Armored Warfare

That Armored Warfare exists is not, in itself, surprising. Eventually, the success of  World of Tanks was going to attract imitations the free-to-play tactical vehicle shooter is a genre in its own right now, much as the modern military shooter became one in the aftermath of the first Modern Warfare.

What’s surprising about Armored Warfare, for me, is that it’s being developed by Obsidian a company I associate with intelligent-but-flawed RPGs like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II and Fallout: New Vegas. While part of Obsidian works on classic Kickstarter RPG Pillars of Eternity, and another part develops publisher-funded licensed games like South Park: The Stick of Truth, a third and increasingly large part of the studio has been working on a free-to-play shooter.

This is a departure in terms of genre, but not in terms of personnel: Armored Warfare’s lead designer, Matt Festa, was hired originally to work on the  Aliens RPG that Sega cancelled in favour of Gearbox’s disastrous FPS Aliens: Colonial Marines. “This is modern independent game development,” he says. “We’re looking at the areas where we have strengths. Two of those projects are going to be  our  IP, and the idea is that they fund the next venture we do internally. That’s going to put us in a position to do the things that we, as a company, want to do. All of the crazy ideas that Obsidian wants to make we’re going to be in a position to do those things. For me, that’s the most exciting part of all this.”
This is primarily a multiplayer game: don't expect to be romancing a T-92 any time soon
Armored Warfare is set in the modern day, but its UI takes after World of Tanks. That said, there’s more focus on vehicular diversity you can play as anything from  a main battle tank to a nimble armoured car and on co-operative missions. These take the form of strikes on relatively open maps, where the placement of objectives, composition of enemies and provision of secondary goals is randomised. When  I played, we raced to take down ammo dumps and SAM sites under fire from Russian tanks. My Wiesel AFV had to stay behind cover to avoid getting one shotted, but I made myself useful by scouting for my heavier-armed allies.

Obsidian’s roots in RPG design emerge in the form of sponsors that assign you each mission. These are characters with personalities, and their relationships with one another and with you form the basis of the narrative. Nonetheless, this is primarily a multiplayer game: don’t expect to be romancing a T-92 any time soon.

I’m keen to check out Armored Warfare in more detail one short session was enough to convince me of the viability of the game’s co-op design, but not much else and I’m excited about what it represents for Obsidian. A free-to-play tank game  that funds the next generation of great RPGs? It’s hard to be cynical about that.

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