Among the huge number of people who like to shoot each other in virtual worlds, there is a division of particularly skilled fighters. They keep themselves apart in such projects as Arma 3 or Escape from Tarkov, navigate the terrain without markers and maps and calculate enemies by sound. Even if you are not among them, but would like to try your hand at something similar, you should definitely take a look at the Squad project – a cooperative war simulator from Canadian developers.

  • Developer: Offworld Industries
  • Publisher: Offworld Industries
  • Release date: September 23, 2020

The sessional shooter Squad is something between the popular Battlefield line of military action games and the Czech combat simulator Arma. The developers have organized realistic conflicts with a low entry threshold and quite intense gameplay. If you had a chance to feel the Project Reality mod, you will understand what we are talking about.

The game has no storyline as such, which in general does not prevent the fighters from saturating themselves with patriotic spirit, hating enemy chevrons and dramatically throwing themselves under a hail of bullets to get their neighbor out of the clutches of the bony one. The atmosphere of the game is so intense that categorically fades any competitor.

The generally down-to-earth graphics are perfectly equalized by impressive backgrounds, well-designed weapons, and very nice explosion animations. When your squad crossing a desert plateau is suddenly hit by artillery fire, or a mortar shell crashes into one of your convoy of trucks, or enemies besiege your base, reinforcing their intentions with airstrikes, Squad greets you with a terrifying symphony of war.

You lie huddled on the ground, stunned by the screams of less fortunate comrades, while the ground around you is torn apart by the merciless fires of death. And all of this is as well voiced as it is drawn. It is the sound and visual representation that is responsible for the immersive authenticity of the show.

However, there is another element without which Squad would not be so complete – constant communication. The core essence of the game comes down to the cooperative component, and this in turn requires each player to be as involved as possible, including participating in the voice chat. Most locals ignore text chat, and the lack of a microphone can be considered bad form and even expelled from the game.

Intriguingly, all fighters move their lips when the players controlling them say something. It seems like a small thing, but it really pumps up the immersion effect when you, for example, drive together in the back of a truck and discuss upcoming maneuvers.

And don’t feel too bad about the community. Contrary to my doubts, the vast majority of Squad old-timers take the process seriously no matter what language they speak.

Most fights are 50/50 on stable servers with varying rules and language restrictions. It’s easy to find the right one at any time of day or night – the servers are bursting with players, sometimes you have to wait in a small queue, and some of them allow you to donate for VIP status with permanent access without waiting (though at the expense of some other player).

At the start, players are assigned to roles and squads. Most specializations are available only if there are several people in the squad, and even they are limited in number, so you will have to forget about the army of heavy machine gunners or medical battalion. The main role goes to the leader of the unit – he not only coordinates his wards, but also erects gathering points and even initiates the construction of field bases – places for revival.

Often such structures become strategically important areas that need resources and modifications. Radio towers and supply facilities are deployed there, fortifications are built, and ammunition boxes are placed. Players can collectively build an entire stronghold if ordered to do so, but there is usually not enough time to do so.

The squad leader has access to the “officer” communication channel. There are three of them in the game: command, for nearby fighters and for squad leaders. Maps display the necessary information, including the location of allied players, markers with tasks and sometimes players mark positions where the enemy has been spotted.

However, this doesn’t make it any easier – most often the enemies are mobile, ambush will be waiting for you behind any hill, every building can be a death trap, and the most obvious road will be booby-trapped. Players who take control of vehicles should be perfectly oriented on the terrain, be ready to take the first blow on the armor of their BMP and be responsible for the lives of people on board the helicopter.

The release version of the game features twenty maps of varying size and content, as well as several game modes, with gameplay mostly revolving around capturing or defending strategically important points, destroying or defending weapon caches.

Weapons, as well as other equipment like medical kits or grenades, are tied to a specific class and each faction has its own. To prevent players from accidentally killing each other, the allied icon is still taken into account here, which appears above the target’s head when you aim at a fighter running in the distance. But it certainly won’t insure you from players who shoot before they think.

The project is not devoid of annoying bugs – from texture problems and random frame drops to outright flaws. For example, the game sees not all ports with a headset connected to them or refuses to load certain objects. There are incidents with vehicles, like getting stuck or flying, but we’ve definitely seen flying tanks somewhere before. Also, despite the rather simple visuals, Squad is still demanding on hardware.

It’s nice to realize that in the FPS-game environment there is a project that can unite fans of shooters of different categories, because after all, the majority of Battlefield fans are primarily attracted to combat simulation. And if Arma may seem overly sophisticated for them, then Squad can handle each of them.

Perhaps, local heroes do not rush with a knife to the tank and do not destroy the entire enemy army from a single sniper position, but they give the last bandage kit to a dying comrade, maneuver under fire by helicopter to save the squad suppressed by fire, go into the rear of the enemy fortress to barter their lives as favorably as possible and take care of their charges, because the success of the entire operation depends on them.