Thursday, October 11, 2007

Re-Visiting an Old Friend: Day of Defeat

Back in the days of Counterstrike, when a good friend and I used to cart our computers up to his office at the university so we could play together over their T3 lines, there came along a little mod that didn't receive as much attention as Counterstrike did, but still had a lot of charm, enough so that it was eventually released as its own box set. That mod was called Day of Defeat. I was hooked immediately and it wasn't long before many of my friends followed suit.

DoD took Counterstrike's realism, warped it to fit WWII weapons, created more open and varied maps and really solidified the teamwork aspect of the game. Unfortunately, it has a steep learning curve. It's easy to die. Very easy. And if you aren't familiar with the current map, you can expect to die at pretty much every turn until you learn it. But, the plus side of this barrier to entry is that the players tend to be a lot more mature and team oriented than you find in most FPS games.

But what shines about DoD is the reliance on teamwork. There will never be a single player that can single-handedly win a match for his team. Every map has specific goals, and players will keep respawning until one team or the other accomplishes those goals. The maps are generally complex and have lots of flavor such as mounds of rubble, broken walls and abandoned cars, that not only provide an engaging setting, but that also have an impact on gameplay as well! Bushes, while just simple 2d sprites, do provide a lot of visual cover. DoD is all infantry based, which may annoy those who like the Battlefield type games. But what they do have is done well!

I hadn't played DoD in several years, but my recent foray into Battleground Europe, an online game with a similar WWII theme, made me remember the good old days. So I reinstalled Steam, updated
the client and logged in. The years have not been kind to my twitch reflexes, but it's still as much fun as it used to be. The only real downside is a lack of players. Many of the servers that are around these days seem to like to fill empty player slots with bots. And while they do decrease the empty fort feeling, it's still a very hollow experience. Luckily, there are other servers that don't use bots at all and also have an active population.

DoD has what Battleground Europe lacks... and mainly, thats the fun factor. I think that BE goes a bit over the edge in realism which cuts into the fun of playing a game. If someone could come up with a decent mashup of the systems in DoD, Battlefield and Battleground Europe (and maybe some Planetside), we could have a really awesome WWII MMO! Take the fun and the infantry/town combat from DoD, add in vehicles from Battlefield and Battleground Europe, then layer it all with an interesting, intuitive, dynamic meta-game that is designed well enough to handle widely varying population numbers and maybe throw in a little bit of character development. Stir gently and enjoy!

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