Wot I Think – Rising Storm 2: Vietnam

As soon as I peek out over the wall, bullets zip past my head and ricochet off the bricks around me. I duck back down, my screen blurring. I’m pinned down. That is, until the artillery comes down on the enemy trench, its screeches echoed by the cries of the Americans caught in the blasts. I pop my head back up to have a look at the light show and my screen turns black. A second later the kill feed updates. I was shot in the head, apparently.

This ends up happening a lot in Rising Storm 2: Vietnam [official site]. The original Rising Storm, a spinoff from Tripwire’s Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, was an unforgiving shooter and this is no different. Being a beginner in this game is a struggle. You’ll die in one shot, often from an unseen enemy. You’ll kill teammates by accident and get shouted at in chat. But if you’re willing to get over the initial bumps and you’re happy to play it the way it’s supposed to be played, then the payoff is more than worth it.

Matches consist of up to 64 players, and in each of the three game modes involve American and Vietnamese soldiers capturing and holding objective points on large, varied maps. The combat has a wonderful rhythm to it. You push up to cover and hunker down, forming a standoff with the enemy. Then, one man will make a break for it, perhaps under the cover of smoke, and move up to the next cover line while teammates provide suppressing fire from behind. Most of the combat takes place at medium-to-long range until you reach a control point, and then it’s a game of hide and seek as enemies lurk just around the corner, ready to pounce if you dare take more ground.

The mechanics all tie together to create a uniformly tense experience, encouraging a slow pace that makes the bursts of action feel more meaningful. If you’re next to cover, for example, your aim will automatically stabilise, providing you with a clear shot. If enemy bullets whizz too close to your cover spot, you’ll become suppressed, and your soldier’s nerves will disrupt their aim. No matter how calm you are, there’s no aiming reticle and the 30 or so guns all have a lot of recoil, meaning aiming down the sights and burst-firing is a must.

Success is often not about how well you can aim, but about positioning and teamwork. If you get a good angle on an enemy squad you can rack up kills without having to do too much. Flanking is often the best way to overcome the enemy, and because your shots won’t show up on the map you can often find a good spot and keep picking off enemies one by one, which feels excellent.

Even on public servers, I got a real kick out of working as a team, either with squad mates – a team of six that grants some passive bonuses when near to each other – or just with allies who happened to be around me at the time. Without any real communication players will band together and rely on each other to survive. Most of those players will be playing as basic grunts, but there’s a limited number of slots for a variety of classes designed to specialise in a particular role. On the American side, for example, I gravitated towards the Pointman, who takes the lead in fights and uses smokes to provide cover for your team’s advances. Even when I wasn’t getting kills I felt like I was contributing and when it all comes together you feel like part of a well-oiled machine.

Although there’s no tangible progression system (unlocks only gives you cosmetic items, thankfully, which keeps the playing field level), the game does have a learning curve that keeps you pushing on to try new things. Once you’ve mastered the basic roles, you can try being a squad leader and create forward spawn points for your squad mates. Then you can move on to an advanced class like the Sapper, who specialises in setting up land mines and traps. Then – and only when you really know the game – you can try your hand at being a commander.

The commander role is really what defines Rising Storm 2. The commander has a number of abilities that turn the tide of a fight, from calling down napalm to sending up a spy plane that marks all enemies on the map. They fuel Rising Storm 2’s best moments. Getting caught in an enemy artillery strike is genuinely terrifying, and often all you can do is lie hopelessly behind some flimsy cover hoping for the best as the shells rain around you. I shied away from the role on the whole, and when I did try it out I felt a lot of pressure to get it right. Thankfully most commanders know what they are doing and I can probably count on one hand the number of games where a sloppy commander has been the reason for a defeat.

For all the praise I’ve heaped on this game so far, it does have some rough edges. The movement system is a constant source of frustration and I’ve got stuck in the environment on countless occasions. The game can’t decide whether to let you go prone in some spots and you end up in a jerky crouch that you can’t get out of. Vaulting over cover feels imprecise: sometimes the game just won’t let you do it until you’re pointing at a very specific, seemingly arbitrary spot on the wall or fence you’re trying to hop over.

There are a few other niggles: servers failed to load altogether for me occasionally; you can crawl through some solid objects, including your teammates’ bodies; and the Vietnamese voice acting is just painful to listen to. Oh, and the helicopters promised to be a big part of the game? They’re only available in a couple of maps and even there they’re often more trouble than they’re worth because they can be taken out by a single RPG.

There’s also questions about the game’s longevity. At the moment there’s eight maps, and no real weaknesses in the lineup. In other games that would be enough but it doesn’t feel that way here. Because Rising Storm 2 is so reliant on positioning, fights often gravitate towards the same choke points or the same reliable cover spots. You can’t freely roam around because doing so is a good way of getting yourself killed. Therefore the maps feel smaller than they actually are and matches on the same maps often feel very similar. For the first 15 hours or so that’s fine but past that you might find yourself yearning for the variety. That’s especially true in Supremacy mode (where teams battle for a set number of control points over a large area), which only has two maps.

The cynic in me worries that a large portion of the potential player base will either find the game too hard at the beginning – a phenomenon that will only worsen with time as other players gain experience – or sink 20 hours into the game and simply grow bored. More maps are incoming, Tripwire says, and whether the game’s servers remain busy will depend on how well they’re received.

But those issues did not come close to ruining Rising Storm 2 for me. It’s not the most polished shooter but it does shine in all the right places, and it builds on the huge potential of Red Orchestra, which I loved. There are very few games that can match the feeling you get when you watch an artillery strike destroy a treeline and push up with your squad mates under the cover of smoke and deafening explosions. If you’re after a slower-paced shooter with tactical combat and tense moments, then it’s time to enlist.

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam is out now on Windows via Steam and Humble for £19/$25/€23.

34 Comments

  1. zeep says:

    Seriously, the Vietnamese voice acting? Not enough threads about that already..

    • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

      Having not played yet, what’s so bad about it?

      I’m always skeptical of this kind of thing – having lived in Asia for years I’m always hesitant when it comes to people talking about accents, it tends to be from people who think they’re progressive actually being deeply racist; ie. voice actors from the actual country they’re supposed to be from being criticised for sounding like too much of a ‘stereotype’ when that’s actually just what people generally sound like when speaking English, the voice actors are just crap.

      • shaydeeadi says:

        There isn’t anything wrong with it, they got a Vietnamese guy to do announcing duties for the VC side and he sounds like a regular Vietnamese dude. So I believe it’s a stereotype of some sorts?

        Either that or people just find the voice annoying, he sounds fine to me.

        • zeep says:

          That’s what i read too At some point the Vietnamese voice actor commented himself, clearing things up.

          It’s just crazy hype, people repeating what other people are saying. I didn’t expect RPS to jump on that.

          • Rikstah says:

            He may be Viet but the voice acting overall in this game is not as good as the first Rising Storm.

            I mean I still crack up everytime im playing as PAVN / NLF and I hear the way he says “enemy is running out of time”, sounds like a south park voice.

  2. wengart says:

    Movement problems seem to be a bit of a series experience issue. Everyone I play RS2 with haven’t had any troubles with movement like you have had, but we have also played Red Orchestra, Red Orchestra 2, and Rising Storm. So it might be that we are just used to some of the strangeness of the series movement style. It definitely isn’t as smooth as Battlefield.

    The voice acting people also mention quite often, but I’ve read a few times that the VA is actually Vietnamese.

    As the game has gone on the Helicopter gameplay skill ceiling has pushed up a bit. Essentially the Vietnamese team has gotten better at countering them so you need better pilots to use them to their full advantage. Skilled Cobra and Loach pilots can be absolutely devastating and a solid Huey pilot will give the Americans a lot more flexibility. It is much harder just to get in a copter with no experience and do well now though. You definitely need to practice the helicopter while also knowing the map meta to do well.

    • goodpoints says:

      I think you should do some more careful comparison between RS2 and RO2 because to me the cover and movement systems have gotten undeniably worse.

      The system whereby you can peek over cover by aiming has gotten way more inconsistent. So many times I try peeking from a crouch over a trench/bunker wall and it raises my model just for enough for the top of my head to be visible but where I can’t see over the obstacle at all. Cover hitboxes really need to be refined to accurately reflect the texture geometry too. So many times when leaning out from cover the barrel is clearly not obstructed but my shots are blocked.

      Maps with a lot of rocks and tangled foliage like An Lao and Song Be show how wonky the obstacle traversal can be. Using the jump/climb button is frequently nonresponsive and if your crawl is blocked by so much as a pebble, you will often automatically stand up while crawling. Something else related to object collision detection is how finicky going to crouch/prone on top of objects can be. For example: somewhere in the rice paddies on the southern half of Cu Chi there’s a Huey wreck that’s intended to be a bunker where you can crouch behind the cockpit window. Try going on top of the bench seat though, crouching works alright but going prone really messes with the collision detection and you get pushed off a lot.

      • wengart says:

        Our experiences and play styles probably differ in some way then. I haven’t had any issues you are mentioning.

        My suspicion is that we just play in ways that emphasize different parts of the game.

  3. Marclev says:

    Is this multiplayer only?

    I got really interested in this from your opening paragraph or two until it became clear that all of that was online, instead of being part of a single-player campaign.

    • Chaz says:

      Yes, its a multiplayer only game. Think along the lines of the early Battlefield series only with slower gameplay aiming for more of a realistic approach than arcade fun.

    • maxcolby says:

      Basically all teh RO/RS games are MP.
      Rising Storm had a SP version but ti was straight garbage and there only to appease a few.

  4. Antongranis says:

    That suppresion mechanich sounds terrible. Battlefield 3 has something similar, and it does nothing but bad for the game. Not very fun losing a fight due to the game deciding you cant aim…

    • wengart says:

      It isn’t too hampering.

      The two primary results of it are that it is harder to pixel snipe people at 120+ meters when they are firing at you. This is primarily beneficial to LMGs who are putting down suppressing fire. Simply because they are one of the few weapons with enough ammo to keep solid outgoing fire up.

      It also means that in instances where you and an enemy are surprised by each other it is sometimes more useful to shoot early instead of waiting for the perfect shot. It can give you the edge to dive behind cover or throw of their aim enough to give you a better chance.

      • Antongranis says:

        Maybe you should be able to pixel-snipe then, if you have the skills for it. This seems like you are just lowering the skill ceiling with this, at least on an individual level.

        • goodpoints says:

          Suppression mechanics like this are just a paltry attempt to simulate the utility of machine guns. FPS like this need to stop being afraid of taking control away from the players and take a page from wargames and have MORE suppression mechanics like a probability to be pinned based on fire density for players to involuntarily hide behind the nearest cover and become immobilized. How I’d relish the crybaby tears.

          • Imperialist says:

            i think more accurately, that like RO2, the game is simulating the fact that you are just a line soldier, not some fearless automaton. RO2 very specifically stressed the horror and mortality of war…suppression isnt just that, its also a representation of mortal fear. You, as the player isnt fearless. You have no life to lose. Hence why your heart starts pounding when suppressed, and your character makes mewling infantile noises. Because thats what you would do if you were conscripted by the military, given some paltry training, and thrown half a world away into a foreign country, getting shot at by all manner of horrors lurking in the shadows of the jungle.

          • Ham Solo says:

            You cannot simulate that fear.
            It’s just “oh im being shot at, wait i see him, *sniped*”
            That would not be a simulation of the real thing.

        • wengart says:

          You can still hit someone at range. It just requires that you take in mind your positioning.

          Instead of popping up out of cover and firing an accurate shot in the face of heavy fire you need to think about where you will take the shot from.

          You can’t just mindlessly run into fire and hope your faster, well you can but your success rate will be lower than if you thought about where you were walking.

        • MrUnimport says:

          The game aims for realism, and it is a lot easier to pixel snipe in the video game than it is in real life. It was not uncommon for people to score 100m pistol headshots in Rising Storm 1, for example. Since people in video games, unlike people in real life, do not have an instinctive fear for their own life, the developers chose to implement a mechanic that makes suppressive fire count for something.

    • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

      The game didn’t decide you can’t aim – your positioning is poor.

      As Imperialist has implicated, you are a keyboard warrior. Your biggest fear is Cheeto dust or Mountain Dew splashes ruining your ‘W’ key. While you can blat off about the game ‘lowering the skill ceiling with this’ (it isn’t, you seemingly just don’t think tactically and don’t flank), it’s as close to a decent representation of ‘normal guy getting shot at by a heavy machine gun and being terrified’ as you can give to someone who thinks they’re simulating a battlefield scenario and demonstrating ‘skills’ by sitting in their underpants controlling the endlessly immortal by way of plastic peripherals.

      • Antongranis says:

        Easy there! I haven’t actually played the game, its just that other games with this mechanic has not pleased me. Maybe this game actually does it well. I doubt it.

        However, the reason I don’t think the simulated suppression dosent work is the very fact that I am playing a game. I am not my in-game avatar, who is scared for his life. I am me, at the PC, and annoyed at my soldiers inaccuracy. I am actually fearless. There is a disconnect there that makes it not work.

        • maxcolby says:

          You just explained exactly why they need it.

          • Antongranis says:

            Dosent make it less any less annoying. Different strokes for different folks i suppose.

      • Stardog says:

        And the suppression system is broken. It goes through walls way too often.

    • Sound says:

      Something that others haven’t described as well as they might have:
      The skill goal in the Red Orchestra/Rising Storm series isn’t entirely being about becoming faster or more accurate with a mouse or predicting enemy moves nor leading the target just right or evading. It’s not about your proficiency at racking up frags. Indeed, kills aren’t even what determines who wins the round.

      Those factors are game elements, to be sure. But they don’t quite interface with the original differentiating intent:
      This is meant to be a more tactical and team-based shooter, concerned with front lines, cover, timing, coordination, and caution. All in an attempt to capture authenticity that doesn’t exist in other titles. In contrast, other games like the Battlefield series tend to embrace the player as a super warrior, to a significant extent. The player’s individual standard FPS skill is embraced and meant to be a significant element of what determines a winner.

      But the intent for RS2(with the suppression system as a small component) is to define the most successful players by their teamwork and tactics. And the only way you can shift an FPS’ focus in this way is by making stuff like pixel sniping, etc, less impactful, or less reliable, more niche, or more difficult. The game has to present ways to reward you for caution, teamwork, or tactical thinking. Or alternatively, punish you for attempting to bypass tactics, teamwork, caution.

      And that’s where suppression comes in.

      I would tend to agree that suppression in a game like the BF series is not much more of an arbitrary annoyance: It’s a penalty without purpose. BF is not really a team game, not particularly. It’s more of a rambo game, or a sniper game, or a solid snake game. You do your thing to the best of your ability, and the game rewards it fully – it wants you to be an effective Rambo. The broader game system is not built around team reliance or front lines or tactics. Or at least, that intention is not well executed upon.

      But RO/RS isn’t like that. And suppression has a very clear and motivated design purpose. In practice, I think you’d not mind it so much. Assuming, that is, that you approach the game on it’s terms rather than attempting to play it like a Lone Hero.

  5. Scare Tactics says:

    I’ve put 52 hours into RS2, which also includes some hours clocked during the open beta phase.
    I’m having a blast, it’s a fine successor to RS1. Movement can indeed be clunky sometimes, I guess it’s thanks to the Unreal engine powering it. I got used to these quirks, not that they’re THAT annoying anyway, except for those rare moments where you end up dead because of it maybe.

    The voice acting…well, the only gripe that I have with the vietnamese voice actor is that he doesn’t get the emotions quite on point.
    But it never occurred to me that the accent could be fake, even before finding out that the guy recording those lines is indeed vietnamese. Or worse, faking the accent to a degree that it is derogatory towards vietnamese people. Must be because I’m German and thus have built-in detectors for poorly impersonated accents, I dunno.

    But yeah, the game. Great fun. ArmA with its hardcore realism has always put me off somehow, talking about clunky movement..while Call of Battlefield was too arcadey while trying to be serious about what it is, so RS2 is the perfect middle ground for me.

    And yes, it desperately needs more maps, but taking the past community involvement in Red Orchestra or Rising Storm into account, I’m confident the map pool size will increase in due time.

    • Stardog says:

      The poor movement isn’t due to the Unreal engine. Why would it be? It’s because they’ve implemented some dynamic IK system instead of just doing a basic style movement like in 99% of other FPS’s.

      Because of this, other FPS’s feel solid, whereas this feels janky.

  6. Lord of Beer says:

    It needs campaign mode and more maps pronto. They should drop the silly conquest-knockoff mode and just focus on territories, the bread and butter of the series.

  7. Premium User Badge

    john_silence says:

    Happy this got it’s WIT and happy it’s a positive one (not to mention it conveys the feeling of the game spot-on).

    The mix of hardcore mil-sim accouterments and satisfying tactility (in spite of the somewhat treacly movement) makes the game for me.

    For once it’s well worth watching the tutorial videos; the use of explosives in particular is more involved than first appears, and adequate deployment yields double the opportunities for nuisance :)

  8. Ham Solo says:

    The vietnamese guy doing the vietnamese voice overs is a problem, how exactly?
    Think he sounds too vietnamese?

  9. Blacksilver65 says:

    I hope they add in native languages like they had in Red Orchestra 2. Regardless if the voice actor is Vietnamese or not, it’s not a very good performance. I’d rather just have them speak in Vietnamese. Give my immersion! Screaming grenade seems pretty similar in many languages and that’s all I need!

    • Ham Solo says:

      I agree with native language option, would be alot more immersive. Maybe leave in “I KILL YOU G.I.” as insult. I think that yelled towards enemies is very immersive, too.

      • Blacksilver65 says:

        Yeah I would agree with that. I was happy when I first found that option. The German accented English just didn’t do it for me.

  10. Sound says:

    My sole significant gripe:
    The maps are messy and chaotic, and makes a steady front line(and the teamwork that relies upon it) much more fleeting than with RS and RO2

    It’s much, much more difficult to move and act as a group due primary to the unclear and fractured layouts. I’m sure this subsides with friends utilizing lots of voice chat. But in public games, teamwork took a big hit. It would arise naturally, to a pretty good extent, in anonymous public games in the prior titles, but I haven’t seen it emerge here.

    In Red Orchestra2, the group could organize a defense and a push, time it with artillery and smoke, call for more help at a certain flank. All in a public server. Also true in Rising Storm, though less easily.

    In Rising Storm 2, you’re lucky if your squad even moves in the same direction. And I don’t think time and experience will change this all that much.