Insurgency: Sandstorm – How to Make a Sequel

Last time I reviewed a game called Insurgency, and I talked about how it managed to bring realism onto the table. After a few months, the sequel, Insurgency: Sandstorm was released. It came with a 25% off sale for anyone who already owns Insurgency, and I couldn’t  resist buying the game, since I enjoyed the first one so much. So how did this game differ from its prequel? Well, there were certainly many of differences which affected the game in both positive and negative ways.

The first notable change is that the size of the map got way bigger compared to the original version of the game. In Insurgency, most of the map took place in urban locations, like markets or embassies, which made battle more close-combat oriented, limiting the use of marksmen and snipers. However, in Insurgency: Sandstorm, the battle takes place mainly in a large town, which allows players to have new experiences that are similar to the prequel but different at the same time. The game also brings another change that goes along with the new style of maps, and that is the new class and faction system. In the previous game, the role of classes were mainly defined by the weapon, and everything else was basically the same; for example, in the last game the difference between a sniper and a breacher was that the sniper can use sniper rifles and DMRs (Designated Marksman Rifles), while breachers cannot. However, in Insurgency: Sandstorm, each class now has synergy and different stats. If you are a support, you are more resistant to suppressive fire, and if you are commander and there are radiomen nearby, you can call in an airstrike, and so on. Combined with the larger map mentioned above, the sequel allows players to make more strategic choices which make the gaming experience more enjoyable.

Also, the difference between the security force and the insurgent force has been developed compared to the last game. In Sandstorm, the security force now has access to all the weapons including insurgents’, and the security force has better gear support like the ability to call in airstrikes or helicopters. The insurgent force now has new chemical weapons, which can clear out the entire enemy squad if used properly, as well as armored trucks equipped with mounted machine guns which allow for quick travel; although, the security force can also drive the vehicle after they kill the driver. There are tons of balance changes: Firstly, the game doesn’t have ammo types, which make pistols useless in most situations, as well as tons of new gun attachments, like extended magazines, muzzle brakes, different sights, etc. And since they added a bunch of new gadgets and attachments, players receive more credit to purchase gear compared to the last game. And last but not least, there are some new gaming mechanics, one notable one being that, now you have the option to open a door or you can kick it open, which could stun any enemy behind the door. The new game also added a quick reload option, where you can throw away your current magazine and equip a fresh magazine, whereas normal reloads will keep all the ammo in the current magazine and can be used later, but it is way slower compared to quick reload. The game also added a way for players to check ammo, since it was one of the reasons why the game had a very steep learning curve.

Along with all these new changes, what is good about this game? Well, firstly, everything newly introduced to this game like the new class system and larger map make gameplay more interesting in comparison to the prequel. For example, the new class system allows players to formulate new tactics which makes game more interesting, and the larger map allows long range combat more frequently, which also provides players with more enjoyable experiences. Also, the developers tried to lower the entrance level of difficulty for the game so that new players can join, notably by adding the ammo checking mechanism, where a player can press the reload key for long time, and the game will show roughly how much ammo is left in your magazine. This type of implementation is clever because it managed to lower the entrance level of difficulty, while also maintaining the game’s realism.

However, games are not always perfect, and this game is no different. Even though the developers tried to lower the entrance level of difficulty, it still feels high for most people, since realism increases the difficulty significantly, and as mentioned above, the newly added attachments along with the increased amount of credits requires users to make effective choices to spend credit within a limited time, and this can be confusing. However, these problems are situational, where players can spend some time and get better on.

Currently, Insurgency: Sandstorm has two major issues related to the game content-wise. The first is the programming of enemy bots. Bots in Insurgency: Sandstorm are ridiculously broken; they seem to have aimbots, since there are multiple reports where bots managed to headshot players consistently despite the distance, even if they are flashed or smoked, which sometimes makes you wonder if you are fighting insurgents or an army full of John Wicks.

Another issue is the optimization of the game. While I was playing the game, I experienced several FPS (frame per second) problems; I usually get 40-50 fps during normal gameplay, but if something explodes, my FPS goes down to 10 or below. I don’t think that the developers were trying to realistically implement the shellshock in-game, and in case you are wondering if my PC is just a potato PC, my PC specs meet the official lowest requirement stated on the official site. However considering this game only came out in December, the problems appear to be just bugs which the developers are working on.

In conclusion, Insurgency: Sandstorm managed to keep the good content of its prequel and introduce new experiences to new and old players alike by adding new content. Insurgency: Sandstorm could be described as an ideal game sequel. So would it be worth buying? Of course, if you enjoy FPS games in general, go buy it. I guarantee it will be worth the price.