We covered Dirty Bomb last week as the title prepared to transition from closed to open Beta. Well, the game is now openly available through Steam, so here are our thoughts on what we’ve played so far.
In-case you missed our last article, Dirty Bomb is a FREE-to-play FPS from Splash Damage. With a heavy emphasis on fast, team-based combat, it’s all or nothing. The game starts with a clear and concise tutorial, covering not only the basics of a first person shooter, but also a quick guide to class specialties and skills such as the medic (Aura) being able to throw down healing stations and quick-revive fallen comrades. Right from the tutorial you can see the production value of the game. It’s so well done, with a witty narrator introducing you to the game.
Once you’re into the game you have the possibility to land in a variety of environments ranging from the classic Underground tube stations to the Aged Chapel, each with their own objectives. My favourite initial map had to be “Bridge” in which your objective when attacking is to repair your mobile vehicle (EV) and escort it to the completion zone. I loved the map’s mix of open areas for sniping, and tight alleys with their sharp corners for the more close-combat mercenaries such as the medic that utilises the shotgun and fast heals to capitalize on the funnel-like corridors.
The game consists of multiple classes known as mercenaries and it’s up to you which you choose to play with. As a new player you’ll have a few standard mercs unlocked, with the others requiring unlocking either through in-game currency or cash; the same system that MOBAs tend to use. At the time of writing each merc costs £7.99 or 50k in-game credits, or you can wait until that merc is in free-rotation to try it out for a limited time. Before each match you’re able to choose 3 to take into battle, and each time you respawn you have the opportunity to change between them, allowing you to respond to battle situations as they arise. Each has their own weapons, perks and loadouts, which are also handled in a unique way.
Loadouts in Dirt Bomb are handled through a card system. It’s really rather nice. Through playing games you unlock in-game currency which can be either spent on mercs or equipment cases. From each case you’ll receive a random loadout card for one of the mercs. This is how you get gear, and the cards come in a range of qualities, ranging from iron (a basic card) to cobalt (an epic card). You don’t unlock weapons, sidearms, and special equipment separately, then build a class, you unlock an entire loadout in a single card! Inevitably you end up with duplicate cards, so you can use them to ‘trade up’ to a card you want. It’s akin to the crafting system in Hearthstone; you use the value of existing cards to create others. So say you want a cobalt loadout for the sniper class, but don’t want to open a boatload of cases to get it. Well you can craft one providing you have enough cards of the right rarity. This is cross-class also, so you could dump all your cards for a certain merc you don’t play to create an epic loadout for one you do!
The developers and trailers all boast that the game is reliant on teamwork, as most FPS titles do, and this is a vital component to Dirty Bomb. Whilst I was able to rush round saving my fellow mercenaries with my speedy revives, when it came to drawn out standoffs with the opposing team I found myself relying heavily on my teammates generosity and their ability to deploy ammo packs as I rapidly fired through my few shotgun pellets and found myself backed into the corner desperately trying to defend objectives with solely my pistol and knife. Whilst this initially seems limiting, it does force team co-operation which led to some intense gameplay as teams set up stations with healers and ammo focused players as they progressed to their objectives. If you don’t play as a team you’re going to lose.
There are currently 2 gamemodes available: Objective and Stopwatch. In objective the goal is to either complete the level objectives, or stop the opposing team from completing them. Each map has different objectives, it isn’t a simple capture the flag deal, so there’s lots of fun and variance in gameplay to be had between maps. The other mode, Stopwatch, is a race to complete the level objectives as fast as you can, then stop the other team beating your time.
The standout factor of Dirty Bomb for me is the speed of combat. As soon as game starts teams pile forward relentlessly towards one another. This relentless back and forth continues throughout the game, and since it doesn’t take much to down you, sticking with your team is vital. If you do try to be a hero … well that won’t happen. You’ll run into a group of the opposition and you’ll be dead before you’ve even thought about shooting. It’s fast-paced, relentless team combat just as they promise.
The game’s art style and models are similar to that of titles such as Warface and Loadout with a detailed cartoonist art style, allowing for immersive gameplay without too much direct realism. Whilst there where minor texture issues, the game was in closed beta during my game time, I found the overall graphics to be fitting for the game style and pleasing to the eye, with the TF2 like animations such as the healing bay and ammo pickups. There is also a good range of options for player to alter their settings allowing those with non-high end rigs to enjoy the title.
The audio for the titles is enjoyable and solid as the rest of the game. In-game sounds are fitting and what you’d expect in any form of shooter, with a clear instructional voice describing the objective on each level.
Overall, after clocking a few hours on the title and ranking up to level 5, I think that Dirty Bomb is a fun and enjoyable F2P game which I can see myself spending around three to four hours on per session, especially if playing with friends as I would want to try and incorporate a full team skill set into some matches. The game feels incredibly solid and polished with an already impressive set of maps and loadouts and will only get better. If you’re into your shooters then this is a must-play.
Check out Dirty Bomb for yourself on Steam http://store.steampowered.com/app/333930/ or on the official site Nexon Site http://dirtybomb.nexon.net/, be sure to let us know what your thoughts are on the title via our comments section below or via social networks!
Tl:dr – Dirty Bomb is a FREE-to-play fast-paced shooter with a heavy emphasis on teamwork. With a unique approach to characters and loadouts, it feels fresh, and although in beta is a very much a solid and high quality game. It will only improve, so if you’re a fan of the genre it’s a must-have.
Rating – 9/10
Purchase – Steam FREE