Day of Defeat: Source is coming up on its first birthday later this summer, and to mark the milestone for its popular multiplayer first-person shooter set in World War II, Valve is prepared to release a new map pack that introduces new missions and a new detonation mode. We got a sneak peak at the action firsthand to see what it's all about.
Based on the same engine that powers Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike Source, Day of Defeat: Source is the updated version of Day of Defeat, one of the most popular modifications for the original Half-Life. In Day of Defeat: Source, two teams play as the Americans and the Germans as they battle among the towns and villages of Western Europe during World War II. Each side has a number of classes, and each class is armed with a specific weapon. Riflemen get a rifle, which is powerful and accurate but slow-firing. Assault carries a submachine gun, which fires quickly, but has terrible accuracy. The rest is fairly basic: snipers get a sniper rifle, antitank carry a bazooka, the machine gunner carries a light machine gun, and so on.
What makes Day of Defeat: Source different from, say, Call of Duty 2 is the game's brutally fast-paced nature. It's easy to die in this game, and it often feels like one shot can put you down, whereas in most multiplayer shooters you have a decent-sized health bar that lets you absorb a few hits before you die, or they feature health packs that instantly restore you to full health. Not so in Day of Defeat: Source. When you die (and you'll die a lot), you'll just wait for the next respawn (usually spaced 15 seconds apart) and jump back in the action. This makes the action in Day of Defeat very fast and very brutal.
The new detonation mode should certainly add to the chaos. In traditional Day of Defeat, your goal is to seize a number of flags or objectives on the map, but in detonation mode, you must destroy enemy assets while protecting your own. Basically, each side usually has a couple of key assets on the map, such as a tank or an antiaircraft gun. In the middle of the map are explosive charges, which can be picked up by anyone. In order to win, you must destroy the enemy's assets, and each one requires two explosive charges. The trick is that you can't place both charges at once, but rather you must place and explode one, and then the other. If the enemy should reach the explosives in time, they can defuse the bomb, so you must stick around and make sure to defend the area until the (very slow) timer ticks down to zero. Sounds simple, but as we discovered, it's not. As we found when playing the game, this mode can be like a seesaw, with momentum shifting between one team and the other. It can get really difficult to plant the last explosive needed to win the match, since the other team usually hunkers down around the objective and makes any kind of progress costly.
While the action in the game may seem too fast-paced for any kind of strategy, Day of Defeat is all about teamwork. Machine gunners can set up a defensive position and mow down anyone who comes into view. Assault troops can toss smoke grenades to provide cover, or frag grenades to clear out defensive positions. Snipers can pick off the stragglers, while bazookas can clear out the room of a building. Even the respawn timer can become a factor, as you can prepare for oncoming waves of enemy troops fresh from the respawn point.
The four new maps in the map pack certainly feel like variations on the Day of Defeat theme, as they seem somewhat similar to the existing levels. Prepare for more highly interconnected levels, filled with narrow streets, alleyways, choke points, and plenty of houses to battle room to room in. Detonation mode is available in two of the missions, but there are another two that feature more of the traditional Day of Defeat-style game mode.
In addition to detonation and the new maps, the map pack will introduce a number of enhancements to the game. A new "film grain" effect adds a 1940s-style graininess to the camera when you're dead, so you can watch the action like it's a documentary. New shaders provide better lighting, and better color correction is also at work. The improvements aren't just cosmetic, either, as there is improved weapon balancing and hit detection, as well as a myriad of other tiny adjustments. The Day of Defeat: Source map pack is scheduled to be available on Steam, Valve's proprietary download service, on Wednesday, June 28. It's free to existing owners of Day of Defeat: Source.