. What I've discovered over my few hours with it is that I am not a part of that group. It gave me something fun to write about though, and that's certainly made it worth the time I've put in.