Prepare to Die in Rising Storm 2: Vietnam's Utterly Nuts Beta
I'm in a helicopter on a machine gun. The pilot is screaming incoherently because he has no idea how to fly. I see buildings and figures below, and assume I should be shooting at them. Hopefully they're the bad guys, because I just went to town on that village at a rate of about a hundred bullets a second.
In the event those were our guys or even just innocent civilians, the day is officially saved when we crash land in the jungle. Miraculously, I survive... for about 5 seconds, when I'm cut down by a Vietnamese soldier who was waiting for me to jump out of the wreckage.
That was my official introduction to Rising Storm 2: Vietnam. The tutorial videos aren't active yet, so I figured I'd just jump on an ongoing game and see what happened. The next two hours were some of the wildest of my life outside of a GTA Online server.
After the helicopter debacle, next I spawn next to our team leader...and get cut down in about 3 seconds because he's run into a kill zone. Hmm, maybe I'll pick a different spawn location next time.
U.S. soldiers have the option to spawn at the team leader or instead at advance bases farther back, while the Viet Cong place tunnels to spawn on. There's a lot to learn here, and a whole lot of dying to do along the way.
Realistic Historical Warfare
Normally I'm not a huge fan of the "realistic" war shooters like Arma, Squad, or Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. I get the appeal in theory, but in practice they seem more like exercises in frustration than anything legitimate fun. I always end up dying before I even see or hear an enemy soldier, and after a couple of dozen times of that happening the appeal diminishes (surprise, surprise, I don't dig Dark Souls either).
However, this iteration does a better job of appealing to both player bases. It took a lot of work, but eventually I got to a point where I could hold my own and not immediately die.
For about the first hour, I mostly just stayed a bit behind the rest of the players and waited for them to get cut down so I knew where the enemy was. Brutal? Yep. Treasonous? Maybe. Effective? Absolutely.
Running with wild abandon through the jungle, it dawns on me that I'm spraying gunfire all over the place while the guys calmly standing still seem to take me down in a single trigger pull. Suddenly I realize running drains stamina and low stamina means low accuracy.
When my kill counter on the scoreboard finally went from "0" to "1" I nearly stood up and cheered.
Mass Combat Hysteria
In what used to be very rare, but is now becoming typical of the style, you can have a huge number of players (up to 64) all engaged in active warfare against each other at once. There's a ton going on in any given map, and the objectives of taking and holding different locations keeps me plenty busy while trying to figure out how my current loadout works.
While waiting to re-spawn after getting torched by a flamethrower, I notice for the first time that our squad is apparently named “We Touch Kiddies.” Can't say I'm thrilled about that -- but other than the kiddie diddling thing, these dudes seem like a bunch of decent guys. That is, except for our squad leader who (like most of us in the beta) apparently has no idea how to play the game.
It wouldn't be that big a deal for the average grunt, but he's got our ability to call down artillery strikes -- and he keeps failing to use it, so we're getting torn to pieces. Everyone on the squad is bugging him on chat to either get with the program out drop out of the team leader role. We're in for a fun surprise next -- he doesn't speak English and has no idea what we're all yelling at him. This isn't going well.
Rising Storm 2 Gameplay
Trying out different loadouts as we switch maps, there's actually some key differences between the classes, and some big differences between the classes on the U.S. and Vietnamese side. But at this point in the game's development, you've got to figure out how to work them through trial and error.
Since much of the defensive Viet Cong side is based on tight tunnels and holding locations rather than taking them, some of their classes have abilities like setting traps. This is pretty much useless in the jungle or wide open hillsides (unless you can funnel enemies a certain direction), but in trenched areas, these are your best friend.
Extra elements like suppression -- which cause negative effects until you crouch and get to safety -- offer a little something outside the norm, and there's an astonishing 80+ achievements to earn.
The maps themselves are spacious, and you'll never run out of interesting locations to discover (and brutalize). Each map has an A, B, C, D, E, and F location that will keep you frantically running from one area to another, then digging in to hold the line and praying to the war gods that you don't hear the whir of a helicopter machine gun.
Setting it apart from a lot of the competition, the map layouts and lush graphics are more pleasing than the typically dull maps of other realistic war simulators.
The Bottom Line
It's a familiar style that focuses on cooperation aspects, but I'm actually digging Rising Storm 2's take on the genre more than competitors like Squad. The varied maps are a ton of fun, the different classes offer lots of different ways to play, and switching back and forth from ground to air combat adds a lot to the overall experience.
In just one map, I managed to die by grenade in a labyrinth of trenches, get torn to pieces in the jungle because I was running rather than crouching, be burned alive in an underground cave complex, die by artillery strike on a blasted hill covered in dead trees, and take a bullet to the head courtesy of an enemy sniper when I popped out of cover inside a thatch house. But somehow, I also managed to have an incredibly entertaining time doing it.