Splash Damage, developers of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Brink, and Batman: Arkham Origins multiplayer, released a new first person shooter called Dirty Bomb. Splash Damage took its experience with FPS games and teamed up with Nexon to create this free to play game.
Instead of going for a new gameplay style, Dirty Bomb is a throwback to run-and-gun shooters where you fire from the hip and use the keyboard to strafe and jump, and use the mouse to aim. It’s a strange transition if you’ve been playing console games for years and go back to the mouse and keyboard.
Back to basics
The core of Dirty Bomb features five versus five or eight versus eight matches. Currently the game has two modes: Stopwatch and Objective. Stopwatch is a timed objective mode where one team has to complete objectives before the timer runs out, Objective mode gives you different tasks to complete, like escorting a vehicle, while the other team tries to destroy it. Even with these two modes, the gameplay is all about killing the other team as quickly and frequently as possible.
The main gameplay rule that Dirty Bomb promotes is “DON’T BE A DICK.” This means that teams need to work together to win. Playing the lone wolf will result in you dying a lot because you need the entire team to work together.
Mercs defined by cards
There are different characters (Mercs) available, each designed after a specific class. Similar to other FPS games, there are assault, support, medic, and sniper classes. Each character has different secondary attacks that uses a cooldown. For assault classes, you can have a deployable turret and support can call for an airstrike. It all depends on the specific character that you choose.
You can’t customize the Merc loadout. Instead you earn different character cards with different loadouts. These can be bought using in-game currency or real money transactions andthis makes Dirty Bomb a little frustrating. You can’t choose your preferred loadout until you get that specific card for that specific character. There are also Equipment Cases that contain different loadouts.
During gameplay, you can choose three different characters that you can switch between when you respawn. This makes matches a lot more unpredictable. Depending on how well a team works together, you can use an entire team of assault characters to try and rush an objective. It’s an interesting mechanic that will benefit teams who play together.
Shooting is satisfying, running to objectives is boring
Splash Damage’s demo was a preview of Stopwatch on the Terminal level. The first objective was to destroy a wall with C4 and the second was to destroy two subway cars all with a countdown. The map did have multiple pathways in each objective area, but there were a lot of choke points that gave either side an annoying advantage.
Dirty Bomb’s gameplay is quick, sometimes even fast. But that’s only when you’re in combat. There is a lot of downtime waiting to respawn or running to an objective. The shooter part of Dirty Bomb is great. It requires reflexes meaning strafing and jumping while keeping aim at the enemy. The secondary weapons are fun to use, though it’s easy to find exploits for specific weapons like the turret. I liked the support class’ airstrikes because when aimed well, it can almost take out an entire team.
What slows down Dirty Bomb was the actual movement. It’s not as noticeable when you’re shooting, but moving back from a spawn point is excruciating. There’s a general run and then there’s a sprint button. Why not have characters sprint all the time?
The first match was very much figuring out the controls and exploring the map. The second match was better because everyone had an idea of the objectives and different lanes the other team could use. I enjoyed attacking and defending these different objectives, but I don’t know if I would have actually sought out Dirty Bomb as a new game.
Good, but not compelling
Dirty Bomb’s core gameplay is good. It’s got quick action and a lot of replayability but it’s focused only on the PC FPS player. Since it’s free, there’s little to lose other than your time. Right now it’s a little limited in variety other than the different Mercs and loadouts you can earn. Splash Damage is going to listened to the community as it continues work on Dirty Bomb but there’s a lot more it could add right now. If you’re looking for a quick FPS game, it’s one to try.
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