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Preview: Insurgency (PC)

Insurgency logo
Insurgency logo
Insurgency logo

At a Glance...

Formats: PC, Mac

Posted September 4, 2013 by

Full Fiendish Findings...

Determination counts for a lot in competitive gaming – it can separate the good from the great. However, the determination that can be needed to create a game is less often considered. Showing some of that spirit, New World Interactive have gotten Insurgency to beta on Steam, despite a couple of hurdles on route.

The original Insurgency was released as a mod for Source engine games such as Half-Life 2 back in 2005, where it quickly gained a following among players seeking some intense-if-unforgiving gameplay. A stand alone version went into development, occasionally being referred to as Insurgency 2 (as it was for an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign last year), before arriving at its current state on Steam self-identifying again simply as Insurgency.
Insurgency screen
The game itself is a first person tactical shooter, allowing up to 16vs16 games with teams subdivided into units of four. However, it does not conform to many of the standards used in other modern shooters – health does not regenerate, respawning is largely based on team progress instead of a timer (usually happening when an objective is captured), and the HUD has an absolute minimum of detail. This cannot be emphasised enough – there is no ammo counter, no crosshair and even friendly players (other than immediate teammates) are only identified when directly targeted – something which led to my overly tense trigger finger getting an embarrassing number of teamkills at first.

This is not a game for lone wolves, being tense enough even for players working in a group. Tension is not something expected in modern shooters, but here seems to fit, as all it takes is a moment’s lack of concentration to be picked off – or to provide an obvious target to a sniper in a more open map – and respawning is dependent on the efforts of the team as a whole. Suppressing fire also has an effect here, with a loss of situational awareness (simulated by vision blurring – which may sound minor, but with the minimalist HUD this takes away your most important source of information – sight).
Insurgency screen
As mentioned, there is no ranking system, and as such no level-related unlocked. All weapons and upgrades are obtained in-game as rounds progress – successes earn supply points, which can be used to buy upgrades such as holographic sights or armour-piecing ammunition (and these can also be sold too, if you decide you preferred the cheaper dumdum rounds or flipsights); similarly, regardless of the role you choose your weapon can be swapped out for another, allowing scouts to carry heavy machineguns or assault teams carrying sniper rifles – all depending on how you want to play, and the need of the situation.

As these are all provided per round rather than upgraded between matches, players should find themselves on an even footing, with no one standing accused of obtaining higher kill streaks thanks to gear instead of ability.
Insurgency screen
There are some negatives, however – although as a game in beta these may not automatically be problems for the final release. Most prominently is setting up a new game, which is done through console commands. There are no settings to help create new games and lobbies; and indeed, with the naturally restricted number of people playing during beta you are likely better off seeing which of the existing game servers has the most people playing and joining that, regardless of gametype.

Graphically, the game has a certain functional attractiveness, but cannot claim to be among the prettiest out there – although given its roots in online, competitive team games, having lower specifications is possibly deliberate. There is also the AI… as well as player vs player games, there are co-op game modes vs teams of bots, who it must be said seem to have two approaches – either picking off players from “where are they? I can’t see them – ” distances, or storming the cowering survivors (or, for apparently efficiency, both approaches at once). In most games, playing vs bots feels like practice for taking on other players; strangely, here it feels the other way around.

Early access to Insurgency can be bought right now via Steam; the full, final game is due for release in 2014.


Peter can be described as an old, hairy gamer, a survivor of the console wars of the 1990s, and a part-time MMO addict. He has an especial fondness for retro gaming and observing the progressions in long running gaming series. When scandalously not caught gaming, he can also be found reading comics and fantasy fiction, or practising terrible photography.


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