Team-based, objective-oriented FPS Dirty Bomb is available to anyone who wants to try it out today. Download it on Steam for free, but be warned -- developer Splash Damage has made it clear that this one is not for the noob-hearted.
Yes, "difficult to learn, impossible to master" is the motto of this hardcore shooter. There's no secret being made of the fact that if you're not playing well, and playing as a team, you will lose in a manner befitting a pub scrub.
The open beta begins with a traditional Objective mode, with an attacking and defending team, and Stopwatch mode, in which teams switch side and the victor is decided by who completes the objective the fastest. Note: No Team Deathmatch. I could kiss the devs.
Five maps and twelve mercenaries will also be available from the get go, with a rotating roster deciding which mercs are free.
While the loot depends on a random system of buying cases (similar to Counter-Strike or TF2) and hopefully getting the rarer items within, one thing refreshing element of the loot system is how up-front Splash Damage is being about its drop rates. Anything that has to do with function and gameplay will have a high drop rate, but there's a 0.1% rate on the ultra epic vanity items, and they're not trying to hide it.
This is one of those games I'd love to see lots of people playing, not only because it needs it and deserves it, but because it's kind of heartbreaking to see a well designed game not make it due to player populations. There are so many games out there asking for our time these days.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars wasn't the best thing ever, but it didn't exactly get a fair go, what with being released in the middle of Team Fortress 2, Unreal Tournament 3, and the first CoD: Modern Warfare. That was frankly way too much awesome for one holiday period.
Splash Damage's next FPS, Brink, got even less of a chance at greatness, despite being released at a quieter time.
On the plus side, even in hardcore shooters like this, communities tend to be friendly because everyone realises the playerbase needs to grow. Anyone who was a fan the old Enemy Territory mod should give it a go.
It's for that most special of prices, anyway: Free. Though of course, being founded by ultra-competitive gamers, there's no pay-to-win in this model. Just pay-to-look-cool.
Check it out here.