New tricks come with the territory

The major gameplay additions ETQW brings to the table include fully drivable vehicles, deployables, asymmetrical gameplay and bots. Many other existing gameplay mechanics were further changed but these won’t be perceptible unless you’ve played Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory more than a couple of times.

Although you could escort vehicles in Wolfenstein, in ETQW you can drive them anywhere. Unlike in most other games vehicles are rarely overpowering: you can’t complete objectives from inside a vehicle, maps feature a lot of indoor sections and every weapon can damage any vehicle. If a group of mates concentrates their machine-gun fire they can bring down the biggest ones in the game. You can also shoot wheels off so that a vehicle will be disabled or with restricted movements. Some characters can also disable vehicles with EMP grenades while others can deploy anti-vehicle turrets.

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Speaking of which, the biggest improvement on the core ET game in my book is deployables, like radar, anti-personnel turret or the rocket artillery, which add a real-time strategy flair to the game. Will you buff up your base to soften up attackers? Will you deploy them near the front-lines to maximise their usefulness but leave them more vulnerable?

Only three classes can call deployables and each character can only have one deployable at any given time. If you switch classes your deployable is destroyed and you can only place them in friendly territory (that’s why it becomes so important to conquer enemy territory). While vehicles are fun and the asymmetrical gameplay is clever, deployables add depth to your whole gaming experience.

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Whereas in most team-based games the factions are equal when it comes to gameplay, ETQW gives you two different teams with disparate core mechanics, gadgets and vehicles. Even the list of possible objectives change depending on the team you’re in. For instance, the Strogg don’t have any specific vehicle escort objective while the humans will never get to destroy an objective with a remote flying drone. The humans have conventional weaponry which will be familiar to anyone while the aliens’ doesn’t need reloading; in another example, the Strogg can transfer ammo to health and vice-versa (X-Wing fans will remember this mechanic).

Some classes are very different too: the human medic can use the shock paddles to instantly revive a fallen comrade or call in a supply drops. The Strogg “medic” takes around 5 seconds as he repairs his metal buddy; on the other hand he can transform a human corpse into a spawn host for the next Strogg wave letting you spawn closer to the action. There are many such differences throughout and the game really feels different depending which team you play for. If you find yourself playing the same way in either team, rest assured you’re not using all your team has to offer.

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I have found the bots to be reasonably competent given the complexity of the game. They accomplish objectives, drive vehicles, use/defend/attack deployables, and support other team members. They still have some problems like getting stuck in geometry, “cheating” when you turn their difficulty to the max and have a tendency to avoid getting into the same vehicle as you. Regardless, ETQW was meant to be played online against real people so you should only consider bots when your connection is down.