For the past few weeks I’ve been playing the closed beta of a free to play game called Dirty Bomb. The developer, is also the same developer brought you games like BRINK and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, and also took part in helping develop the multiplayer facet of games like Batman: Arkham Origins, and Doom 3. As somebody who loves being introduced to new and innovative shooters, I had seen there was a closed beta and I jumped at the opportunity to get a piece of the action.
The first closed beta weekend was a bit slow to get started. The game disconnected from the server a few times for me, and had some servers that were fairly empty. Once it got going it was loads of fun, despite these small problems at first. There was a surprising amount of stability in the graphics engine for a game so new to beta. The game runs quite smooth and I experienced almost no frame-rate drops.
Characters and Classes:
The basic starting classes consisted of Aura (a medic), Skyhammer (an assault type character), and Proxy (a engineer type class). Compared to other class-based shooters like Team Fortress 2, for example, the class system is unique. Each character typically has two abilities, and can use those for the benefit of the team. Each class specializes in a certain task. Different objectives require different classes. What stands out though, is the very unique ability sets. They offer a much different approach to the standard class set.
Aura has a Healing Station, which when deployed places a close-proximity healing field for all the team members in the field. She is also equipped with a Defibrillator which can be used in place of the [albeit slow] revive. The standard revive takes quite a bit more time for other players, so having that defibrillator is very handy. Her standard loadout is a shotgun and a pistol. Many players had complained about Aura, as she has a fairly high damage rate with her shotgun, and I can see how that might need some ironing out. As a starting loadout, it’s fairly bad at long-range combat, so she is almost useless unless the enemy is a few feet away. Compared to other games like Team Fortress 2, her offense is slightly higher, but at the cost of losing the ability to support your team. Her healing station is a deployable that you must retrieve or it might get shot, so it proves to be a problem if you lose it. It can heal you as well, so in a firefight, it’s wise to stick near to it. If on the off chance you need long range using her standard loadout, the pistol can shoot a few more feet than the shotgun, but does an extremely limited amount of damage. On the other hand, if you can learn to effectively use the other class’s abilities, Aura really isn’t any more of a problem than any of the other characters.
Skyhammer is what you would equate to the standard “assault” character. He has ammo packs he can place down for the team or throw directly to teammates to give them supplies, as well as a directed air-strike. He is equipped with an assault rifle and a heavy pistol. A lot of players chose him for his air strike ability that is directed by a flare which paints a target in a line. If you happen to be close to that line and don’t see the flare, you are most likely doomed. His air-strike ability had a particularly long cooldown, so often you would see teams who co-ordinated well throwing air-strike after air-strike after air-strike. Teams would seem to rely on the air strike during missions that involved defending or repairing a vehicle. It is not hard to see if you are looking at the ground, but it detonates super quick, so unless you are looking for the marker, you probably won’t see it quick enough. If the airstrike is under a building, the flare becomes a grenade and only takes half the normal cooldown time. While all this wasn’t necessarily a problem, it definitely seemed to need a bit of tweaking.
Proxy has proximity mines which detonate after being walked on or near. She does not have a secondary ability, but instead has a semi-auto shotgun similar in power to Aura’s, and a heavy pistol.
Proxy was probably one of my least favorite to go up against. Her proximity mines did quite a bit of damage, and if you had be even moderately wounded, you were sure to be done for.
Each character also has unlockable “Loadout Cards” which allow you to equip different weapons and more fine-tuned abilities. I didn’t have a lot of them, nor did I do much in the way of changing the loadout, as I also had noticed not many other players bothered themselves. Quite a few players complained about the rate at which it took to unlock a new character. After every match, depending on whether you hit a certain goal that was set for you at the time, and how well you did during the match, you would be awarded an allotment of points, used to purchase new characters. It took me quite some time to finish these “challenges” as they usually either involved winning/partaking in certain match types for a certain count, doing a certain task for a set count, or using a certain character in a match for a certain number of matches. Ultimately, I can safely say it wasn’t overkill though, as this is a free-to-play game, and I honestly found it more fun to try the different classes and abilities out to try to achieve a goal.
As for overall thoughts on the game, I think when it finally is open beta or in a state for release, I am sure it will bring some of the most exciting matches you could imagine. Even during closed beta, I found it hard to keep up sometimes, as it is an extremely fast game. If you don’t have fast reflexes, this is not the game for you. If you enjoy a good skill-based shooter that diverts from the standard of today’s “modern shooter” I highly recommend you sign up for the beta. If you want a good look at how the game looks, take a look at the first launch intro below, which might hold interesting surprises: