The theory was that if you make the benefits of going up a level insignificant enough, a low-level agent can still have a badass shoot-out with a high-level agent and you don't have to divide up your players at all. In practice, they've got the worst of both worlds. After level 12 the rewards for levelling up are frequently unsatisfactory for the work you're putting in, and yet a level 30 agent with a collection of upgrades is still going to be able to casually flambé a level 15. The level 15 could attack with the advantage, he could throw grenades in first, it won't make a difference. A +2% here and there adds up over the 20 hours of play separating those two players.
So far, everything I've talked about (with the exception of crafting) is available to players who simply purchase either the boxed copy or digital download of Global Agenda. What treats await for subscribers willing to part with a planned (all content is currently free as a launch offer) £8 a month?
That would be Conquest Mode, something many people considered the most interesting part of Global Agenda's design prior to launch. Here, players are allowed to form Agencies (guilds of the future) then spend huge wads of money bidding on an unoccupied hex on one of five hex maps. Once you have some territory (which might create money, blueprints or even powerful vehicles for your agency) you become part of a scramble for neighbouring hexes that lasts for two and a half hours a day and begins at a different time on each on each of the five zones.
At once, Conquest Mode is Global Agenda at its fiercest and weakest. With something at stake on the outcome of these matches they become hugely tense and team-focused affairs, and playing to that standard you'll likely have more fun than you would anywhere else in the game. On the other hand, Conquest sees Global Agenda at its most crushingly mediocre. You might have 700 players in your Agency but you're still stuck playing the same 10-vs.-10 point-capturing match you'll recognise from PvP, and while the maps are new, there aren't many of them. Global Agenda's sole concession to scale is that you can link together "Strike Forces" so you're playing a maximum of six 10-vs.-10 games concurrently, but in terms of territory-based MMO gaming this is unexciting stuff.
It's also the smallest amount of content I've ever seen anyone try and demand a subscription for. Or it would be if they were demanding it yet. In Hi-Rez's defense, Conquest Mode is free for everyone until March 3rd, it's currently in its infancy, and the developers are doing a lot of talking about bolstering how many game modes and maps it has before they begin charging. But then, that's why we have re-reviews for online games.
However, without a total reboot, what bars Global Agenda from being an obvious purchase will not change. It's a shooter without eloquence or crunch, an MMO without content or personality, and as an experimental combination of the two it's missing ambition. I played Planetside for a year because I was so inspired by what it tried to do, and because its problems tended to arise from it being huge and daring at any cost. This? It barely has any problems beyond its averageness. And that's a much, much harder thing to get behind.
6 / 10