What with the concerning announcement this February by Activision that the single-player element of Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory was to be dropped, it's been left to developer Splash Damage to salvage the remains of the game as a free multiplayer download.
C&VG got the chance to ask lead designer Paul Wedgwood some questions about how things are coming along. The details he was prepared to reveal actually paint a picture of a really quite intriguing multiplayer experience, and one that's surprisingly feature-packed for a free release.
The game is a fast-paced and large-scale World War II multiplayer game [what isn't, these days? -Ed], with the outcome of a battle determined by a team's progress across a campaign of individual missions, as opposed to mere points-related success. Players are able to choose from five classes; Engineer, Covert Operations Specialist, Medic, Soldier or Field Ops, and each class has its own unique weapons and special abilities.
For each class, the use of their main skill results in an increase in experience points, and at certain levels these points contribute towards a reward. For example, if you raise your Battle Sense to Level 4, you get Trap Awareness (the ability to sense Land Mines). The rewards for levelling up in general include improvements in weapon handling, physical fitness, battlefield awareness, dexterity, access to resources, air and ground support and accuracy.
Other additions to the standard team-based multiplayer model include a Command HQ, which constantly updates players on the status of the game via 'radio', and the ability to form a fire-team with other players so you can conduct tactical assaults more efficiently.
There will be two campaigns included with the official release of Enemy Territory. The first of these is North Africa, which includes a daring gold robbery from the Axis in Libya, an attack on a tank garrison in Egypt and a beach assault on a large battery gun in Tunisia. The second is the Central European campaign which includes objectives like an attempt to destroy a fuel dump in Germany, steal radar technology in Sweden and sabotage a rail-gun near the Black Sea. Each campaign is fought across three separate missions.
At the end of each campaign, teams are presented with a debriefing, which identifies the overall winner, provides full stats on the game and all of the players, which can then be saved out as an HTML file for external use.
Visually, the maps have several features that are new to Enemy Territory, including atmospheric effects such as rain and snow to reduce visibility and foliage that players can use for cover, meaning the terrain and environment can be utilised for distinct tactical advantages.
We're still not sure when Splash Damage are likely to release the expansion, but despite the lack of a single-player element, it sounds as if it could be worth the wait after all.