After five years of Steam Early Access, the full release of Offworld Industries' realitic military shooter Squad is finally here. We've spent some time with the game over the last week to find out if it was worth the wait.
I can't say that I am an avid mil-sim shooter fan but from time to time, I do have a lot of fun with the genre. Particularly, I've enjoyed Rising Storm, Insurgency and Escape from Tarkov, but none of these games come close to what I've experienced in Squad.
Squad is a realistic military shooter from developer Offworld Industries, which has recently left Steam Early Access after five years of development. The final release introduced plenty of new content and changes, so we spent the last week or so with the game to see what exactly Squad's 1.0 release has to offer.
To keep it short and simple, Squad is one of the best, if not the best military shooter that you can play right now. Yes, it has a couple of flaws, especially on the technical side that many players will find frustrating, but it's easy to forgive these issues to a game that has so many different qualities.
In case you haven't guessed it by now, Squad is a super-realistic shooter where one to two bullets will be enough to down the enemy and where strategy, communication and patience are the key to victory. You can't just go all guns blazing in Rambo, dual-wielding machineguns style - Squad is merciless and requires a lot of thinking, observation and planning before you make your move.
You'll need to bond with your squad, communicate and work together to take the objective. Whether you are the first man on the frontlines, a medic patching your mates or a driver responsible for supplying ammo to the team, each player is absolutely vital and must do his part for the team.
Squad certainly is one of the most realistic portrayals of war that I have ever experienced in gaming. Most of my time with the game was spent on the Fallujah map, which seems to be the most popular one at the moment.
The atmosphere here is second to none. Fallujah's cinematic experience where gunshots are echoing around the tight town streets while you're pinned down, under enemy fire during a huge sandstorm is something we got to see only in Hollywood blockbusters such as Black Hawk Dawn or The Hurt Locker. Squad allows us to experience that chaos on our PCs.
Gunplay is another state of the art feature that will satisfy even the biggest critics. Guns feel heavy, hard to control and require quite a bit of skill to learn the kick patterns. Vehicles are no different since you need a full team to operate tanks, APCs and helicopters.
You can't simply jump inside a tank and start running and gunning solo as you would do in Battlefield or Call of Duty. You need a team, a well-coordinated one in order to successfully operate these vehicles.
Squad offers several game modes that you'll find quite familiar since they are usually based around capturing or destroying an objective. The primary and most popular game mode is Advance and Secure and as the name suggests, it requires capturing and holding flags in a preset order. Holding flags rewards your team with tickets while at the same time removes the enemy team's tickets. The team who runs out of tickets first loses the match.
Invasion is another mode that I had a lot of fun with. Here, the attacking team must capture all the flags, which are controlled by the defending team. The goal is to capture all flags and drain the enemy tickets. It's similar to Battlefield's Rush mode so if you enjoy that kind of chaos, Invasion will probably be your cup of tea.
Game modes such as Insurgency, Territory Control and Destruction are not as quite as popular as the two above, at least I could not find a lot of matches with these modes.
Graphics and sounds
Now here's where Squad gets its first con. Graphics are not quite what I expected but I understand that it's not an easy task to create such huge maps with tanks, vehicles, infantry and destruction and make them look detailed and stunning at the same time.
Some maps, like Fallujah, can look great with detailed environments, sharp textures and cinematic weather effects but overall Squad is not the best looking military shooter on the market. That being said, it's also not the worst.
Another thing worth mentioning before we move on to sound is the performance on PC. With Ryzen 3600 and 5700 XT at 1440p resolution, I didn't have a great time. The game struggled to run at stable 60 FPS even on lower settings. This is especially noticeable in GPU and CPU heavy areas with plenty of effects and particles - basically in the heart of combat zones. So yeah, if you are looking to get Squad, keep in mind that the performance is not great.
During my playthrough, I had a fair amount of crashes to desktop, which can be frustrating, especially in the heat of the battle, when every soldier is crucial for the final result. Hopefully, this is something that the devs will work on in the future.
Now, for the highlight of the game - the sound. Squad has, hands down, the best sound effects I have ever heard in a video game. It's simply stunning, it's something that will galvanise you even after dozen and dozens of hours of action. The first time I heard the sound of A10 Warthog strafing run in Squad was one of those "oh, snap!" gaming moments that stay with your forever. It's just that good.
The sound of weapons is as close as it gets to real-life. The distant gunfire, mortar shelling, grenades, RPGs - everything you can get your hands on in Squad just sounds amazing and hats off to developers for such an incredible feat.
If you're a fan of mil-sim shooters you probably know about Squad and have invested hundreds of hours in this gem. However, if you have never played the game before and are looking for something different from your regular multiplayer shooters, something that requires masterful plans, precise execution and most important of all - communication with your team - then Squad is definitely something that should be on top of your list.
Here, you'll fight for each corner and building as your life, quite literally, depends on it. You'll take risks and push your team from the depths of certain defeat to glorious victory. You'll learn about teamwork and the true importance of classes on the battlefield. Sure, Squad is not the first game that offers such experience, but you can bet it's certainly one that does it best.
A massive thank you to Heaven Media for providing us with a PC copy of the game for this review.