Down and Dirty with Splash Damage’s Dirty Bomb – Preview
Too Fast Too Dirty
Renowned for titles such as Enemy Territory and Brink, Splash Damage returns with another shot at the first person shooter genre with Dirty Bomb – previously known as Extraction. Taking a different route this time by utilising a free-to-play module, we have a look at the closed beta for Dirty Bomb and how it focuses on competitive team play and momentum.
London has been attacked by well… a Dirty Bomb and has left the city in shambles. Mercenaries have dropped in to steal things (as well as create havoc) and so you have joined the situation to take some cash for yourself. This pretty much sets up the tone of the game which is not much but hey at least we know what they’re doing to an extent.
Dirty Bomb is a multiplayer-only affair and from the first few rounds of the game, I really started to get the Enemy Territory vibe. The game is very teamwork heavy and requires some sort of planning if you’re going to win. Even though I was playing with strangers (mostly Russians) – we all knew the focus is on teamwork and that made playing the objective easier. In the closed beta, we have been given access to two modes – Objective & Stopwatch.
In Objective, one team has to complete a set of objectives while the other has to stop them in a timed round. Objectives range from taking a parcel from point A to point B, to defending an automatic tank called EV. Stopwatch is similar. Instead of having an offensive and defensive team, both teams must race against each other to complete the set objectives. The game modes don’t really present anything particularly new to the shooter landscape, however, it does the job and with its prime focus on teamwork winning rounds felt much more satisfying than any other recent shooter I’ve played.
Dirty Bomb is a fast game and if you’re looking to lay back and enjoy a few sips from your cuppa while head-shotting enemies then this is definitely not the game for you. It’s almost on par with the movement of Titanfall but without the extensive amount of parkour. You can flick yourself off walls and perform double jumps but don’t expect to scale up the roof of a map. It took me a few matches to get back into the groove of twitch shooters but after I found that momentum it was easy to pick up the flow of the rounds and the game itself.
The Mercs (or Characters) in Dirty Bomb are where the game features more diversity. There’s 10 different mercenaries to choose from but this is also where the free-to-play element of the game comes into effect. Working similarly to other games like League of Legends, you’ll have to purchase each character separately either using real cash or the in-game credits you earn from completing matches. It’s a long grind to get credits to buy new Mercs but it’s doable like any other free to play game the more time you put into it. There’s also a timed roster of characters that you can try out which is great if you’re new to the game and/or simply want to get a feel for other Mercs before you purchase them.
Each Mercenary also has their own unique signature move(s) that adds an extra element to the gameplay to keep things interesting. For example, the Russian mercenary Nader packs a lot of punch with her signature automatic grenade launcher that takes out enemies with a single shot, whereas Skyhammer – the assault class Merc – has the ability to drop airstrikes on his enemies. Each Merc is unique and brings a solid amount of variation to the foundation of the game.
You can also spend your hard earned credits on new loadout cards via cases you can purchase in the store. It seems like there’s more things you can purchase from the store in the future but the Closed Beta currently only has cases full of these cards. Loadout cards pretty much grants your character variations in weapon setup compared to the default character loadout. The cards range from common to rare with the latter granting your character very unique primary and secondary weapons.
Looking at the finer points of Dirty Bomb, the game feels very fine tuned at this stage which is great for competitive-style players. Bullets seem to register well and I’ve never really found any problem with lag even though I’m playing with international players. The only problem I’ve found so far with Dirty Bomb is the actual lack of players. The Closed Beta period is probably the case here but I wouldn’t mind playing with more local, Australian players so I can get the feel of the game against lower ping opponents.
Dirty Bomb has been quite the surprise for me as I initially rolled my eyes when it was first announced. As a shooter it doesn’t do anything new in a sense as it tries not to re-invent itself, instead going with the ‘what works’ method. The best selling point is the fact that the game feels comparable to titles out there you pay full price for yet the point of entry with Dirty Bomb is free. I haven’t paid a single cent in Dirty Bomb yet and I find the game pretty well balanced throwing aside thoughts of pay-to-win. If you’re a fan of fast-paced twitch shooters and enjoy something with a little more competitive edge – you might want to drop into Dirty Bomb.
You can sign up for the beta here.