Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One

Since its launch in 2013, the free-to-play military FPS Warface has provided players with fun modes, maps, and gameplay. One of the modes, Plant the Bomb, is a more strategic take on the game’s otherwise fast-paced running and gunning. It requires one squad to infiltrate the enemy base and plant a bomb, and the defending squad is tasked with preventing that from happening. This Plant the Bomb mode has received its own spinoff with Warface: Breakout, a $20 game that improves on the base gameplay of standard Warface but strips down the options to a fault.

The end result is a product you have to pay to play. The entry fee of $20 isn’t too terrible, but it does feel a bit high at this stage in the game’s early life.

Plant the Bomb

Much like Plant the Bomb mode in old school Warface, the gameplay of Warface: Breakout is strictly squad-based. If you’re the attacking team, you’ll have to run into the enemy camp and plant a bomb on one of two designated areas. The player with the bomb is picked at random. If that player is shot down, it’s up to another player to pick up the bomb and plant it.

If you successfully plant the bomb, the round isn’t over yet until one of two things happens. You either must defend the bomb until it detonates, or you have to eliminate the entire enemy squad.

If you’re the defending team, you must prevent all of that from happening. You can either defend until the timer runs out and the round ends or, much like the attacking squad, defeat all the soldiers on the other team.

After a series of rounds, the teams switch, with the attacking team becoming the defending team and vice versa. It’s important to note that downed players cannot be healed and there’s no respawning, so if you go down, you’ll have to wait until the round ends.

Interestingly, you don’t start out with a crazy loadout. Instead, you begin the game with a basic pistol. Performing well during a round gives you currency that you can use to equip better weapons in the next round. If you’re kicking butt, you’ll be able to equip top tier weaponry in just a few rounds. If you survive a round, your loadout carries over to the next round. On the flip-side, if you get taken down, you’ll have to spend whatever points you have to re-equip better guns.

The way Warface: Breakout handles loadouts adds a nice strategic layer to the gameplay. Do you play aggressively right from the start? Do you save your currency to buy the best guns and grenades after three rounds instead of immediately? These are all questions you’ll have to ask yourself on a round-to-round basis.

Speaking of strategy, Warface: Breakout is a much slower-paced game than its free-to-play counterpart. Rushing into the enemy base will surely end badly for you — and potentially your team as they’ll be down one soldier — so it’s best to stick with one or two other players and slowly make your way across enemy lines. Similarly, if you’re defending, you can’t go rogue and expect to Rambo your way through other players.

This more methodical gameplay is what separates Warface: Breakout from other military FPS titles. It works well enough, but with more established options like Rainbow Six Siege available, you may have to ask yourself if this newer tactical FPS is worth it.

Stripped Down but Polished

Admittedly, Warface: Breakout feels a bit barren. With just a single mode, variety is definitely absent here. That’s not all that’s missing, though. While Warface includes multiple classes including riflemen, snipers, engineers, and the Terminator-like SED, Warface: Breakout doesn’t have any of that. Yes, there’s a decent number of guns to play around with, but with no actual classes to distinguish characters, things can start to get a bit repetitive.

Warface: Breakout attempts to supplement its lack of modes with casual and hardcore gameplay options. The latter enables friendly fire and increases the number of rounds played. Outside of that, though, there’s not much to really bulk up the experience.

On the plus side, the shooting in Warface: Breakout feels good. Aiming is tight and responsive, and the guns have a nice weight to them. And while you’ll definitely find your favorite loadout, the different guns all feel unique. No two assault rifles or SMGs are the same. This is great because depending on the map, how you approach each round, and what your specific plan of action is, you’ll be compelled to switch up which guns you use and how your strategy plays out.

Though there are currently only five maps, they’re all pretty good. They’re a decent size and all the maps have a maze-like structure, so you can storm the enemy front in different ways. As the attacker, this makes it so that you can plan out different attack patterns. As the defender, it keeps you alert so that you’re careful not to get jumped by someone who may be lurking around the corner or camping atop a perch.

Evolving Warface

It seems as if Warface: Breakout and standard Warface are going to be kept independent of each other. That’s great, because if you dig what Warface has been doing for years, you can stick with that. It’s arguably the better game thanks to its wider variety of gameplay options and fully realized mechanics. It’s also free, so there’s that. But if you want to get in on what could be the start of something special, Warface: Breakout is decent enough. It’s a hard sell, no doubt, but it’s polished and is expected to receive some major content updates.

One department where Warface: Breakout really outshines the original game is in its visual presentation. The game looks good enough from a technical standpoint, but it’s the aesthetics of the different maps that really stand out. You’ve got cities, pyramids, and docks — and with more maps planned for future release, it’s going to be fun seeing what themes the developers explore in terms of art design.

As far as the audio is concerned, the shooting has a nice strong sound to it that echoes across the entire map. Other than that, though, there’s some pretty generic — although apparently, licensed— electronic music and a bit of bad voice acting.

This early into the game, I would have to say that I’ve enjoyed Warface: Breakout, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. The game feels bare-bones, even though the shooting mechanics are tight and polished. I like the maps, but I wish there were more. I like the guns, but I miss the classes of OG Warface. Yes, the developers have promised that there’s more content on the horizon, including seasonal play, but what’s available now is a bit lacking.

It’s possible that Warface: Breakout will — pardon the pun — break out of the shadow of other tactical first-person shooters like Siege and CS:GO, but right now it’s a pretty basic game with solid shooting gameplay and nice maps but little else. Here’s hoping the game grows and becomes something special because the foundations for it to become exactly that are certainly there.