Finding anything more epic than giant online battles is difficult. Whether it’s the warfare between the Horde and Alliance in World of Warcraft when players duke it out or hopping into a battle royal match in the plethora of games that have popped up in that genre like Fortnite or Warzone. That idea is what caught my attention to do a preview on Beyond the Wire. Redstone Interactive’s hardcore FPS has some great ideas, but while it’s in Early Access, a lot of it is not baked fully and tends to fall flat on the whole realistic World War I combat premise.
I am not the biggest multiplayer guy, but don’t let that fool you for this preview. The more grounded competitive games like Rainbow Six Siege and Battlefield are up my alley. I prefer that to the movement and style of Fortnite and other shooters similar to it. I felt that this could be that rare online war title that will suck me in for intense play sessions. What I expected fell flat, and I did not get the experience I had hoped for based on what I was seeing, reading, and from what I have played in similar types of FPSs.
Beyond the Wire is out in Early Access on Steam.
Gameplay – Explosive, Dirty, and Inconsistently Satisfying
So far, there are two game modes. First, let’s talk about Frontlines, which is reminiscent of Conquest in the Battlefield franchise. Two sides, which consist of the Americans, Germans, French, or British factions, battle it out to control points. When one side conquers a sector, the map focuses further down into a new sector that you and your team must capture. It is a classic for any large scale shooter, but the lack of vehicles or other heavy weaponry outside of some turrets makes it feel lackluster and smaller than it should feel.
Assault is not that much different except one team attacking to capture points while the other must defend. The defenders have much to do to defend. The preparations allow you to get to a good vantage point, but really it’s people walking around waiting for the timer to go off so they can kill or be killed. I found it to be less intense from Frontlines. It has the same issue: no tanks or access to other means of mass destruction, making it feel like an empty battlefield rather than an epic battle of two warring sides.
Like other games in the genre, you can select various classes. In this case, the player roles between riflemen to medic and grenadiers to commanders do not feel much varied. Each plays similarly despite some differences in equipment and purpose. Higher ranking officers can have some advantage to command certain attacks to turn the tides, and medics can revive downed teammates, but it is not impactful enough on the actual gameplay. As long as you are a good shot and can capture points, it did not feel that it mattered who I was playing.
Be aware, playing these roles can be hard to come by as each can have a certain number of players. The heavy gunners not only carry a hefty machine gun, but they are also heavily limited too. Most likely, you will spend most of the time with a bolt action rifle with no scope. There is no accessible way to get what you prefer and no customization to adjust your loadout.
The gunplay is challenging yet satisfying. While the range of weapons is small, but it packs a bunch. Shooting has a weight that feels like shooting a real weapon from this time. The recoil allows for plenty of skill, especially with the hardcore focus making it so that one bullet can be the death of you makes for gunfights that made my heart start racing.
Three maps fill the experience, and while each has distinct aspects, none of it felt like it impacted my experience as the general layout was fairly similar. Zonnebeke had this dreary atmosphere while Frise has some extra vegetation, but it does not have enough personality. Zonnebeke and Ansoncourt are the closest together in similarity, with Frise being the best of the three, but I could easily forget about each one.
A significant aspect of World War I was trench warfare. Walking down the long channels of death was beyond nerve-racking in the best way possible. Most of the time, there was nobody. Even then, I constantly had dirt raining down on me from explosions that were happening mere feet away. On that rare occasion of someone around the corner, it was a heated fight. One of the best moments I had in this Redstone’s FPS was coming around on multiple enemies, only God knows how many, and I fired off my machine gun with hopes that I was killing my foes. I might have many complaints, but damn, it delivers some memorable moments that stick out wonderfully.
Adding to the intensity and horror of warfare, I had a constant sense of danger. When in a full match, or nearly full, you constantly hear explosions and gunfire. I was constantly crouched or prone, thinking a stray bullet would blast my brains out or a grenade would fall right in my lap, killing me instantly.
For an Early Access game, Beyond the Wire is quite polished. I was on high settings, and the frames were soaring high to deliver a buttery smooth experience. I had a few questionable moments, like trying to use an artillery turret, which disappeared into what I can only imagine is another game. Also, even though I was capturing objectives, the scoreboard said otherwise with a fat doughnut. Sorry, but someone owes me some meaningless points to show my team that I was doing something.
Another issue stems from the servers. It is an elementary feeling and lacks enough nuance to filter what I want to play, not that there is much at this point. I do hope as more content arrives, the server browser can match the modern template.
Graphics and Audio – Mixed bag of beautiful and bland
Nothing is done sinfully here when it comes to the look of this game. Beyond the Wire looks just fine, especially as I played on epic settings (its version of ultra, which I toned down a notch to high for those extra-sweet frames). Going for a realistic look while not hitting that high bar of graphical fidelity makes it feel bland, especially as the maps lack any color or interesting structures to enhance the aesthetic. What helps the visuals come in from the lighting, which is not breaking any ground, but it provides a lovely touch to reflect off my gun or shine through windows for some nice screenshots to share on the Gram.
The sound effects are wonky, to say the least. For the most part, it hit the beat it should with booming explosions that are beyond satisfying and beyond any wires I saw. Having dirt fly up and rain down on me in the trenches with this audio was awesome. I hope you have a good sound system or headphones while playing. That said, I had moments where it did not hit at all. When it rained during one match, it did not have any audio and looked ugly. Water falling from the sky silently and looking unappealing took me out of this supposedly immersive battle.
The score is to die for here. Seriously, I was blown away, booting up and hearing the epic orchestra. As I played and turned on the music – which you can turn off if you want nothing but explosions and gunfire – was a different flavor than I heard in the menu. I got a lack of instrumentation and the spotlight shining on a woman singing. Her song was beautiful, but in the backdrop of the first World War, it was one of the most haunting experiences I have had in any video game.
Beyond the Wire was previewed on PC, and a key was provided by Heaven Media.