Echo Seven, Keypad Five: Move to Support
Your first ten minutes in Squad will not be gentle. Your hand will not be held and your personal feelings will not be considered. You'll likely be thrown into a battle unlike anything you've ever experienced before. With an M4 rifle, some ammo and a bandage, you're being sent into the front lines under your squad leader's command. You spawn into the middle of a forest, trying to gather what information you can about your surroundings.You can't even think through the invasive sounds of gunshots and explosions. There's people screaming for a medic or requesting orders from their SL, who is already trying to communicate with six other SL's trying to get you and your squad mates out of that sticky situation.
You manage to figure out how to talk and express to the people in your vicinity that you are in fact new to the game and have no idea what's going on. Your SL welcomes you in what seems like a rather sarcastic and rude tone. But you shrug it off because he seems a little bit stressed and busy. Considering he managed to welcome you while rapping orders to both your squad mates and the other squad leads. At this point, you've laid prone in the grass for about 5 minutes. In awe about what has transpired around you before you've even fired a bullet.
You hear your squad lead take a deep breath and all of a sudden the firing stops. Everything's quiet. A teammate next to you explains that they had just been ambushed and that you joined at the worst possible time. But it's over now and you have a few seconds to get ready and move out. Your SL barks out another order, but this time in a much calmer tone. He explains the basics of the game to you while you're walking to the next objective. You still have no idea what's going on but you're alive and not being shot at so everything seems okay.
"That lasted long."
You crest a hill with your squad and instinctively everyone hits the dirt. You of course clumsily lay down as well but you're confused as to how everyone managed to be so synchronized and not utter a single word. Your SL has now pulled out binoculars and looks into the town ahead. You hear rifles being cocked and magazines being switched as your SL starts calling out "135, 140, 141, 143" and you have no idea what's happening. Before you can ask what your SL is talking about he screams "Weapons Free!" over the microphone and a hail of bullets leaves your squad's guns into the village below. You have no idea what anyone's shooting at as you can't see anything with your iron sights. You try asking your teammates but you can't make out a damn word through all the noise.But you'll be damned if you're going to look like a fool and you start firing rapidly into windows and doors below. The enemy, whoever they are and wherever they might be, are returning fire and you see your squad members start taking hits. One by one they start falling. The medics scream to you for covering fire while they tend to the wounded but you still have no idea where the enemy even is.
Finally, you see one. He's far away, probably about 600 meters out but you see the bastard and this is your time to shine. You'll show these guys that just because you're a rookie doesnt mean you can't be effective. In all the excitement you hit the wrong key and stand straight up from the grass. Before you can even blink you've been shot 10 times. You call for a medic but he's dead too.
The game ends abruptly and a scoreboard appears. It says your side has won but as to how that happened you have no clue. What you do know though is that you had a good time and can't wait for the next round.
The round begins and you join the same squad as last game. Everyone welcomes you back and the SL calls out that you'll be moving out to echo seven, keypad five to support squad 3.
What Makes Squad Great
Although Squad is in Early Access, it still offers a full experience in terms of what a good game should be. The basics are all there. Sure, the developers are still adding content and polishing what content is already in place. But when it comes to the meat of the game Squad is fully flavored and fully playable. Let's go over some of the things that make Squad a fantastic Early Access title.
The gunplay in Squad is unlike most other first person shooters. Moving and aiming, as well as switching from primary to secondary feels clumsy and slow. As it should, though. Squad is meant to be realistic and it should take about 6-8 seconds to pull out an RPG and get it ready to fire. This isn't a fast-paced shooter by any means (although it can be). If you're expecting fast fluid gunplay then you may want to look at another title. The aiming and firing can be meticulous and require practice and skill to master both the recoil patterns as well as the bullet drop. Personally, I find the firing mechanics to be spot on. The slow reloading and the awkward yet sensible draw times make it feel more like a military simulator and less like Call of Duty.
The graphics in Squad are good. Really good. But they're definitely not top of the line or next generation. Everything has bright colors and smooth textures similar to when you go outside. The sun shines and reflects off surfaces and the shadows created by said sun are realistic and fluid. The details of the environment even go so far as to add ragdoll physics and minor environmental destruction.
Squad, as mentioned before, is a team based game. You won't get away with trying to split off by yourself and be a "lone wolf." It just doesn't happen. Good SL's will actively kick players who are not contributing towards the team and it's the same thing with server admins.
Teamwork is what makes the game so much fun. Having that comradery with your squad mates during an intense firefight or singing a marching song while walking to the next objective makes you feel like you belong. Like the guys standing beside you have been family for decades. When realistically you just met them 20 minutes ago.
For example, last weekend I was playing with some buddies I met through the game and we were traveling to the objective titled "Lumberyard". Primarily because it was in fact, a lumber yard, but who ever said creativity couldn't be simplicity?
Anyways we were walking up through a field when we crested a hill and saw at least 20 men moving into Lumberyard. Through the local chat we could hear the friendly squad inside screaming for help. Pleading for their lives as they were fully surrounded and running out of munitions. My squad picked up the pace and commenced a counter attack comparable to Gandalf coming to save the Rohirrim at Helms Deep.
After the battle, the remaining friendly troops praised us and thanked the lucky stars that we had showed up. It turns out that losing Lumberyard would have meant certain defeat for our side. My men and I were ecstatic to help and the mood shifted from "Just playing a few games with friends" to " SPARTANS, WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION?" levels of energy.
Squad Definitely Has Flaws Though...
Although Squad is fun and enjoyable at almost all times, it sometimes leaves you frustrated and angry due to a number of factors. These factors aren't necessarily the developer's fault, but rather the community and the people we regulars call "casuals".
Having a lot of people play on your favorite game is a good thing. It allows for a lot of diversity and creates a different atmosphere in every game session. But casuals are the sickness that plagues this game. People who buy squad often don't read enough into it and are expecting a run and gun type game where they can hop on for 10-20 minutes, kill some people and log off. This isn't the case, though. Good squad leaders meticulously plan each game and hold their squad members to account for mature behavior and willingness to follow orders. Following orders in Squad will decide if your team wins or loses the game. By not working together, everything falls apart and that front-line your team has been holding for the last 30 minutes will fall apart all because the medic on your team would rather wander away and fight rather than heal those actively engaged on the battle lines.
This makes everyone frustrated.
Arrogant Squad Leaders
Squad leading is the glue that holds this game together. New players want to be taught how to play the game and have someone guide them through the experience. Squad leaders who hop in right off the bat are often ineffective and end up costing their team a win due to their unwillingness to listen.
If you have a desire to SL but don't know how, that's perfectly okay. People with experience will be happy to teach you and ensure that you join the ranks of the best. But when you hop in and refuse to soak in feedback and advice, your ruining the game for everyone around you. People in Squad remember their good SLs. When they see you on their server they will viciously fight to get in with you. But if you were awful and didn't communicate or didn't listen, people will remember that even more so and might refuse to play with you again.
Squad's development team is quite small in relevance to the size of their game. Updates come out irregularly and release all depends on how large the module their working on is. I'm not saying the development team sucks, nor am I saying I'm dissatisfied with the game. All I'm saying is that if you're expecting huge weekly updates then you will be disappointed. What you must remember is that the team is working day in and day out to bring you the best gaming experience possible.
That's all we can really ask for as consumers.
Squad is an excellent game. The adrenaline and comradery that one experiences through each playthrough is something that money often can not buy. But in this case, it can. Squad allows even the most introverted people to meet long lasting friends and engage with a community that is friendly and inviting. The gunplay and graphics are spot on and the developers should be commended for their continued hard work and dedication towards the game.
Sure, Squad has its flaws. But it's nothing that can't be fixed with a little support from both the community and the developers. All Early Access titles have flaws.
Leave me a comment with your thoughts and feedback.
I hope to see you in-game.
ClinkinCups, signing off.