Gray Zone Warfare Preview: This might be my new favorite shooter

April 20, 2024 by No Comments

I was lucky enough to have access to an exclusive closed playtest for Gray Zone Warfare, the brand new, open-world first-person shooter being developed by MADFINGER. I knew plenty about ‘GZW’ going into it, but nothing really got me going. From the moment I booted up Gray Zone Warfare (and got over some teething issues), I was overwhelmed by the sheer potential of this ambitious, multi-genre title.

It’s not quite an extraction shooter and not quite a tactical FPS title. It’s not quite an open-world action title, and it’s not quite a cooperative survival game. It’s everything at once, wrapped up in a neat package that’s equal parts attractive on the surface and deep beneath.

Gray Zone Warfare ticks all my boxes

Recently, I caught up with MADFINGER’s Rick Lagnese to learn all about Gray Zone Warfare and the creation of this impressive title. There are so many things to talk about, it’s almost impossible to know where to start. First, there’s the game’s core engine and gameplay loop — players are charged with venturing into a vast, open world and completing tasks, battling other players and AI-powered enemies, and successfully returning to their base with their loot. Killed in action.

That’s where the ‘extraction shooter’ element comes into play. Players control a customizable PMC and gear up at their base before boarding a chopper and flying wherever they want to a designated ‘LZ’ on the map – and that’s just the beginning of freedom. Once their boots hit the field, players can do whatever they want without the burden of a time limit. They have to manage their health, inventory, hydration and energy – which ticks the survival-oriented box – but if they can keep safe and secure, they can theoretically stay in the open world forever.

After they’ve completed their tasks, or if they’re on the brink of death and desperate for a way out, players can go to an LZ, call a chopper, and return to base using vendors, an equipment stash, and various other mechanics.

Tick, tick, tick.

  • Open world environment
  • Customization items (clothing, equipment, loadout)
  • A serious fight
  • Team-based gameplay (but you can also play alone)
  • Many missions (big and small)
  • An interesting story/legend
  • Realism (gun play, ballistics, physics, weather, lighting, foliage

Immersive isn’t even a word

I started my Gray Zone Warfare session in my PMC base, which is permanently staffed by AI guards. Using the interface, I placed my fighter on a variety of devices – almost all of which would be recognized by Escape from Tarkov fans. There’s no escaping the comparisons – a lot of inspiration was taken from Escape from Tarkov, but why not? It is the spearhead of the extraction shooter genre.

I chose a quest to scout some areas of a nearby town, clicked on the LZ to spawn a little bird ‘taxi’ and waited for it to land. While I was waiting at the helipad another player joined me and we got to talking. Everything in the gray zone was in real time, so we watched the chopper fly over, land, and then we took off. It flew by, getting us to our destination with no loading screens or transitions, and en route, we used VOIP to chat with each other over the roar of the chopper engine.

When we hit the ground, we waved goodbye to each other and went our separate ways. That’s where the fun started for me. When I went into town, I found many dead bodies. The gray zone is continuous, meaning that the actions of other players remain in the game. Enemies will spawn, but if you time it wrong – or right, depending on the circumstances – you won’t have a single enemy to fight. I eventually found stiff resistance and picked my way through the enemy soldiers, learning healing and combat mechanics as I went.

It was intense – they were shouting at me, scolding me to fight them. They were tough fighters, but capable, and even my marksman skills and well-equipped M4A1 didn’t spare me from the dangers that littered the map. There’s nowhere near enough in the way of loot opportunities, but it’s in alpha and I don’t expect it to be packed – but there’s still enough to keep me occupied.

I can’t stop

This closed playtest will only last for a week, after which the game will be taken offline again to work on MADFINGER. Still don’t know when the next playtest will be, but I can’t wait to see it again. I lost myself in the gray zone, marveling at the gorgeous scenery, atmosphere and ever-present sense of danger, and aside from the usual problems you’d associate with an early access product, almost nothing happened. wrong.

In fact, I just bought a brand new, top-of-the-range PC in anticipation of Gray Zone Warfare being released, and I’ve been playing it to the max. That’s how invested I am in this game – I can see it taking up more of my gaming time in the future.

Gray Zone Warfare will be available exclusively on PC, but some hints point to a console release down the line.

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