Hands-On: Intruder

By Craig Pearson on February 14th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

Tactics!

Intruder is a tactical multiplayer game currently in very limited alpha. I was one of the few people to get early access, and more keys are on the way. The best place to keep track of sales is the Superboss Twitter account, and I think after you hear about my experiences with it you’ll probably want to. It’s lots of fun.

There is a pivot point in most tactical multiplayer games, a moment where plans crumble and everything goes wrong, and–if everyone is friendly– it makes the game ten times better. Swat 4 had it. Rainbow Six had it. And Intruder has it. Hell, Intruder quantifies it. On the bottom left corner of the screen is a balance indicator: keep it in the high 90s and you’re a sniping, sneaking, stealth master. When you’re panicking and sprinting away from danger, which is the only time you should be running, it lowers to under 50, affecting your aim. Stand on a railing, however, and it hits zero, pitching you headfirst over the side. Intruder makes you clumsy by design.

It’s trying to slow you down, to keep you quiet and tactical, and sort of punishing you but also not really. It became like Father Dougal’s big-red button to me. There is a particular railing in the lobby of the main map that I had to stop myself jumping on every time I passed through the building, saving it as an end-of-game treat. But this is a game of tactics, and there is that one time I tried to use it tactically.

Intruder is a multiplayer game of guarding and infiltrating. Two teams start at either end of the same building, with the guards given payloads to protect and the intruders attempting to steal them. The lobby in the main map is a nexus of at least four main entry points, so it can see lots of foot traffic. I’d crawled from the Intruder’s side of the building, taking the direct route by shuffling across the dark bridge that links the two sides of the building. As I arrived at the Guard’s section, I could hear a whispered discussion below. I heard a plan forming that sounded so hushed, so intricate, that I wanted to mess it up immediately. My best guess put him directly below me, and I imagined his surprise as my body came out of nowhere and knocked him out. I leaped onto the balcony, heard a squeak as my feet slipped from under me, and plummeted head-first into a plant. At least I received a yelp of shock as my reward.

I am not a smart man.

Intruder is as much about communication as it is about gun-play. The game is best when it’s three vs three and everyone at least attempts to have a plan. I’ve only played one main map: a sort of house cum office that’s just open enough to let you catch glimpses of the enemy, but with enough edges and rooms to make each view a fleeting moment. There’s a number of potential routes for the players to take: a garden you can sneak along, using bushes to keep hidden; there’s a bridge that offers a direct route, but you’re easily spotted there, even if you crawl. The vent is a bit stealthier, but it’s slow; trickier players will smash windows and leap into the water, but smarter players will slide the windows open and lower themselves down into the water via the vines at the back of the building. Guards and Intruders could pass within inches of each other and not even know about it, and just one wrong noise is enough to tip someone off. Voice chat is always on, enabling you to chat to team-mates in close proximity or over the radio, but anyone close enough can hear you talking. I coughed once and gave us away. It’s a lesson learned, and now in enemy territory I use a static-y click of the radio’s ‘transmit’ button as acknowledgement that I’m still alive. Two clicks means I’m living life to the max.

The mousewheel doesn’t flick through your weapons, something I’d consider an affront to FPS game design if not for the fact that it’s used to open doors and windows. It works wonderfully, and serves the levels perfectly: unlocked doors and windows react immediately to the mousewheel, smoothly swinging according to how far you tease them. The other gadgets, bound to the number keys, are suggestive of careful calamity: along with grenades and guns, you also have a C4, a proximity sensor, a radio for long-distance chit-chat, and my two favourite things: a cardboard cut-out in the shape of a sniper, and a camera on the end of a pole that you can use to see around corners, through gaps, and to take carefully staged selfies. Observe.

I love the camera. I love how extending it manages to be both cool and ludicrous. It never fails to crack me up when I encounter an enemy poking it around a corner, or I see it snaking out of a vent. I spot it, they spot me, and then there’s that moment’s hesitation before they back off, camera slowly escaping into the vent. What now? I could crack the entrance just enough to slide a gas grenade in there, but by now the vent jockey is probably out of range, perhaps sneaking off to another vent exit, or maybe back-tracking to attempt an entirely different route? I could crawl into the vent after them, but the first time I played Intruder I managed to trap the lead developer–a man who is named Rob Storm–in the mail room: we snuck in through a vent, a proximity sensor alerted the opposing team, and they remotely detonated some C4. I died half in and out the vent. His only escape route was corpsed-up and we lost when the guards swarmed the room.

Even though I’ve only spent time on the one map, it’s never boring. The modern design is open enough for me to sit on the roof of the Intruder side and watch for glimpses of movement all the way through to the opposite side of the level. You can see guards slip between floors in a controlled panic, planting bugs, waiting for any sign of movement, but trying to keep out of view. They crouch walk, they poke cameras everywhere, they fret when a cunning and handsome sniper shoots out a window on the opposite side of the building to where they are and crackles instructions to his team.

Glass breaks, smoke bursts, and plans become obscured. Let me tell you about an amazing little moment I witnessed from the ghostly realm of the spectator view. When you die, both teams come together to watch the remaining players spectacularly dodge each other. Our Graham, in his first night in the game, was left alone vs developer Rob Storm. Graham was backed into a room, but had the door covered from the inside. Rob, who invented the game, placed C4 on the door and backed off into a large, square room that’s basically an exposed box of glass. The smart level design means this apparent dead-end is nothing of the sort: he smashed a window and climbed onto the ledge, crawling along to the room Graham had hidden himself in. Graham was watching the door as Rob fired into the room, and when he tried to escape the C4 finished him off.

That same glass room was the scene of my finest moment. Like Graham, I’d been backed into the area, though this time it was with multiple guards. They weren’t being subtle because I was the only one on my side left. Shouted instructions filled the corridor, then a burst of smoke cloaked the doorway. I was dead! I turned to the window, fired a bunch of bullets as I ran at it, and dove out just as it shattered. I landed in the water and survived a few more minutes before being caught, but it was a glorious and silly escape, and completely indicative of Intruder’s emergent nonsense. I can’t wait for more people to play it.

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35 Comments »

  1. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I wish, wish, wish someone would make a single player tactical shooter in the mold of Ravenshield again.

    • Gap Gen says:

      There have been a few attempts – Takedown Kickstartered, released and got very lukewarm reviews (plus yeah, the SP is pretty bad). Ground Branch was another one that was proposed – it failed its Kickstarter but I think is still planning to release.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Ah I did not realise Takedown was SP as well, I thought it was MP only, thanks Gap Gen :) But yeah, I used to love the whole planning, waypointing, go commands and ‘possessing’ different soldiers as the game went on. It brought out my perfectionistic streak to find the optimal way through the map without losing one of my guys or gals. Going back to Ravenshield now, the visuals look so dated that I find it hard to enjoy (I know, not cool but I am old and set in my ways now bahh get orf my land). A new shiny title of that ilk would be really welcome.

        EDIT: Actually I just reloaded my old retail copy. It works fine without a hitch on W7, and actually the graphics are not that awful at all. Might have to get back into that.

        • afrodcyack says:

          CookPassBabtridge, have you played Doorkickers? It lacks first person, but has a lot of tactics involved that I find very engaging

    • keithzg says:

      Oh, I know. It shouldn’t be too hard! Just make a game where death is as easy, and guns as somewhat realistic, and let us have a level editor. But nope.

  2. Benn says:

    One of my personal first experiences with Intruder, watch out for those hand rails!

    http://underscorediscovery.com/sven/bennslip.mp4

    • jo-shadow says:

      Bahaha, that’s fantastic. Although be careful, you may want to throw that on a youtube video just so you don’t have to worry about hosting costs :)

  3. SillyWizard says:

    Does something prevent people from muting their mics?

    • sven says:

      It is an option perhaps the author missed in the menu, the voice is based on auto OR press to talk.

      For the radio (range voice chat) it’s explicitly push to talk but anyone around can hear you. For the close proximity voice chat which can be used for lying to enemies, or shouting warnings at team mates, it is auto or press to talk, configured from the menu!

    • jo-shadow says:

      It really is the kind of game where it is ruined by people if they use a private voice chat. there is nothing stopping them from doing so of course, but it’s best to play with people that understand this because you actually make it -less- fun for yourself if you cheat. It’s way more engaging if you have to speak in-world, and makes the entire experience more tense and fun.

  4. kaffis says:

    This.. sounds truly delightful.

  5. Ericston says:

    There were about 180 copies left in the current batch when I bought mine. Do join, we’ve got quite a nice newbie server going at the moment!

  6. GrapeJuiceBra says:

    Batch of 200 copies was put up over at the Intruder website (http://superbossgames.com/intruder/), at the moment 162 copies are left. Check the game out.

    Also as a correct to the article, most games are organized via IRC not twitter.

    By the way, for those who are new to the game, and want a tutorial. There’s this great one made by iDubbbz – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLObdbIklp4

  7. SteelRaven7 says:

    Super cool that people are exited about the game! There are a bunch of players and devs over at http://superbossgames.com/Chat for those that are interested in learning more.

  8. Dorga says:

    Bought it and played a game and sucked hard. Looks amazing!

  9. Ansob says:

    I hope you can kill one of the guys on the other team, steal their radio, then totally pretend to be them so you can eavesdrop on the other two’s conversations.

  10. draglikepull says:

    The phrase “house cum office” really needs dashes between the words. “House-cum-office” has a totally different meaning from “house cum office.”

  11. theallmightybob says:

    I love the mic mechanic, but what to prevent people from just using team speak and bypassing it? that’s always been a problem with proximity chatting in PC games.

    • zain3000 says:

      There really is nothing preventing people from working around the system. I suppose you just have to trust that others will respect the rules of the game. Perhaps the devs can come up with a system for tagging supposed “cheats”? I’m not sure how such a thing could be prooved, but at least it offers some solution.

    • BioSnark says:

      People using external programs to help them aim has also been a problem but what can you do?

  12. PopeRatzo says:

    multiplayer

    No again.

    Why have single-player AAA (or AA) games become so goddamn rare? I have money and I want to spend it on AAA singleplayer games for chrissake! $100? I don’t care, I’ll pay $100.

    What do I have to do to get a singleplayer AAA game? Am I the last human on earth who does not want to play co-op or MOBA or F2P?

    • KOLUNEZ says:

      Dumbass, you can’t have a game like this be singleplayer.

    • xao says:

      …. AAA games? Are you sure you posted this to the correct article?

    • Synesthesia says:

      You say this like this indie developer owes you a single player AAA game. Hm.

  13. iDubbbz says:

    Great game. There are only 2 maps right now, but the amount of routes you can take keeps it interesting. I’ve easily put 100 hours into it.

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  15. JustAchaP says:

    Memories of Takedown come flashing by

  16. thedosbox says:


    Swat 4 had it. Rainbow Six had it. And Intruder has it.

    Awww, what a great Valentines Day present! Thanks RPS!

  17. Gap Gen says:

    Is this just for the consoles or can we look forward to a coming Intruder (Windows)?

  18. Wolfie13 says:

    The limited nature of the release is so absurd that I’d consider -that- an affront to game design. Let us -buy- the damn thing so we can play it. It looks incredible.

    I have never been more frustrated than when I, debit card quaking in my fingertips, made an account on their site only to be fobbed off with a “no keys available” message. Bait & Switch at it’s worst.

    Just let people god-diddly-damn buy it.

  19. Headshirt says:

    The purchase model for Intruder is utterly pants on head retarded, and if any other developer follows in tow, so help me god I shall forever look at their title in disgust and scorn.

    It seems that I lack the ability to understand why a small company and team of devs whom–to my eyes–are making an amazing, interactive, and fun product, would not allow it to be purchased at the buyers will.

    Like Wolfie13,
    I as well have been lured into the bait and switch tactic these pathetic, yet brilliant, developers have used. I’ve sat here prepared to purchase a few copies after creating an account, only to be turned away, and told I can not.

    If Rob and Austin were to exclaim something along the lines of “the purchase model was to limit purchases to avoid the often “I want my money back” from illiterate gamers who don’t understand what purchasing betas is, I would still not understand. However, their explanation that the game is in early access, and thus can only support so many players is absurd. I feel that the truth of this model is either, drip feed those interested, and later upon release crank up the price to fill their capitalist needs, or an inability upon their part to create a true and effective system to purchase their game.

    In the end, I still feel that this is a gem of a game, and will wait until an implementation which will allow me to purchase it is in place.

    • sven says:

      Ever bought a multiplayer game and scrambled to play, really excited – only to find a bunch of paid, angry people shouting at the developers because a server has fallen over and there is a higher demand then anticipated?

      As developers : they let everyone in. They lose.
      OR
      Don’t let everyone in at once, and make sure it’s great for the people paying to be there? Oh, lose again?

      Best part : It’s their choice. It’s two people.

      They are doing a blindingly great job, despite opinions on comment threads.

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