Insurgency: Sandstorm

After almost three years, Insurgency: Sandstorm has finally arrived on consoles. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this game since the PS4 version was first announced back in 2018 and although a “dedicated” PS5 version is still in the works, I jumped at the chance to play on console. Let’s dive in to another Chicago Dice Hot Take!

Hot

  • Survival Mode – There are a handful of co-cop modes in the game but Survival is the standout. Survival mode alone was worth the price of admission. With up to eight players, you must fight your way through the map capturing various strongpoints as AI enemies move in to surround and eliminate you and your team. I have yet to win a round of Survival but I keep coming back for more! The game is punishingly difficult and the AI takes no prisoners. Playing as a four-man fireteam with friends has been one of the most fun and intense shooter game modes I’ve played in a long time.
  • Sound Design – I’m not sure how much the sound design team was paid for their work, but whatever it was, double it. The audio production level is insane. The guns, the comms, explosions, the footsteps, the callouts – all top tier. Guns sound different depending on the type of interior space you are standing in! The level of detail and variation is something only previously seen in a Battlefield game.
  • 10v10 PVP – Talk about sweaty. It brings me back to CS and CS:GO days. When playing a PVP match, you have a sense that there are real stakes. The rounds feel important. You don’t want to be the one that lets the squad down. You can feel those eyes on you when you are the last one alive, trying to capture the point that will respawn your team and you are driven to make the play.
  • The Points System – Insurgency uses points for it’s classes. You pick a class and then have 10-15 points to spend on your loadout. You can use these points on weapons, attachments, explosives, gear, armor, etc. It gives plenty of options for how you want to play the game. You can run and gun with an SMG and no armor. Or go the opposite with a shotgun and full heavy armor. The choice is yours and each decision has pros and cons. All your equipment has weight as well. Head into battle with low weight and you’ll be able to cover more ground faster. But, you won’t have that extra smoke or frag grenade. It’s a great balancing act and provides fantastic player choice.

Honorable Mention

  • Cosmetics – Little bit of hot, little bit of not. The style of the cosmetics is perfect for the game. The uniform styles are grounded, mil-sim style, nothing flashy. What I’m trying to say is, the cosmetic options make sense. Now, the bad part – nowhere else does this game show it’s age more than the cosmetics. The characters models are pretty ‘meh’ by 2021 standards. The animations are excellent, but the textures (especially the facial hair) are pretty weak.

Not

  • Stability – I’ve run into my fair share of bugs and glitches. Most of them are silly little things like bodies ragdolling off into the sky or having the kill cam spaz out below the map – no big deal. But when your weapon no longer makes any noise, it’s more than a bit annoying. The much bigger problem is the near constant crashing. The PVP modes seem stable but when playing Survival (our favorite mode) there is a good chance of a hard crash. This combined with the issues with joining on your friends can make for one hell of a frustrating experience.
  • Progression – It’s thin. There are a few classes to unlock as you rank up. But by Rank 20 you’ll have unlocked them all and that’s about it. Your rank will keep increasing but there is nothing further to unlock. It’s a nice change of pace to not have to grind out guns and attachments but spreading out the class progression or rewarding the player with cosmetics as they rank up would have been a nice addition.
  • Tutorials – Simply put, I do not fully understand some of the games systems. There is a brief tutorial that throws a lot of text up on the screen in an attempt to familiarize the player with the controls and quirks of this tactical shooter. It’s not an effective teaching tool. Prepare to die – a lot – as you learn the feel for the game.

The Takeaway

It’s love hate with Insurgency right now. When it works (no bugs or crashes) it’s fantastic. Working together in a fireteam with your buddies during a tense shootout or a mad sprint to extraction is hard to beat. The extremely fast TTK and slow movement force you to consider your path of approach and your next move. One little mistake, and you are done. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. The game is not stable. There have been several patches to address the performance issues but the problems persist. We had Insurgency in heavy rotation for the first couple weeks but the stability problems have forced us to dial back our playtime. It’s just too frustrating getting dropped over and over mid match.

The ground work is all here for a great tactical team shooter. It just needs some more TLC.

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