Homefront: The Revolution – Beta Report
If ever there was a game that didn’t need a sequel it was Homefront. A small time Call of Duty knock-off that never achieved any great highs with gamers or critics, Homefront was quickly forgotten by most who played it. But a sequel is what we are getting and one with quite a troubled development at that. Originally being made under the THQ banner the game was bought by Crytek after that company folded. Crytek then sold the game to Deep Silver and closed the studio creating it when they themselves entered into financial dire straights. Deep Silver opened a new studio called Damnbuster Studios with the express purpose of finishing the game, employing many ex-Crytek developers in the process. So needless to say the game hasn’t had the smoothest development and unfortunately my time with the beta shows it.
Now don’t get me wrong, the gameplay in Homefront is both exciting and unique. The beta allowed me to take part in a mode called Resistance which is a four player co-op experience that had me on the edge of my seat. Only playing on “easy” mode this game was brutal and unforgiving but it never felt unfair. After all I was playing as a guerilla fighter opposing a nightmarish North Korean regime. The game required my team mates and I to proceed through some very open maps to complete various objectives such as hacking satellite relays and assisting other squads under fire. I enjoyed my time immensely hiding from a vastly superior force and using my surrounds to my advantage. Most shooters make me feel like a dominating force to be reckoned with. Homefront: The Revolution however made me feel small and insignificant, someone just trying to do their best in a terrible situation. That change felt refreshing for me and has the potential to make the game stand out from the pack.
But (and it is a big but) there are technical issues galore with the game in its current state. In my time with the game there was huge framerate drops, glitches where my weapon would disappear and graphical breakdowns. Perhaps the most worrying thing that I encountered though was the terrible matchmaking. Simply getting a game was a horrible ordeal. I often gave up after waiting 20 minutes or more for a match. Considering the huge amount of keys out there (one site gave away 30000) it probably wasn’t caused by a lack of players online. A quick search through the game’s forums confirmed my fears with hundreds of users reporting huge problems even getting a game. I get that this is a beta and there is quite sometime until the game is released but I think in this case the bad word of mouth these problems are likely to generate could come back and bite Deep Silver in the backside.
Thankfully the developers were quick to try and alleviate fears in a blog post. “The Closed Beta is a slice of Resistance Mode taken from the game before last Christmas, and was then tested and configured to serve as a first chance to get people to play the mode while we can test as much as possible. That means it’s not representative of the final game, and in fact some things like graphics and animations are already greatly improved in the current state of development for all platforms. Visual polish comes in rather late when the primary focus is on polishing gameplay, and that level of visual polish is not in this Closed Beta.” Said community manager Craig Turner. “This is very much a technical beta more so than a demo using a finished game.”
Regardless I really hope this beta hasn’t damaged Homefront: The Revolution’s chances too much because there is a lot of potential here. When I managed to get a game I had a great time. The shooting felt on point, the maps were open and encouraged exploration and the premise of the game is without doubt interesting. Technical issues are clearly what Damnbuster now needs to be working on before the game’s release in May because if they can get it right there is every chance they could have a sleeper hit on their hands. However if the final product has even a third of the problems I encountered in the beta then the game will no doubt find it’s way into bargain bins of obscurity to be forgotten forever.