Crytek's near-future military shooter for the PC, Warface, is currently live in Russia, with a closed beta in China. But the game plays differently in both regions.
Localisation is not an unfamiliar concept. At its most basic that means the interface and dialogue/speech have to be translated so players understand what's going on. But the process is much more complex than that. Developers Crytek use their publishers' resources to gauge what players in each region want from a free-to-play shooter.
In Russia, the players are much more "hardcore," the art director tells me. They're forgiving. And they expect a higher level of difficulty. They don't mind if the recoil on their shotgun is particularly brutal. They don't need obvious reticle visuals to relay how much damage they're doing to their enemies. They want a realistic experience.
"Does that leniency make making the game more fun?" I ask the developers. "Oh, yeah. I enjoy the Russian market. They will survive anything. And [as Russian developers] we can communicate with them."
Warface is a free-to-play model, but you can purchase in-game items and upgrades. How this will work in North America is yet to be determined. "In China it's OK to pay for the advantage. But in Russia, they won't play that kind of game." So in Russia the paid upgrades are more for comfort than advantage, and the economic model of the game is modelled after that local preference.
The upgrades and purchases are three-fold. Some can be purchased with in-game currency. Some can be purchased with real-life money, and others are purchased with crown currency. You gather crown points by stacking your team's score against other teams on the leaderboards. The best items in the game's vendors can only be unlocked with this kind of currency, which you can collect through either PvE missions or PvP missions.
Crytek releases new missions every day. So there will always be a new experience to shoot through to rack up crowns. The crown-purchased weapons and armour are easily identifiable in rounds of the multiplayer game, too. The tiger-print, golden skin gives away the most successful players in each battle.
The heavy focus on team work is the exact kind of first-person shooter I enjoy. Though some players may make the experience infuriating (read: troll players), good teammates can make for an excellent mission sequence.
I played through both PvE and PvP maps -- which range from easy to insanely difficult (the most difficult map has a 7% success rate in Russia right now) -- as an engineer. Though I love the sniper class, I needed to get my hands on claymores and I figured an excess of ammunition packages would come in handy. Teamplay, again, is important in Warface.
Crytek designed PvE maps to ensure you're helping your team by flanking certain enemies. The first obstacle I encountered was a sniper blinding me with the red targeting laser. While my teammates grabbed their attention with bullets, I flanked to the left and took every single one of them out before they even realised I was there. Certain boss enemies need weak spots hit before they will go down. You'll have to play collaboratively to succeed.
PvP felt pretty much like PvP typically feels. We played a round of fast-paced free-for-all. The best part is that at any point in the game you can tilt your weapon to the side and pick additions and upgrades on the fly, a la Crysis. It beats the pants off of sifting through long lists of options.
I'm curious to see what Warface looks like when it finally gets to North America. The game's producer tells me that they'll be focusing on how progression in the game plays out, as well as how the economy of buying in-game items will work. Play testing and ample research will determine what a North American Warface will mean for us.
Though, you can download the game's client right now and play with Russian players if you want to get a taste of the game as it stands. Just be forewarned.