It is a law that all first-person shooters must have a multiplayer element. Granted, that might not exactly hold up in court, but it feels like it is a law nonetheless as it is more or less expected that upcoming major releases offer some form of online component to increase the value. And why not–who doesn’t want more bang for their buck? Homefront is no exception, and judging by what they have shown, the online play may be good enough to overshadow the much hyped single player campaign.
The multiplayer plays like Call of Duty—exactly like Call of Duty. The controls are identical, and that is neither a bad thing, nor is it a defining trait. The Call of Duty control scheme is well honed and has been refined for several years, so it makes sense that other games would emulate it, and Homefront is far from alone in that regard. But the online game itself almost plays more like Battlefield: Bad Company 2, with objectives that when reached expand the map rather than end the game.
The loadout screens will be familiar to all Call of Duty fans, and you are given your choice of options based on the level you have reached. There are a wide selection of weapons and perks, and each player can choose their own killstreak, which leads to the biggest departure from Call of Duty (or any online shooter) and a feature that will likely define Homefront.
When you accomplish something in a game, whether it be killing an opponent, or capturing an objective, you will earn points. Part of those points are experience, but part are for in-game purchases based on your load out. If you have an RPG selected, you can only use it when you have done enough to earn the necessary points. With each new goal achieved and the subsequent points earned, you will earn ammo for it as well, or you can use those points to activate your other perks, which could be anything from body armor to a UAV to an airstrike.
The points can also be saved up and used before you respawn to purchase vehicles—and the vehicle selection is based on your level of experience. It is an interesting idea that could conceivably make every single game feel fresh and unique.
There is also the killstreak system, with offers five levels of unlockable killstreaks, but there is a catch. The more enemies you kill without dying, the more attention you will draw to yourself. It is somewhat similar to the Grand Theft Auto stars, and as you rack up the kills without dying, enemies are notified of your success and given a heads-up on where you are, as well as a reward for your defeat.
The gameplay is familiar—in a good way—but the amount of in-game options based on your play could help Homefront be a “must-have” for online shooter fans. Look for more details when Homefront is released for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on March 15.