While Far Cry 2 boasted a long and varied single-player campaign, its multiplayer didn't really manage to compete in a post-Modern Warfare world. For Far Cry 3, a separate team at Ubisoft Massive is hoping to create a multiplayer experience that can compete with the shooting genre's heavy hitters, as well as carve a niche of its own. We were lucky enough to get to play the game at a recent preview event to find out how it's shaping up.
The first mode we got to play was Domination, a first-person shooter staple that should be instantly familiar to anyone who has played an online shooter. The map featured in this mode was called Sub-Pen--a small village made up of corrugated iron huts that surrounded a battered submarine pen. Raised areas offered sniping spots to fire at those capturing points, while zip lines allowed you to move quickly through the map while firing a handgun--which was not only a lot quicker, but way more badass.
As we quickly discovered, teamwork is vital in Far Cry 3's multiplayer. Whereas other shooters usually restrict medic abilities to those in specific classes, anyone in Far Cry 3 can revive their fallen comrades. If you're the person who has been downed, you can tap a button to keep yourself alive until someone hopefully rescues you--if not, you bleed out and are respawned after a short wait.
Then there's the new Battle Cry feature, which allows you to give a rallying cry that buffs up teammates around you. These perks vary depending on the class you're playing as, but they can increase the speed, accuracy, or health of those around you, which is useful for when you're all trying to capture a node.
Tagging is another feature based around working together. Whenever you tag enemies, fallen teammates or strategic points, you earn team support points that can be redeemed against bonuses. These include a scout that reveals enemy positions, and psyche gas, which blurs your opponent's vision and turns all other players into dark demonic figures. The inability to tell friend from foe is worsened by the fact that friendly fire is temporarily activated, meaning it's easy to kill a teammate in the chaos. If you do shoot at the wrong person, not only do you risk killing them, but you'll also be stripped of your own team support points as a result.
One of our favourite features was the animation at the end of each game. The top scorer on the winning team is given a choice--either to punish the highest-scoring member of the losing team, or to show them mercy. Choose punishment, and the loser is punched repeatedly in the face; choose mercy, and they are cut free and let go. Ubisoft Massive promises a mix of animation movies in the finished game to add a bit of variety.
The second game mode we got to play was called Firestorm, where you have to ignite an enemy fuel dump while defending your own. Each team has two supply points to protect, and teams need to work together to ignite both of the enemy's oil drums in quick succession. The Firestorm map we played took the form of a temple ruins, with oil dumps littered around an ancient ruined structure.
Getting to the depots and knifing the barrels released fuel that was then set on fire to cut off a good chunk of the map. At this point, the objective changes--a radio antenna is activated at the centre of the temple, and the attacking team races in to call in air support. If the defending team manages to hold control of this location, the fires are extinguished and the process starts again. However, if the attacking team holds it, they call in air support, and a plane flies in to add more fuel to the fire, setting the whole map ablaze and winning the game in the process.
Our preview session gave us a good taste of both Far Cry 3's standard multiplayer game mode and the more unique fire-based mode. We're also promised an improved level editor, as well as mobile apps that will allow you to unlock new weapons while you're away from the game. We had a great time playing Far Cry 3 in multiplayer, and thankfully we don't have too much longer to wait for the finished game, which is out on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 in September. In the meantime, keep it locked on GameSpot for more on the game as we get it.