Wot I Think: Red Orchestra 2

By Jim Rossignol on September 21st, 2011 at 9:09 am.

Caught in the crosshair. That could be a visual metaphor, couldn't it? Gosh. Clever.
Last week’s launch of Red Orchestra 2: Heroes Of Stalingrad was a troubled one. With a seemingly overwhelming number of players reporting bugs and performance issues, it stumbled into commercial release still reeling from the flashbangs of development. Can Tripwire’s brutal shooter sequel get past this quagmire of problems and snatch victory from the jaws of crashbugs? Here’s Wot I Think.

There’s little doubt that Tripwire mangled the normally-reliable workhorse of the Unreal engine into something more like a haywire donkey for the beta and launch of Red Orchestra 2. The bugs were many and the performance issues on less muscular PCs woeful. It’s unacceptable when games turn up like this, and despite the near-certainty that Tripwire will patch and polish this game into a shining medallion of PC shooter achievement, I can’t help feel disappointed that so many gamers had to suffer those experiences of exasperation and frustration not just during the vital testing phase of the beta, but also in the days beyond. It doesn’t help when the game itself is so challenging, either. Any company that inflicts such pain on its players trades away lots of goodwill, of course, and Tripwire will have to earn that back. And they can do that by showing us what a magnificent donkey they’ve actually created.


What this broken metaphor is reaching for is that Red Orchestra 2 is a strong, sometimes thrilling game that carries some of the enormous weight of expectation placed on it. When it works, it’s genuinely something special. It’s a fierce game, focused on an intense and ambitious multiplayer game with vehicles and versatile infantry on maps that support up to 64 players. It is primarily multiplayer (although there is a bot driven campaign which I will mention later) and it is extremely demanding in a number of ways. The level of skill and concentration it begs is old fashioned, but its also refreshingly honest about what a lot of gamers actually want from their FPS games: a nerve-fraying experience that insists you learn how to play, rather than simply teaching you how to get to the next level.

The most crucially important aspect of Red Orchestra 2 is what it inherited from the previous games – mods that were equally unforgiving in their determination to paint WW2 realism onto less complex bones. In terms of the cover and gunplay model, and how it has built on what went before, this is a minor masterpiece, and it is mechanically fascinating. There’s not much in the world of FPS games that matches up to this, I feel, and that’s clear from the first tortuous rifle exchange across an ashen field of battle.

The use of cover allows you to hug close to it, pop over it, lean around it, and generally make use of what litters the combat environment in a way that most other games only hint at – I am thinking here of the likes of Crysis 2, with its cover-surfing attachment system. What we have here in RO2 is not exactly a simulation, but it is nevertheless setting out to deliver a kind of fuller realism than FPS games generally wish to challenge their players with. You can crouch behind cover here or there, wherever something stands in the battlefield, and then pop up to takes shots, fire blind, mantle over the cover, go prone, sprint from crouching or prone, crawl on your belly, lean around corners… yes, the potential for adaptation and precision in movement here is on a par with (and personally I feel far slicker than) games like Arma 2. The way Red Orchestra 2 works in terms of rolling all this into a functional system is exciting and engaging to my FPS-warped brain. (I hope Stalker 2 and other forthcoming PC stalwarts manages to do something similar in the future.)


The gunplay too, is more intricate than we might be used to, with guns modelled close to how the might behave in the real world. Expect to use iron sights, and expect to have to adjust the calibration of these for distance. Lethality is enormously high, too, and if a sniper gets his crosshairs over you, that’s it. I know that extreme likelihood of instant death makes these sorts of games off-putting for many players, but it’s also precisely why I am getting a kick out of it. The personal reward of surviving, and then going further than that into killing, makes this far more dramatic than the more run-and-gun shooters I (and I suspect most of you lot) have been playing over the past few years. Seeing a comrade go down, knowing the sniper is on you, and then escaping – or even taking him out – is a brilliant videogame high.

That said, there are some bizarre aspects to it that I don’t quite understand. It seems that the concessions to realism mean that the German equipment really is better than that carried by the Russian team… Which means it’s deliberately unbalanced? I mean am assuming that’s deliberate, and not some weird fluke of development, but it left me puzzled. This is still a game, after all. Realism need only go so far. Did we really need to go that far? I had a bit of a search for this issue on forums and so forth, expecting it to be some aspect of one of the “hardcore” game modes, but it genuinely seems to be a thing. Baffling.


Anyway, yes, the general trend for accessibility in gaming is a good one, I think, because it made designers think about what they were making, and make it better. Better designs almost always mean comprehensible game systems, and that generally makes for more interesting games. But I think many designers eventually headed off in wrong directions with the idea, because being accessible doesn’t mean that the game is simple, necessarily, but more that it teaches you how to play, and keeps you wanting to learn what it has to teach. There are a few games that are good at this, and there others which basically admit that they are terrible teachers, even though their lessons are vital and ultimately fascinating. RO2 is one of those terrible teachers, although it doesn’t want to admit it. Red Orchestra’s tutorial, which is essentially a bootcamp sequence which teaches a bit about bullet falloff, iron sites, going prone and all that malarky, then opens up into a bot-driven campaign, where you get to put some of this into practice. It’s okay, I suppose – if you ignore the armed-but-stunned-clown AI – but not all that entertaining, and certainly not as entertaining as playing against real people. Which is where the game becomes inaccessible. Real people are tough to play against, but defeating them also matters.

Even in open matches of the less hardcore modes of the multi-player game you need to be fairly FPS-competent to compete. It demands that you learn things like the map layouts and personal spatial awareness very quickly indeed. The issue here is that despite being tough, Red Orchestra is, fortunately, equally compelling on numerous levels. Mechanically it feels superb to master. As I’ve already mentioned the FPS mechanics and weapon physics are sort of welcomingly realistic, without seeming simulatory, but also very flexible, and provide both dynamic possibilities for how a player approaches a situation, and the capacity to do more than just run behind the nearest wall when getting in and out of trouble. The weapons too offer more with their nod to realism: bullets smacking through thin cover is a terrifying thing to be on the wrong side of, but also fantastic to take advantage of.


The game does not, I think, look as good as it could do, with plenty of muddy textures and odd bits of level design. (In fact I found the maps to be generally disappointing, not simply in visuals but also in layout – some of them simply do favour one team, which makes sense, given history, but again it’s something I an uncomfortable with.) I understand that the Eastern Front was a lot of flat Russian towns lying in ruins, but I just wanted a bit more imagination or unexpectedness than is on offer here. But the failings in vision for the art almost don’t matter, because the overall atmosphere it delivers, in everything from the palette of the world to the intense and brilliantly orchestrated audio, creates an evocative experience. The physicality of it, too, is never in doubt, and the animations, the sound effects, and the general visual feedback from weapons and explosions give a splendid impression of close up war. There’s a lot of detail here, especially in the way characters move, and it all makes a lot of sense. Ugly, perhaps, but it’s ugly in the way that a brilliant actor can get away with not having a face for Hollywood. All the talent is there underneath. It moves in a way that might not be pretty, but is convincing and useful to the project at hand. And the project here is brutal manshootery.

I can still hear the screams.

CONCLUSIONWAFFE: Red Orchestra 2 is a bold, frightening, stumbling beast of a game. It is laden with mod heritage, some good some bad, making only a nod to newbies and sending frustrated bug-suffers to lay face down in the blood-streaked swamp of annoyance. Some people are already spitting out their own teeth in frustration at crash bugs and performance jitters, and will continue to do so at least until they’re ironed out, and that’s a shame. Those that can get away with smoother experiences, however, are feeling much happier. (I am one of those. My tech troubles have been limited to some jitters with the browser. and a single crash in the beta) Further, it’s not going to worry Battlefield 3′s visuals, or any other FPS’s single-player for that matter, because despite the attempt to package the bot-play as single-player, that aspect can be all but jettisoned as an irrelevance. That’s reflected in the price.

Red Orchestra 2 rides on its attempt to push classical FPS game modes towards a sort of limited realism, and it excels at that. Yes, despite all the quibbling I still can’t help feeling that this is one of the most laudable games I’ve played this year. Get hold of it if you are even vaguely inclined towards more serious multiplayer combat, it’s quite the game.

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104 Comments »

  1. Nallen says:

    I shall un-nit-pick ;)

    I had no idea that this was a multiplayer focused game. I have to be honest, I think it would infuriate me, but it does sound like it has a certain kind of appeal. For me at least this will be one to revisit fully patched and at a lower price point. I am vaguely aware of the reputation of the mod and it seems a real shame that they didn’t do a robust job of releasing this in to the same market as The Other 64 player FPS game.

    • Eclipse says:

      Well it’s the sequel of Red Orchestra, that was… *drumrolls* a multiplayer only fps :)
      Tripwire does really good multiplayer shooters, Killing Floor was their second game for example

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      Malibu Stacey says:

      Technically Killing Floor wasn’t Tripwire’s game. It was a mod for one of the Unreal games which they ‘assisted’ in developing into a standalone product using Unreal Engine 2.5 & published. Not sure if the mod team are part of Tripwire these days or not & none of that takes anything away from how awesome a game Killing Floor is.

    • El_Emmental says:

      @Malibu Stacey
      “Technically Killing Floor wasn’t Tripwire’s game. It was a mod for one of the Unreal games which they ‘assisted’ in developing into a standalone product using Unreal Engine 2.5 & published.”

      Nope, Killing Floor IS a Tripwire game, they reworked most of the mod content, greatly changed the game mechanics and game dynamics.

      Tripwire Interactive worked with several KF mod lead, as you can see on this Gamefront article : http://www.gamefront.com/gt-qa-tripwires-killing-floor/

      This Alex Quick interview : http://www.moddb.com/games/killing-floor/features/killing-floor-interview-alex-quick

      also shows that the mod is not just a “port”, that the TWI devteam worked a LOT on the game. Also, the free DLC (aka “updates”) adding content to the game (one part being custom maps going official, after testing and fixing map glitches, the other part being new weapons/specimen)

      I can’t find Red Orchestra 2 credits in the files, but in Killing Floor credits (located in the PDF manual), several Killing Floor original members of the devteam are listed in the Tripwire Interactive category.

      Killing Floor (the game) IS a Tripwire Interactive game. The original idea and concepts are from the mod, but it’s a real game on its own. And some KF devs are (probably) working at TWI (= on RO2).

  2. Kaira- says:

    …. Crysis 3?

    Other than that, sounds like a good shooter that for christmas sales, they’ve probably fixed most of the bugs by then and the community somewhat stabilized.

    • TrouserDemon says:

      I’m fairly sure that in most cases the Russians get more reinforcements, outweighing the mostly minor weapon imbalances, although the MKB42 is definitely far superior.

    • GenBanks says:

      I think the idea of a realistic weapon imbalance is awesome. I’m just disappointed there isn’t a chance that you will spawn without a weapon if you play as the Soviets.

    • Nullkigan says:

      @GenBanks

      That’s something made up by COD 1 and Enemy at the Gates. The Russians had plenty of weapons and munitions, just a lack of organisation and manpower.

    • kataras says:

      If I remember well, that was only after Stalin forced-industrialised (is that even a word) a lot of the ex-Sov republics to produce weapons and armor for the war. In the beginning the Red Army was lacking a lot in terms of weapons compared to the Germans…

    • Nullkigan says:

      I don’t really want to grog out a comments thread much more but if you follow the numbers provided by the book referenced here: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110505090204AAIHsFG

      In Stalingrad, the Russians had more guns and more guns per man than the Germans. It was only in WW1 they had a deficit and they learned from it and corrected the issue between the wars.

      A lot of work certainly did go into setting up production lines for e.g. the t34 and optimising the ppsh runs, though.

    • kataras says:

      Hm I guess we re both right in a sense: ‘Early in the Great Patriotic War, the Red Army fielded some excellent weaponry, especially artillery and tanks. [..] The rapid progress of the initial German air and land attacks into the Soviet Union made Red Army logistical support difficult, because many depots, and most of the USSR’s industrial manufacturing base lay in the country’s invaded western half, obliging their reestablishment east of the Ural Mountains. Until then, the Red Army was often required to improvise or go without weapons, vehicles, and other equipment.’ So now how about some Countdown!

    • Jumwa says:

      Yeah, despite the highly misleading popular perception (as given by a movie like Enemy at the Gates) the Soviets were not short on weapons by the time of Stalingrad. In fact, they had a manpower shortage at that point, if anything. They had expended so many troops recklessly in the early stages of the war that they were hurting bad for them by then. Meanwhile Soviet industry (with the help of foreign aid) was pumping out an ever increasing amount of armaments.

    • thehollowman says:

      I believe the imbalance between german and soviet forces is more meant to reflect the superior training and experience of the Germans rather than their equipment being better (though some was, especially their armour). The Germans had been fighting for two years, they’d felled France, the Soviets had a mess of an army, a Great Purge not many years before, and Stalin did not expect the Germans to invade.

      So it’s a lot easier to give the Germans a boost to represent these factors, I guess, though it definately needs balancing.

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      c-Row says:

      WW2 was pretty unbalanced to begin with.

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      bear912 says:

      My Mosin-Nagant doesn’t care about weapon balance.

    • Sassenach says:

      As far as I know, the main problem the Soviets had in the beginning of WW2 was that Stalin had purged the army of it’s officers.

      Those chaps in the funny hats? Turns out they can be quite useful.

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      wengart says:

      The weapons aren’t that unbalanced. The Soviets have a minor advantage in semi-auto rifles, and although the DP-28 is technically worse than the MG-34 it doesn’t really matter, Sovs get a clear advantage in sniper rifles, and the only area where it gets iffy is the SMGs. The PPSH is good out to 80-100 meters but the MP40 has a much lower recoil, while the STG44 protoype is a solid gun for most ranges although the recoil is a little high for automatic fire at range.

      It’s mostly a German fetish that people have going. It leads to teamstacking of the Germans and the leftovers get thrown on the Russian team.

    • Kynrael says:

      I always go Russian actually, but I guess that’s because I got into the habit in RO1.
      But yeah, STG-44 is and was my favorite weapon because it’s so versatile. Otherwise, a nice semi-auto works well too !

    • lunarplasma says:

      In World War 2, the Germans were the ones trying to get their mitts on the PPSh, wasn’t it? They even made their own ammo fit into it so they could use it.

  3. Real Horrorshow says:

    WOT I THINK: they should have delayed it another month or two, and next time they should hire professional testers for such an ambitious project.

    • BellTollsForThee says:

      +1
      lol then it would be perfect as a steam sale in nov. Not Buying til halloween or after when l get some moneyv

  4. Brahms says:

    Great game, makes bullets scary again, but the balance towards the Germans is sort of baffling. Though due to the huge lethality of all the guns, not as bad as you might imagine if you’re used to less lethal games, and does add a sort of honour to playing as the Allies and winning anyway.

    It is a bit weird though. If you’re going to go that far, why not make it so that the Russians always have more reinforcements? Or just go whole hog and acknowledge that the Russians won the war and have every match be a Russian victory?

    I’m not sure if this balance issue is acknowledged by limiting player classes for the Germans. Does anyone know?

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    corbain says:

    I’d pretty much agree with this ..i’ve only suffered a few bugs, but even so, the sheer “realism” of the game has had me closer to throwing my keyboard through the window than any other game i’ve played.

    That said, the flipside is that when you manage to kill a few enemies, capture a territory and turn the tide, the elation is something i can only compare to PvP in Eve Online.

    Speaking of territorial capture, i had heard there would be various game modes, but all servers seem to be set to territorial mode… did I misunderstand the game modes? Or is territorial simply the best?

    • TrouserDemon says:

      Territory is simply the most popular mode. Countdown has counterstrike style rounds and no respawning, and Firefight is basically Team Deathmatch.

    • Nullkigan says:

      I love Countdown as it basically makes flanking worthwhile whilst focusing both teams to a single combat area.

      The reason it doesn’t run much on the Unofficial RPS Heroserver is that (like the tank map aka Gumrak the horribly performing, and Fallen Fighters aka no cover for three hundred meters all death no kills simulator) it makes people leave in huge numbers. In this case, because they can’t respawn for a minute or two. A bad commander on the attack can also ruin your chances completely.

      Other servers have probably experiences similar things which is why TE is dominant. It’s amusing that the playerbase, which is so hostile to “COD”-a-likes and “noobs”, seems to refuse to play the most original mode.

      (Firefight isn’t worth talking about. Team deathmatch isn’t hugely original, and random spawn locations dropping you in front of an enemy firing squad is never fun)

    • TrouserDemon says:

      Hold on, Territory IS the original mode from Red Orchestra: Ostfront. Countdown and Firefight are new additions.

    • kataras says:

      One more vote for Countdown! I don’t mind the other modes, I really think it depends who you play with and the map (the apartments one is horrible for example). Maybe if we ever get round to agreeing on a set day for RO2 on the server, and if enough people agree, we can have a few rounds of countdown on that night?

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      “Hold on, Territory IS the original mode from Red Orchestra: Ostfront”

      No. “the most original mode” NOT “the original mode”

      As in, the mode that is most different from other similar games.

  6. Real Horrorshow says:

    I have to add on to the imbalance issue. I would be fine with it if everything really was like real life, but some of the weapon modeling and the elective choices to include prototype weapons is what throws it out of whack, and kind of makes me think that it might actually be deliberate fan service to their Axis loving fans (as polls on their forums consistently show).

    Specifically I’m talking about:

    Mkb 42 (StG44 prototype) that wasn’t even in Stalingrad. Its insanely good, the Russian counterpart the AVT-40 can’t put 2 rounds within 10 feet of eachother at 5 paces and only has a 10 round magazine. This might really be the way the weapons are IRL, but they had no reason to include these. They could have pulled something from the ass of history better than the AVT-40, since historical fact isn’t a problem.

    The T-34 sucks for no apparent reason.

    The PPSh recoil is higher than IRL. I shot one at one of those places in Vegas where you can rent crazy guns just to shoot them for a bit, so I can attest to this personally.

    and the MP-40/II ultra-hyper-mega-almost-alternate-reality rare 64 round magazine, which pretty much erases the advantage the PPSh is supposed to have.

    and of course, the maps

    • razgon says:

      There’s a high probability that what you shot in Vegas isn’t the same edition as was used during world war 2 I’m afraid.

      That said, the weapons need some sort of balancing and Tripwire are on the right track. I just hope it doesnt die out because of all the launch issues, because underneath all those is a pretty damn cool game.

    • Dana says:

      T-34 doesn’t suck. I play mostly Soviets, and I always land at the top quarter of the scoreboard. Its armor is very good, gun adequate, mobility splendid. Even thought I agree it may feel under performing, since direct equivalent to Panzer 4 Nazis have, would be T-34/85 in my opinion.

    • Sassenach says:

      I’ve not noticed a huge disparity in equipment, but then I don’t like taking the limited classes in case someone else wants them. That leaves me with the basic rifle which is virtually functionally identical for each side.

      I still don’t know why they put the progression system in. It creates both balance and realism problems without offering much except an additional reason to play, not a very good reason at that.

    • SexualHarassmentPanda says:

      One thing you should consider is that your soldier becomes better as he levels up. The recoil rate, speed of aiming, reload time, etc all get better over time. The AVT-40 and the PPSH have some pretty high recoil at range, but if you keep playing your soldier gets better at controlling the recoil. The guns are all very lethal, so you just need to adapt and use the weapons how they were design. Take single fire at long range on the AVT, double tap at chest level at medium range(CS-style, the second round goes to the head), and if someone bum rushs you close range go full auto and gradually start aiming lower.

      Plus the Germans have some pretty crap guns in areas too. The SVT-40 out classes the German G41 to begin with, but when you put a scope on them for the sniper variants they are world apart. The Scoped G41 sight looks practically laughable, while the scoped SVT-40 has a proper closed site with nice crosshairs.

  7. WaveOfMutilation says:

    Haven’t played enough to notice a serious imbalance on the weapons yet so I won’t comment on that.

    I am however surprised that you failed to even mention my favourite thing about this game. The tanks. It’s the first time in a videogame where piloting a tank really makes me feel like I’m trapped in a confined metal box with limited visibility of the outside world. And having shots actually damage different parts of the tank and kill members of the crew means you have to think carefully about which parts of the lumbering beast you expose to enemy fire.

    God I love the tanks.

    • Real Horrorshow says:

      Agreed. The aforementioned shitty T-34 is annoying, but in general the tanking in this game is superb when it’s not bugging out.

      I can’t help but daydream of a World of Tanks type game, but actually IN the tank like in RO2. It would be the greatest thing ever.

    • nubbuka says:

      @Real Horrorshow Cheers to that!
      In RO2, does the tank have several player slots that each one has a different task
      (ex. Driver, gunner, commander and re-loader)?

      On subject: I’ve yet to play online with other interweb players but I’ve entered quickly to the training and the first stage of the campaign and I had a little problem controlling the Cover system. It felt kinda… complex because having to press all these buttons just to look to the left is kinda weird…
      Does anyone also has the same problem? and if so does it come naturally after some experience?

    • D says:

      Driver, gunner, commander but the slots only unlock if the first person in the tank wants them to. So bring friends.

      Don’t worry about using the cover system, it’s not advantageous to your survival. Blind fire is good, but I wish they had just used a “press to blindfire” key rather than having to enter and exit a whole system.

    • paterah says:

      Yup, I remember them saying in an interview that it took them several months to fully render just one tank so they would have 2 tanks in the game in total on release day and might add more later.

  8. BellTollsForThee says:

    great review.

    I cant wait to buy!

  9. Jockie says:

    While undoubtably slicker than Arma 2 in terms of controls, it still feels pretty clunky at times. Trying to apply a bandage whilst near any form of cover is virtually impossible and I still have no idea how the hell I pick up a fallen foes weapon.

    I want to like this game more than I actually do so far.

    • Premium User Badge

      JB says:

      You’re not going to like this, but to pick up a fallen foe’s weapon it’s…..CTRL

      Yes, the same button as”Use Cover” and “Apply Bandage”.

      I’m still liking the game.

    • ajf0 says:

      If you are near cover then pressing CTRL applys the bandage and goes into cover simultaneoulsy

    • rayne117 says:

      @ajf0

      No. No it does not.

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    Monchberter says:

    I actually think that RO2 is one game where a sense of not having a clue of what’s going on, just adds realism in some sense to the game. The problem with multiplayer is that you are expected to learn the maps. If RO2 included some form of randomised levels, then we’d have a classic.

    I do agree with the point made about the inferiority of Russian weapons though, Tripwire should have gone all the way and made team numbers unbalanced on purpose, 1/3 German to 2/3 Russian, AND forced half the Russian players to start unarmed and be expected to scavenge a rifle from a dead comrade.

    • HybridHalo says:

      Left Control – That button seems to do a lot of things, it’d be good to have the option to split up some of the controls – having shift as sprint and hold breath has led to me bringing up ironsights only to un-sight and sprint into an enemy a couple of times.

      I’m confident this will be addressed at some point, as there’s no reason for it not to be (It may already have been).

      Really enjoying RO2 here, performance issues aside – it’s the most satisfying FPS I’ve played in a long time. Nothing quite like dinging the helmet of an enemy from 200m away.

    • Sassenach says:

      You don’t always get kill notifications on lethal shots instantly either, so the metallic ding is a good alternative signifier of such.

    • Reefpirate says:

      While it frustrates me sometimes as well, I kind of like the fact that you can’t hold shift to control your breathing and move at the same time… It forces a trade-off between better vision and stability while aiming and a little bit of movement. You either hold still and aim real well, or aim less well and move a little bit.

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    Paraquat says:

    Flawed as it is, I really like it. Unfortunately, a rather severe stat-tracking bug caused me to gain about 40 levels with one kill, and I just can’t bring myself to play it any more until they fix it.

  12. Chris says:

    [quote]It seems that the concessions to realism mean that the German equipment really is better than that carried by the Russian team[/quote]

    The Russians frequently were vastly out equipped by the Germans. If the game did not reflect it, it may as well be called CoD: Stalingrad.

  13. Jockie says:

    Heh, well as long as I don’t need to apply a bandge or the weapon isn’t near a wall…

    Thanks though!

  14. Eraysor says:

    I actually think this is one of the nicest looking games I have, especially if you turn up the post-processing (not that that makes it easier to play!) But I do love it to bits. The review nails the fact that merely staying alive in this game feels like a big achievement!

  15. RegisteredUser says:

    Did you really just write “Iron sites”?

    ..are you out of iron? I hear it’s hard to find.

    ..and in the game: Is there really still no incentive to bother with this series as a single player game?

    • ankh says:

      It has a full Axis campaign. I can’t think of any other semi-real WW2 shooter that has one. I’m loving it.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Hummmmm..might have to check the demo out or similiar if there is one then.

      Thanks.

  16. Kieron Gillen says:

    Why are there no orcs in this?

    KG

  17. airtekh says:

    I shall be purchasing a multiplayer shooter soon so I have a quick question for those who have played both:

    What should I get, Red Orchestra 2 or Brink?

    • ajf0 says:

      Depends how casual you are and how much polish matters to you.

      You can be rest assured that RO2 will around for several years to come but as far as I know isn’t Brink almost dead already?

    • airtekh says:

      I’m in two minds really.

      I’ve seen a lot of people hating on Brink but they’ve failed to specify exactly what is wrong with it (aside from the servers being empty). Also, as a huge Team Fortress 2 fan, Brink is the one that is slightly more appealing to me.

      Red Orchestra 2 also interests me though; the instant death and interesting cover system seem to point to a more tactical shooter, which I also like but for different reasons.

      Ah sod it, I think I might buy both if I can find them cheap enough.

    • Walsh says:

      Awful choke point laden level design

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      Malibu Stacey says:

      Depends on whether you want to play it or not. Brink is lucky to have a couple of hundred people playing across the planet at any time while RO2 has anywhere from 3 to 6 thousand depending on the time of day.

    • Askeladd says:

      I got Brink and it’s one of those games that will die.
      RO2 on the other hand.. will not die in the immediate future.
      If you are FPS MP causal/novice play Brink.
      If you played games like CS and didn’t mind dying to an AWP then go for RO2.

    • j1yeon says:

      Brink just has poor gameplay mechanics overall.. very unsatisfying. If you like TF2, I’d be looking at Nuclear Dawn. It has class-based gameplay, different loadouts, and a huge strategy/commander element, akin to Savage 2 or Natural Selection. Lots of direct team support in that game as well.

      RO2 is one of the best games I’ve played in a long time, but the bugs are just so.. annoying. Having to restart my game during map changes, the awful performance, the completely bugged stats. Apparently I’m level 80 in Honor now.

    • wazups2x says:

      Brink is horrible and the community is long dead. I wouldn’t take Brink if it was free.

    • Shooop says:

      I suspect the Brink community is already dead. Wasn’t that popular at launch even.

  18. MD says:

    Box Quotes Time!

    “a haywire donkey…face down in the blood-streaked swamp of annoyance”

    “a shining medallion of…magnificent donkey”

    “what a…shame”

  19. Walsh says:

    I have seem more and more maps getting rolled by the Allies, especially with the latest map tweak patch. Weapon imbalance isn’t as bad as you think. On the topic of the MKB, the MP40 is still easier to shoot than the MKB, MKB has the advantage of range and single fire mode. Every newbie rushes to the MKB when they should be using the MP40, which has less kick.

    PPSSHHHH and AVT should avoid firing without bracing on cover but once you level it a few times, it’s more manageable.

    What I don’t think people know is as you level your weapons you get better with them, such as the speed to aim down sites, reload time, etc. Nevermind, the actual practice with it. Take a night to only use the PPSSSHH and you’ll be much better with it.

    • Askeladd says:

      This is what makes such games great. You have to put effort into it to be successful.
      In BFBC2 you take the MGs and just go spray and pray.
      Its fun but can also be frustrating.

  20. Bobzer says:

    Has anyone else noticed that the cover system, while brilliant, is more likely to get you killed than anything else?

    All the times I sneakily set myself up in cover I was sniped the moment I peeked over it, while leaning around it or simply standing back behind the cover makes me some sort of invisible camping machine.

    • AlexTaldren says:

      Yeah, it’s definitely true. For example, if you walk up to a doorway, you COULD go into cover to the right or left, and then either peek or shift out of cover to fire.

      BUT, why do that and instantly get killed when you can stand about 5 feet back from the door, zoom in with ironsights, and slowly move at an angle so you can see out the door? This way you only expose your body to anything in your field of vision, rather than exposing your body to everyone within 180 degrees of vision.

      I’ve pretty much stopped using the cover system for that very reason… it makes you slower and easier to kill.

    • Premium User Badge

      wengart says:

      Soldiers in modern militaries are trained to fight from as deep inside a building as possible for a reason.

  21. sharkh20 says:

    Some of the worst map designs I have ever played, the bugs are highly irritating, and the graphics look incredibly dated. There is nothing worse than the game killing you because you were capping a flag that suddenly turns into a protected area. For a game about tactics, punishing people for trying to flank in such a way is terrible. Because of this, the game promotes camping the entire map unless you want to be very frustrated. There are few aspects of this game that don’t have some annoying and unneeded addition tacked on to it. Sorry for the rant, but I cannot recommend this game.

    • Walsh says:

      I’m sorry but that’s bullshit. You should’ve been guarding your capture point instead of off in the wilderness.

      They kill you because you would be right next to oppossing teams spawn point and it’s difficult to remove an entrenched player in this game.

    • sharkh20 says:

      Guard my point? I was supposed to be attacking the opposing team’s point. What you stated is the exact problem I brought up. The game awards for camping instead of trying to do the objective. I am sorry that I try to do the objective instead of sit in my spawn like you suggested…Also, forgive me for not trying to run directly at a building with 30 windows full of people instead of trying to flank.

    • Askeladd says:

      Isn’t there a harsh timer that limits the usage of camping for the attacking team?

    • SexualHarassmentPanda says:

      Some of the worst map design you ever played? Do you play any other shooters that have recently launched? The map design is miles ahead of anything I’ve seen. In fact they spent months on site at various places in Stalingrad researching and designing these maps.

      Why don’t you go back to Nuketown?

  22. AlexTaldren says:

    I definitely enjoy the game when it lets me. Even if you toss out the bugs, the controls alone are frustrating and just feel slow and clunky. Small debris such as wooden chairs make your character bounce around like a ping pong ball. Nothing irritates me more than left-clicking to fire… and nothing happens (the game just didn’t recognize my click). I’ve also had my bullets pass through enemies more times than I can count. I’m not sure if that’s simply a lag problem, but I have noticed quite a few 28.8k modem people here and there (250ms and more).

    This player progression/stats bug doesn’t bother me much, but it’s just another example of poor execution on their part. I may revisit after patches, but BF3 will be out soon and I only have so much free time.

  23. Bobtree says:

    It’s still $24 on GetGamesGo for a Steam key today: http://www.getgamesgo.com/product/red-orchestra-2-heroes-of-stalingrad

    I’m holding off buying it for now because of all the issues.

  24. Shadrach says:

    Thanks for this Wot, it reflects a lot of what I feel, being a long-time RO player. I really enjoy the game so far. The last few days of patches seems to have fixed some of the performance issues. The single-player isn’t really that bad, I quite enjoyed it; although short it’s got some immensely tense moments.

    Re: the balance, Tripwire are tweaking the weapons and load outs, and will reduce the number of auto weapons, especially the frankly overpowered German SMGs.

    Oh and it’s “sights” not “sites” btw!

  25. RoTapper says:

    If you liked RO1 you’ll probably like RO2. Its at times a frustrating game, while at others providing satisfying hero moments you don’t really get in other fpses.

    They could have done without the stat/unlock stuff as it doesn’t really add much to the game. Its not as though you get 5 machine guns to choose from after a certain rank.

    The squad system isn’t very good as you generally have no idea where your squadmates are or what they are doing. Squad leaders rarely survive long enough for you to respawn on them, and it doesn’t really make sense for you to magically appear from their pocket in a realism game anyway.

  26. Premium User Badge

    LaunchJC says:

    No.1 tip for new players: Get in the cap zone!

  27. karumpa says:

    I was playing this game and “willing” it to be good. It just wasn’t. I just feel as if they felt that the game needed to reach the market in order to get some cash coming in… The problem with that is that the money coming in will be used to patch it instead of working on new things.

    The problems I had with it were spawning without weapons, or sometimes spawning without a “body” (I would appear at floor level and move around yet my view wouldn’t budge. Some CTD’s. The article mentions that slower machines have trouble with it. However, my machine is pretty much top of the line and I feel the game is only slightly better than playable.

    The balance issue isn’t so bad. The interface is a PITA in the case of respawns and especially map voting, and its probably the reason its always the same maps….
    My 2 cents.

  28. Synesthesia says:

    where do you guys stand on the MkB debacle? I think there should be less! less! less!

    • SexualHarassmentPanda says:

      They already removed the MkB from all classes except assault in a recent patch. Now only 4-6 people will have access to that weapon.

  29. SexualHarassmentPanda says:

    One of my favorite things about this game, and I am surprised no one has mentioned it so far, is the lack of emphasis on securing kills. Capturing points give the majority of the points, and you only get kill bonuses for protecting the points, assaulting the points, or protecting your commander/squad leader. Another great thing is that there is no death counter on the scoreboard. If you camp out to get a 1337 probro kill/death ratio no one will ever know because death counts are not reported. The only thing that matters score wise is securing objectives and ensure the enemy team does not.

  30. Astroman says:

    After playing a few hours I found the 32 player games were really fun. 64 player games on the other hand are totally unplayable. FUBAR. It’s constant death. Move out of cover for a second and 10-15 snipers take shots at you. I’m starting to think this game was never balanced for 64 players at all. They just flipped a switch and said 64 player go!

    • Premium User Badge

      wengart says:

      Depends on the map. Fallen Fighters can suffer when there are above 32 players but other maps do just fine, while some of the maps suffer from less than 50 players. Specifically Grain Elevator, with 64 players its great, with 32 not so much.

  31. wazups2x says:

    Bullet lag is my main issue with Red Orchestra 2. It’s very had for me to enjoy the game when almost every server has horrible lag. I swear it’s gotten even worse since the beta.

    Think I will take a break for a couple weeks and come back later to see if it’s fixed. It really has the potential to be amazing.

  32. syncswim says:

    That the Axis weapons are balanced to be superior to the Soviets’ is slightly baffling, as German equipment in 1942 was at the time still by and large inferior to Soviet kit. The supply problem in regards to winter uniforms and armored vehicles (sound familiar?) was still being ironed out, never to be fully resolved. A lot of the flash and bang ascribed to the Wehrmacht didn’t debut until the following year at Kursk, their big coming-out party for stuff like the Panther, Tiger, fancy leopard-print camo smocks and the MG42.

    I’m of two minds about the maps. While I appreciate Tripwire’s adherence to geographical accuracy and a credible portrayal of urban combat, I also find many of the maps too claustrophobic and scattershot. I miss the maps from Darkest Hour, where through clever use of the Territories cap points the creators gave the sense of a linear ebb-and-flow of fighting over every block of a town or village.

  33. Shooop says:

    I was only half-joking when I asked for this review. Cheers guys.

    On the topic of the game itself, sounds disappointing. I don’t mind a high learning curve, but purposely giving every advantage possible to snipers is simply the opposite of fun. This kind of thing was bad enough in Bad Company 2.

    • Premium User Badge

      wengart says:

      On each map there is only one sniper per team. What it actually is are guys with bolt action taking pot shots at people. If you know the map/ keep your head down you can advance unharmed or efficiently counter-snipe,

  34. Apocalypse 31 says:

    I’ve played the Red Orchestra Unreal Mod, Red Orchestra 41-45, and now I’ve played Red Orchestra HoS.

    I hate to say, but I think it’s kind of boring. There’s really nothing that stands out against all of the other FPS.

    What I do enjoy is the commander tools. It reminds me alot of BF2′s commanders tools; You can manage assets and really assist your team for the win. You can also command (or provide direction) for your squads by issuing attack and defend orders.

    The only problem is that there are alot of CoD’ies playing, and most people don’t work together during games. Everyone just runs off and does their own thing. Most games usually end in a draw (even though the system will call it a win for whoever recaptured most of their lost flags)

    • Apocalypse 31 says:

      I dont think people realize that when they’re playing as a Squad Leader, they can mark artillery targets for the commander. This is a HUGE help, and allows the commander to stay near his radio, where he can constantly call for assets and direct the battle.

  35. smithcorp says:

    I’m enjoying this game despite its flaws, but it grates that Tripwire have invented a new, bogus meaning for the word “mantle”. What is wrong with perfectly fine existing words like “vault”?

    • Echo Black says:

      Yes. You vault OVER something. You mantle BEHIND something.

  36. buzzmong says:

    I’ve been disapointed with RO2. Ignoring the fact it’s buggy, runs like it’s staving for fuel and looks like a hairy arse smothered in shiny grease, there are some serious problems with the weapons and the gameplay relating to them.

    Rifles in Ro2 are laser accurate. This is somewhat realistic as the rifles in WWII were accurate weapons.

    The problem lies with the people firing them. They weren’t laser accurate and in Stalingrad, they were cold, tired and hungry on both sides. Sadly in RO2 you can be sprinting, stop and snap into iron sights then fire off a perfect shot at a few pixels at 100m+ all within one second.

    RO1 had ridiculous OTT sway with weapons which basically forced you to prone or support the rifles and MG’s to fire accurate shots, but Ro2 has done away with it completely. Couple it with the shift-key extra zoom, and you’re essentially a sniping robot just without the scope.

    There’s hardly any times when you edge your head out to spot the enemy then snap it back in as you see and hear the bullets hit around you, because 99% of the time, you’ll be shot dead by a single perfectly accurate shot when only a slither of your helmet was showing.

    I hope they patch it and tweak it heavily, because currently the gun-play, which is the core of the game, is rather broken.

    • Magus44 says:

      THANK YOU!
      I’ve been trying to get into it. But its just absurd.
      The amount of times you get sniped, not even by a sniper, by some guy hiding in a building your assaulting using a bolt action. Or running around aims and blam, like a freak. Im not a military buff, but I dont think most soldiers could shoot THAT accurately.
      All it is, just rifle shots back and forth, and you cant even tell where they are. (Sure its intense crossing a field being shot at, and watching people die around you.) But then some guy runs out lifts his rifle and is pin point accurate.
      Oh and dont even bother going a Machine Gunner. They have a suppression meter, but its useless. Try to put down supression fire, blam 2 seconds later a perfect rifle shot in my head. Ugh. Sure I could set up ambushes with it, but that’s not the point. I really wanted to like it, but I just cant with these mechanics.

  37. Chucrute says:

    First of all, the single-player is a joke. The AI is not bad, it’s door knob dumb. It plays NOTHING in relation to the multi-player. Stay away from it if you want to play single-player only.

    About the MP, i haven’t played on it since the beta, the messy stats and bugs are turning me off for now. I had some trouble in the end of the beta, the first batch of maps was playable, the second was laggy-playable and the third broke everything. I played the single-player a little, even with lag, and multi-player mainly in the first days of beta, these are my impressions:

    Red Orchestra 2 is a game different from anything you have played so far. It focus on realism so much is almost like playing inside a live museum, from the way soldiers hold their weapons to the chaotic life of a tank crew, the amount of research done oozes from every polygon in the game. Soldiers scream in pain or mumble their last words to their killer, who doesn’t even understand them. They curse and mourn according to the tides of battle. The orchestrated music is excellent, increasing the drama or pumping the adrenaline when needed. Weapons are operated like a soldier would operate them. It’s wonderful for me to experience every little detail of this title, the maps are playable and at the same time are filled with detail, like inscriptions and photographs. You can see that on the campaign movies (the only good part of the single-player). That’s the part of Red Orchestra 2 that is absolutely brilliant.

    That realism is mitigated by game concessions. The maps aren’t open. Usually (unless playing tank maps) you’ll spawn near the objective, facing the front lines, ready to shoot fritz or ivan. The maps direct player flow and carefully taylor the killzones, usually with a fortunate tree or wooden plank on the windows. The “fear of windows” is gradually substituted as players learn all the maps ins and outs. That’s why RO2 never felt unforgiving to me, you know where players will be most of the time. It’s a heavily directed experience, and i don’t really know whether it’s good or bad. It definitely feels right when playing it.

    All the major problems with RO2 are in the technical level, beginning with the engine choice. Unreal 3 has horrible hit detection. You need to lead your target more than you should. How much you need to lead changes in a server to server basis, varying with your ping. It’s absolutely atrocious.

    I feel that behind the technical shortcomings RO2 is a wonderful game. It’s just so broke right now that i don’t want to play it.

    • buzzmong says:

      Just to point out, Tripwire didn’t have too much of a choice with the U3 engine. They won a competition which gave them a commercial licence iirc, so for a small studio like they are going with a “free” top notch engine vs paying for something else was a no brainer.

  38. Pheasant Plucker says:

    Caveat Emptor.

    I happen to be one of the several thousand lucky souls who can’t play multiplayer because of Tripwire’s stupid server querying system, which to date they are insisting is not their fault (instead they are blaming people’s routers).

    They don’t seem inclined to fix the problem so if you are unlucky then you could end up with an SP only game.

    • Jimmy says:

      You can use the Steam server browser to view active games. It is much better than the ingame version even in RO1.

      You can also directly ping in using the IP address of the server:
      Hit the @ key (UK keyb) to open the console and the command is “open [ip address]“. You can see a lists of server on gametracker.

      Then you can join in the brutality/frustration/glorious death march.

  39. dellphukof says:

    I don’t think they gave the maps enough credit, they are some of the best maps I have played in a multiplayer FPS, Spartanovka aside because that ones pretty dull.

    I also don’t think they played the sounds up enough. I wasn’t expecting much on this front for some reason, but they are done absolutely fantastic. The voices, ambient sounds, the incidental music, top notch all the way.

    I disagree with their assessment of animations in terms of the players. While the guns animate perfectly, there are many times that the players look like they are skipping animation/frames, many times they look clunky, not smooth.seo service