GDC 2012: Hands-on with Crytek’s next offering, the free-to-play (oddly named) title, Warface

One of the most surprising and remarkable trends of this year’s GDC was the emergence of free-to-play games. The trend itself isn’t new, as games like DC Universe and League of Legend (one of the most-played games in the world) have been available for some time now. What is surprising, is the quality. That isn’t meant to take away from a game like League of Legends, which is a beloved game, but taking a remarkable engine like the CryEngine 3 and making a game that costs nothing is fairly incredible.

Although the name may not exactly stand up and scream “cool,” there is no doubt that Warface will make up in play what it lacks in an impressive title.

Warface, is a free-to-play first-person shooter from Crytek, the makers of Crysis and the original Far Cry, that was originally introduced back in 2010. Crytek is even calling it a “AAA freemium” title. At the time, the “free-to-play” tag was almost a stigma that relegated the game to the far reaches of the upcoming games lists. Crytek even had trouble finding publishers to release it—and even now, the game has only been confirmed for a few Asian markets (although that will likely change, and soon).

The game features PVP play, as well as a five-person co-op PVE, which will offer several different maps and missions that constantly change. In fact, Crytek has promised to continually refresh the game with daily updates including new missions, so every time you play, you may be playing a scenario that is totally different.

The game will feature four classes to choose from: Rifleman, Engineer, Medic, and Sniper. Each has a specific ability, and they feel like they are taken directly from the Battlefield games. In the PVP missions, it will just be a matter of taste, but in the constantly changing co-op missions, teams will need to work together to survive the onslaught of slightly futuristic enemies that include mechs and armored foes.

The gameplay is pure FPS, and specifically feels like a Crytek FPS. There is even the ability to customize weapons on the fly, just like you can do in the Crysis games. If this were a full retail release, I would be criticizing it for feeling not just similar, but identical to several other games; in this case though, that is actually a boon. Anyone with a PC can jump on at any time without paying a dollar, then play the online competitive or co-op for as long as they want, and daily updates to missions will keep them coming back.

The graphics are exactly as impressive as you might imagine thanks to the CryEngine 3, and the game moves at a great clip with a solid 60fps. It is impressive not just for a free game, but for any game.

The game is limited in that it is just PVP and PVE, and while the missions will be updated constantly, there are only a handful of maps that will be available at launch. But considering that it will cost you nothing, it plays smoothly, and it is a beautiful game thanks to one of the best gaming engines in existence, Warface is one of the best value games of the year. No word yet on a Western publisher, but it will be coming this year.

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