I was able to sit down with the new free-to-play first-person shooter, Dirty Bomb. Developed by Enemy Territory and Brink developers, Splash Damage, Dirty Bomb hopes to capitalize on tactical objective-based levels and missions while handling the frantic shooting and almost screen clearing abilities each class potentially has.
For anyone who has played Brink before, it will feel like familiar territory. Each map has specific objectives for each team to accomplish. It could be repairing a convoy while the other team makes sure it is disabled, or gathering samples to bring back to a drop zone. Each time the defending team fails to stop the attackers, the objective then changes and a newer part of the map opens up for players to traverse.
In an interesting MOBA fashion, Dirty Bomb has “heroes” rather than traditional classes. Each character has their own unique abilities to use. Each ability has a certain cool down, so spamming an airstrike over and over is not an option.
Players start off with three characters to use. Everyone has a medic they can bring in as well as a decent striker/support character. In the free to play MOBA style, free characters rotate to others over time. If players are really liking the feel of a certain character, they can purchase them for a full unlock by using coins they have earned through playing or by the old-fashioned, real money option.
The other thing that differentiates itself from others is the card loadouts. Players can purchase cases that contain a card loadout for a random character. There are multiple tiers of cards ranging from lead, iron, and bronze to silver, gold, and cobalt. Each loadout card can contain a different set of weapons as well as offer up special augments and other buffs that can give the player a slight advantage over the competition. These augments could be more ammo capacity, take no fall damage, or a better defense against explosions. There are a ton of them. Lead tier cards have one augment, iron tier has two augments, and bronze has three augments. The higher tiers will always have three augments and look a bit flashier.
The big thing here is it is completely random on which card I would get as well as for which character. Due to this randomness, it can either be a big break for me or another let down. Luckily, the standard cases are cheap in coins and after obtaining numerous cards of the same rarity, I could trade three in to get one for a higher tier for any character I chose. The issue I can see is that players can get higher tiered cases that guarantee to contain silver, gold, and cobalt cards through paying real money. Meaning, I could purchase with real money a case that will guarantee I have three augments while buying the cases with the coins I earned may only offer up a card with only one augment. I hate to use the term, but if Dirty Bomb isn’t careful, this could end up being a “pay to win” scenario.
While the shooting is not as precise and methodical as it is in Counter Strike, I like the feel of it. It’s a nice balance of a twitch shooter and a more arcade feeling game. Utilizing the abilities at the correct moment is both helpful and satisfying. Throwing out an airstrike or a grenade at the right time on a group of enemies can turn the tide in a match. Using a medic to instant revive fallen teammates or throw out an automotive healing device can keep the heavy hitters alive for more attacks. It is very much a team game. Heroes will get killed very quickly.
Since it left closed beta and entered open beta, finding a game easily has been a bit tricky and I really hope they implement a party system for friends rather than forcing a friend to join me mid game. Of course, this is all still a beta for the game. It could be a completely different game once it finally releases for real.
While it has its issues, Dirty Bomb is still a decently fun time especially if you’re into objective-based level design. It has some pay to win concerns that I think can be remedied if looked at soon enough. Still, this is a beta that anyone can try out for themselves, and in that sense, there really is nothing to lose. Give it a shot and see if it is your kind of game. Brink fans that have held on for so long may find what they’re looking for here.