Insurgency: Sandstorm looks genero but goodo


For a long time while watching this Insurgency: Sandstorm trailer, I thought its great innovation was to do with context dependent AI barks that swear at guns a lot. Then I thought I must be listening to actors pretending to be players in that cringingly E3 demo sorta way. Then I realised that devs New World Interactive were attempting to sidestep that by paying actors to pretend they were actual combatants, and creating a strange hybrid of the two. I’ve been listening to people pretending to be people that people in the future might pretend to be, but without the silly pretence.

Game marketing is weird, but Sandstorm itself is the opposite: it’s an upcoming team based shooter that revolves around tactics, realism and impressive sound design. The original Insurgency passed me by, probably because it looked just as generic as this one. Dear old Adam got his hands on Sandstorm earlier this year though and called it a “goddamn work of art”, so my shoulders have stopped shrugging and started quivering with excitement.

So what we’ve got here is a 16 v 16 multiplayer FPS, with an AI hunting mode that goes up to 8 players. In the dev’s words, it’s a “hardcore depiction of combat with deadly ballistics, light attack vehicles, destructive artillery, and unprecedented audio design putting the fear back into the genre”. I’d be inclined to take the last of those words with hefty doses of salt, but they actually do an uncanny job of capturing Adam’s impressions:

“There are so many things I love about Sandstorm that I could go on for another thousand words. It’s my ideal balance of realism and accessibility, and it all comes down to the way every moment of excitement is also a moment of fear. Checking a clip when your ammo is close to running dry and knowing that the second it takes to do so could be your last, wondering whether all of that noise and violence is capable of penetrating the wall you’re cowering behind, hearing a cry of “gas!” from somewhere up ahead.”

New World originally planned to include a story campaign, but wound up dropping it so they could focus on multiplayer. They’ll revisit the idea after Sandstorm comes out.

I know I just said this flippantly, but it’s worth repeating seriously: I’ve gone from having next to no interest in this to itching for it be under my fingers. Adam talks about how much he loved it despite multiplayer military shooters not really being his thing – and by golly, they are mine. I didn’t think I needed another, but if this is good enough to make Adam say “I want to play it forever”, then there’s a real chance I actually might.

Insurgency: Sandstorm will be out on an as yet unannounced date in September for £23/$27/€27, and you can wishlist it on Steam.

Check out our E3 2018 tag for more announcements, trailers, news, and goodness knows what else.


  1. Komsomol says:

    I play Insurgency and I don’t know why this exists. It looks nearly identical with the gimmick of customising your soldier added…

    • The_Hunter says:

      Better engine, better graphics…

    • SirDeimos says:

      Wow, such edge. Apart from the many obvious reasons of why it exists… they are also adding the ability to call air support, introducing drivable vehicles, and they stated that they’ve improved the AI for co-op. The original is excellent. If this version builds on that game through lessons learned and with new tools, and is offered with a loyalty discount, what exactly is the problem?

  2. Shadrach says:

    I played and enjoyed the original Insurgency mod, and liked the (rare) instances where actual teamwork and tactics were used.

    I see little tactics in that video though, mostly twitcy solo ramboing around, and I have zero interest in that type of gameplay.

    • SirDeimos says:

      This was a trailer that came out during E3 week… wait until the devs actually do some playthroughs that showcase strategies and tactics. Based on their posts, they are not changing the teamwork focus in this game.

  3. Yasha says:

    Generic? Please. Insurgency was genre defining. It started as a half-life 2 mod and came out at a time when realistic shooters were absent from the gaming scene altogether (ArmA2 and Red Orchestra being notable exceptions). The standalone was simply a more fleshed out version of the 2007 mod – it was great, so I am excited about Sandstorm.

    • The_Hunter says:

      Generic in the sense that it has no immediate identity to someone who doesn’t already know what it is.

      The majority of people who glanced at an Insurgency screen shot would have no idea what it is.

      It’s the best “modern combat” shooter because it feels so great, not because it looks unique.

  4. smisk says:

    I love the original game because it has a good balance of realism and teamwork without being obtuse, but I’m still not sure how this differs.. My initial impression was that it’s just an expanded and prettified console port? I’ll probably pick it up since I got the first game for like $10 and will be glad for an excuse to jump back in.

    • smisk says:

      Also love how straightforward the game is – no unlockables or currency, everyone has access to the same equipment and you choose your loadout by spending points on each weapon or attachment you want. Always felt well balanced.

      • SirDeimos says:

        Agreed. There’s something refreshing about the “straight to the fun” aspect that happens when a shooter doesn’t have unlocks or skill trees to min/max.

  5. Ham Solo says:

    Insurgency generic? Are you high? One of the more important games in the “semi-realistic shooter” genre.

  6. DudeshootMankill says:

    Insurgency is effing great. The gunplay, the sounds and the coop with buddies is top notch.

  7. MrUnimport says:

    I’m not convinced this is the next big thing for “realistic” military games. How does it stack up next to the Rising Storm games, Squad/Post Scriptum, Project Reality, etc.? Can we get someone who’s played other titles in the genre to do a compare and contrast?

    • reptilianbrain says:

      Rising Storm 2 is, unfortunately (soo unfortunate!), a failed successor to amazing RO2 and a bit less amazing but still great RS1. RS2 was easily my most anticipated game of the last few years and I haven’t launched for a few months. Instead of building on top of what brought RO2 a dedicated following and a cult status, developers went towards more casual, as they thought, variation – smaller maps, faster rounds. So, pretty much CoD. Except that the casual interest went towards bigger maps, 100+ people engagements crowned with PUBG’s success. Now RS2 is just a tired shooter that could be, running on the 5 yearold engine contaminated by even older game dynamics.

      Squad is great and does scratch the realistic shooter itch, but the experience is heavily dependent on the team and your willingness to half-role-play the role of an infantry dude. Do you want to hang out in the ambush for IRL 5-7 minutes (it feels like a loooong time) and then pixel-hunt the bushes for enemies? If you are, it will deliver experience that will awaken the private ryan / black hawk down memories in you. It is also 100% dependent on having experienced and non-psychotic squad lead or being able to be one. If all the parameters are satisfied, squad it great. But even then it’s no shooter in a sence CS or Insurgency or RO2 is – you don’t need to be really good at basic FPS skills to win engagements there, Squad is tactical through and through.

      Is Project Reality still around?

      Insurgency is the greatest semi-realistic one-shot-one-kill, skill-based medium-to-closed quarters shooter of the last 5+ years, no contest. If Ins2 can just upgrade the graphics and tighten up some mechanics and add some tricks here and there to make it feel more modern, it’s going to be The realistic shooter.

    • Cloak says:

      You’re right it’s not realistic at all. Just take the insurgency before this, at first you play it slow and it feels tactical, after awhile I ran around like it was COD.

  8. Cloak says:

    I wonder if it will have mods and then turn into a standalone.

    So why did they make a completely separate game from the insurgency they had before? When they could have just upgraded the engine and add the story as a dlc or something. These developers have totally lost me as a customer and whatever respect I had for them. I hope this game fails, which it probably will because I felt nothing from the video. I wouldn’t put it passed them to make a mod off this game and then it turns into a b2p and then turns into a separate game. Modception.

  9. Jerkzilla says:

    I think the tactics aspect of Insurgency and RO are kind of overstated, compared to Project Reality and even competitive CS:GO. There’s a lot of tension, but I’ve rarely experienced people actually communicating with each other.
    There’s clearly a compromise here though, the more you have to work together to win, the more you are dependent on having decent teammates (something mostly out of your control), else your experience is going to suck big time.

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