Review: Medal of Honor - Warfighter (MP)

Medal of Honor: Warfighter is very solid multi-player game for the money and genre, but with the lack of community I cannot in good faith recommend it.  If you and a few buddies pick it up, you'll probably have some fun - the maps are fairly well-designed, the meta is deep enough to compel without requiring a huge amount of effort to get the most from it, and the shooting mechanics and engine are bang-on, with the one big mark against it being very generic and uninspired game modes.  It's a pity the community is pretty much non-existent.
Review: Medal of Honor - Warfighter (MP)
Date published: Apr 15, 2015
2 / 3 stars

Medal of Honor: Warfighter  is the latest installment in the Medal of Honor series of first-person modern military shooters, developed by Danger Close Games and published by Electronic Arts. So yeah, this being a multi-player review of a modern military shooter, yes, this review is going to be shorter, since they all follow fairly close to formula, and are notable in how they differ.  To its credit, however, Warfighter does have some pretty interesting ideas.

The central shooting mechanics are tight and on-point,
with a variety of classes and weapons available through the meta

I suppose I've said this enough times to sound like a broken record, but at the end of the day, there's one thing that a modern military shooter has to do right, and that's the shooting, and Warfighter has it down pat, mostly due to the Frostbyte 2 engine it shares with Battlefield 3.  Indeed those familiar with Battlefield 3 will be somewhat at home off the bat so to speak with Medal of Honor: Warfighter, so this review will be focusing on how it's different from Battlefield.

The big thing here compared to Battlefield 3 is, as in the single-player, the fact that the destructible terrain features left and center in the actual mechanics of the maps and game itself rather than being mostly eye-candy as it was in Battlefield 3.  It also helps give the maps a sense of progression and being worn-torn over long matches, something Battlefield has to "fake" with scripted events and the like, whereas Medal of Honor: Warfighter has quite naturally as the scenery gets chewed up and soft cover becomes scarce.

Map design is a strong point in the MOH:W multi-player

While there isn't perhaps as many as I'd like to have in the game, there's enough maps for variety and they are all fairly large and offer plenty of both hard and soft cover to hide behind (though as mentioned the soft cover does get chewed up over a while).  There's assuredly a few better than others and a beach-head sort of one was my personal favourite but they rare pretty varied and have numerous paths through them, which prevents the classic problem of bad map design in having only a couple of choke points or the like.

The thing that stood out for me most here was along with tried-and-true classics such as that beach-head maps, there's some effort to give some different climes and places used as the set dressing for maps, which also helps keep them varied, and they all have some different looks to them; I never found them very samey, which I often do in modern military shooters.  It's not COD:AW where each of the maps is quite unique; the base design philosophy of each of the maps seems the same in terms of pathing and the like, but there is quite some variety in the settings.

A lack of game mode variety dulls the lustre of the good map design

I can see why the game didn't have as much longevity and got some fairly bad reviews as soon as I saw that there wasn't much of a selection at all of game modes.  Whereas COD has a good selection of them, if fairly formulaic ones usually, MOH:W boils down to the same capture the flag sort of mechanics we're all well familiar with at this point.  And that can just kill a game for many people, they enjoy the variety.  Personally, I didn't expect much for the price, but I can honestly say I did expect more than I got here, and the lack of modes is a very fundamental problem here.  I'll leave it at that though, because it's hard to discuss the absence of something beyond banging on.  For some people that lack of variety won't bother them, and I'll happily play the same game mode and/or maps repeatedly if they're good (looking at you, Titanfall campaign maps!) but to suggest there's enough here seems sadly patently false.  Even I felt it was thin, despite my just-stated preferences.

The meta progression finds a good balance of depth versus time to unlock

Here's the clincher really, and why I feel the multi-player of Medal of Honor: Warfighter is a rather large missed opportunity, and it's the meta: a variety of countries' special forces are represented in Warfighter, offering a variety of cosmetics and no doubt favourable representation to gamers of modern military shooters from countries other than the United States.  I for one enjoyed seeing Canada's JTF represented.  There's no real difference between the countries other than cosmetics though, where this could have been a great way to compare the different tactics, weapon loadouts, and technologies used by different militaries at their best.  I can appreciate that is much more difficult to balance successfully, but it would have made the game MUCH more dynamic and interesting.

In either case, the meta progression through these different countries unlocks different classes at different levels, which in turn unlocks different gear.  This is nothing that is objectively better which is a master-stroke in balance, but much like the weapons in PAYDAY 2 simply open up different approaches and play-styles, and you'll find you probably will find one that is comfortable and stick with it, which makes for a nice equilibrium for the shooter.  Imperative to that is making sure it doesn't take too long to get the play-style that suits you, but I found even the starting kit more than adequate and only improved with the unlocks.

But unlocks, that feeds into my one big bugbear with Warfighter -

While the BattleLog implementation is optional per se
and actually much tighter in Warfighter, you need it for the unlocks

I don't think I have words to put to digital paper how annoyed I personally get with Battlelog - it works only half the time, requires you to saddle a browser with a plugin (hopefully one you never actually use and don't care about) and adds a bunch of social features that are A: not necessary, and B: present in Origin and Steam anyways.  So imagine my glee when I saw that it is actually optional to launch the game through Battlelog - and my subsequent frustration that the unlocks for the meta progression seemed to require it, since I got no such unlocks without it.

The Final Word: Neutral - Medal of Honor: Warfighter in its multi-player has some really good ideas, decent map design, and a well-crafted meta that suffers from not fully capitalising on those ideas with that meta, and a pretty much dead as a door-knob community.  On the latter alone I  couldn't recommend it in good faith, but I will say it’s worth a look at the least, if you can round up some friends to play.  Don’t get MOH:W for the multi-player, that said.