Tripwire is set to release a new free content pack for Rising Storm – the Pacific Theatre cousin of Red Orchestra 2 – and it's called Island Assault. The name implies much. I had a play with it over the weekend, and I'll tell you about that experience, below. (There's a trailer, too!)
Red Orchestra 2 (and subsequently Rising Storm) represent some of the toughest and most rewarding multiplayer FPS combat available on the PC right now. The historic battles are tough as nails, on meticulously crafted maps, and players are challenged with realistic, tricky weapon handling, and brutal, rapid death. As such it's a fine game for a committed multiplayer FPS player, even if it did mean that I got completely stomped by Rising Storm veterans in the first couple of rounds of my hands-on with Island Assault.
So yes, details: the core of this update is a campaign thinger that reminds me of the dynamic campaign mod for Men Of War. Basically it allows the two sides to play through a series of maps, making for a larger contest over time. The winning teams vote on which territory to attack, and territories give resources, which count towards overall victory. It's a minor strategic flourish, but it adds to a story level that the game lacked. This feature was apparently always intended for RO2 itself, but got cut before release. The side-effect of this mode is that the historically accurate situations on the maps can now be reversed, and the Japanese can find themselves attacking in what would have previously been an American assault.
This new mode means that players can settle into a full afternoon's worth of a campaign, lasting up to about seven hours. I can see a few hardcore folks doing this, but it's equally possible for this to run on public servers and for folks to drop in and out.
There's a new map in this bunch, based on the island of Betio. This, historically, was the scene of horrible conflict during the battle of Tarawa. The US forces have to attack to knock out key defences on the island. I had a play of this and found the brutal, devastated terrain to be tough going indeed.
Stuff like Island Assault makes me wish I had more time for multiplayer shooters. It reminds me just how much cool content gets crafted for these games, content that it best appreciated by really settling in and getting good at the game. There's a bunch of refinements coming in this update that will be best appreciated by long-term RO2 and RS players, too, such as new weapons, as well as changes to movement, recoil, and other nods to realism – stuff that sets these games apart from even the likes of Arma. That sim might seem realistic and brutal, but the experience of playing through an evening of RS knocks the breath out of you. That's the hard stuff.