I’ve been a lover of the First Person Shooter games for a long time. Back in the days, I used to play Battlefield 2. That’s when my love for this genre began. But two things I always wanted in these games, are proper teamwork, and a little bit of realism. That’s where the Tactical Shooter genre comes in. Insurgency Sandstorm is a tactical First Person Shooter, released in 2018, that has the realism in it, but the gameplay, especially the gunplay comes first. In this post, I’ll try to explain what this game is all about, and help you decide if you should buy it or not.
Insurgency Sandstorm is a First Person Tactical Shooter, developed by New World Interactive, set on a Middle-Eastern theme, that costs only 30$ on Steam. I have been playing this game for 6 days, and I’m loving it. This game has brought realism into a form, which is accessible to casuals. Insurgency Sandstorm does an amazing job of having the sense of realism, but still avoiding the complicacies of Military Simulation games. The game feels more along the lines of Battlefield, than Military Simulation games, like ARMA, or Squad. This game has the intensity of Battlefield, the realism of ARMA, and a simple, but good enough weapon customization system. Sandstorm is one of the most unforgiving, and skill based shooters out there, where teamwork wins the match. This game runs on Unreal Engine 4, which is a huge leap from Insurgency 2014, which ran on the aging Source Engine.
You really need to be fast in reacting and focus on the game if you don’t want to keep dying. The game has 4 versus (PvP) game modes, and 4 CO-OP (PvE) game modes. You also have the competitive mode. Domination is probably the most casual friendly game mode, where you have infinite respawns, and you can have all the weapons, no matter what team you’re on. In other game modes, you have to wait for the respawn wave in order to be able to respawn. In all game modes, you have to capture objectives. The objectives are like flags from capture the flag from other titles. These objectives play a major part of the game.
Sandstorm has one of the best gunplays out there. The bullets go where you aim your gun. Unlike most other games, the bullet is spawned at the barrel of your gun, not the camera. In this game, your hands don’t move with the camera, they move a little bit faster than that. This might sound weird, but feels amazing in-game. If you have played Rising Storm 2, you know what I’m talking about. This system also brings a learning curve. Most of us are acquainted with Call of Duty, of battlefield like systems, which means that the bullet goes to the center of the screen. As a result, my bullets don’t hit the enemy. But I’m gradually familiarizing with the system, so I’m missing fewer shots. A lot of times, I’ve died, because I aim my camera at the enemy, not my gun. After all these, there’s no crosshair. I know, crosshairs are staples in First Person Shooters. But you don’t have a crosshair at the center of your eye sight if you’re running with a gun in real life. You wouldn’t enjoy playing this game with one anyways. However, you can attach a laser to your gun which makes up for the crosshair.
The movement in this game also feels fluid. There’s realistic magazine management. You can’t just reload after every shot. The game doesn’t show you how many rounds you have left. Rather, there will be some bars on the HUD to let you know about the amount of ammo left on each of your magazines. If you reload halfway through a magazine, that magazine will be stored, and you can actually use that later on. If you do something that cancels the reload animation midways, you will be left with a gun that has no magazine in it. But still, you can fire one round from the chamber. You can continue the reload after that. Another thing I must mention, is the time to kill. Two, or three well placed shots are all it takes to kill an enemy. There is a huge amount of recoil, which forces you to fire in bursts, not just spray. In fact, one of the loading screen tips says, “Losers just spray and pray, but the winners fire in short-controlled bursts”.
The AI’s in this game are literal Faze Clan pros. They might miss the first shot, miss the second shot, and then hit a headshot in the third one. You simply can’t take them as a grain of salt. They can really give you a challenge. I love playing with them in the night maps, where you cannot use your scope while wearing night vision. You have to depend on the laser.
The sound in this game is just, amazing. Starting from the gun sounds, to the explosion, to the movement, everything feels in place, and it feels solid. Every time there’s an explosion near you, but you somehow survive, you get flashed for a moment. This adds a fine bit of immersion, and intensity to the gameplay. Every time you reload, you see an enemy, your character calls out. The 3d audio also works incredibly well. The enemies can hear you talking if you’re near them. When you hold down V for voice chat, all your teammates can hear you. However, enemies nearby can hear you too. So you sometimes have to be cautious of the information you’re giving away.
The effect of the learning curve
Your first few hours in this game will be like your first few hours in any Battlefield game, but will be harder. You will keep dying, and dying. But this goes away soon enough. 17 hours into the game, I’m still a noob. You really have to grind to get good. But still, this game doesn’t get boring.
Player Base, Servers, and Optimization
Insurgency Sandstorm is a 2 year old game, but still there is a really active player base. The players aren’t very toxic either. Yes, you will find some people that are toxic, but other than that, it’s just fine. There are six regions in total, Europe, US West, US East, Asia, Australia, Russia, and South America. If you’re an English speaker, I’d suggest you not to play in Russia and South America regions as you might find people that don’t speak English. The game is pretty well optimized I’d say. I play at the highest settings at 1080p at 60 FPS. However, it sometimes drops to 40-50.
Things I don’t like about Insurgency: Sandstorm
I talked about all the good stuff. It’s time for the bad. Although there are very few things I don’t like about this game, I still want to share my perspective about them. In this game, you have the option to use 1x or 2x sights. The 2x sights are literally the 1x sights with a magnifier attached. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, you can’t actually flip the magnifier up or down, like you can do in real life. Sometimes, you might want to switch between the 1x and 2x sights. This is something that should’ve been there. Other than that, there are some minor bugs, such as, vaulting while sprinting is broken. And campers are a problem in some maps. Other than that, the game is just fine.
If you are bored from playing Call of Duty and Battlefield, and want something else, or just want something a little realistic, Insurgency Sandstorm might just be the game for you. I recommend having a group of people to play with if you can. If not, that’s fine. You still can enjoy the game alone. This game is not a military simulation by any means. If you want military simulation, and a slow paced gameplay, don’t get this game. Get this game if you want something like a realistic, fast paced gun n’ run shooter. As long as you don’t expect over the top graphics, the game will just feel fine. The graphics hold up, and look pretty great. . At the price of 30$, it offers a lot of content. Again, the game isn’t Pay to win by any means. In the end, Insurgency Sandstorm is an amazing First Person Shooter, which truly does something that no other game tries to. So it’s in a sweet spot by itself.