One-person development must be an incredibly difficult racket. There’s so much to consider that just wouldn’t be a problem for a larger, more well-staffed development studio. It’s true that bespoke development tools have made it a little easier for indie hopefuls to get their projects off the ground, but for the most part, it remains a fairly Herculean task to create a game all by oneself.
That difficulty increases twofold when the game in question is a multiplayer Call of Duty-style FPS. The competition around this genre is fierce; with Call of Duty, Battlefield, Medal of Honor and so many more titles vying for dominance, any new pretender to the throne is going to have to work extra hard to establish itself as a viable contender. Hats off to Lucas Wilde, then, whose latest effort, Bullet Force Multiplayer, has managed to do just that. (Might be best to put anchor text here somewhere?)
Wilde isn’t quite an old hand when it comes to game development, but you might recognize one or two of his previous games: he’s worked on multiplayer tactical FPS Forward Assault and 2D tank battler Plated Glory, both of which are available to download via mobile platforms. Bullet Force Multiplayer on Poki.com is his latest effort, and it’s the multiplayer contingent of the wider Bullet Force release, which will feature a single-player mode “with bots”, according to Wilde.
This kind of game is usually all about the multiplayer, though, and Wilde has wisely focused on this aspect of his game for Bullet Force Multiplayer. Effectively, Bullet Force Multiplayer is a small but perfectly-formed iteration of the console and PC multiplayer FPS which has dominated the multiplayer landscape for the last decade or so since the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. It’s a first-person shooter with light tactical elements, which sees players either band together in teams or compete for solo supremacy across three different game modes and in four different locations.
What’s really surprising about Bullet Force Multiplayer is the efficacy and faithfulness with which it manages to replicate the feeling of one of those big-budget AAA shooters. For years, there have been calls for Activision and EA to package single-player modes separately to their multiplayer counterparts so each mode can be given the love and attention it deserves, and Bullet Force Multiplayer feels like the culmination of that debate. Visually, the game is incredibly impressive; running within our browser, we never noticed any significant slowdown or graphical glitches, and each map exudes that dusty, tense feel that good multiplayer shooters always manage to evoke.
The presentation all around is top-notch, actually. Bullet Force Multiplayer is graphically very impressive, and its very well-observed audio design manages to communicate all the information the player needs without being overbearing. Distant shots will be heard in stereo, allowing players to figure out where they’re being attacked from and how to deal with it, while killstreak bonuses unlocked by the enemy team (and by the player’s team) are clearly communicated with an audiovisual cue. The caveat “considering this game was made by a single person” is not necessary here; Bullet Force Multiplayer would have very impressive presentation indeed if it was made by a studio of developers, let alone one or two passionate individuals.
Of course, the presentation doesn’t mean much if the gameplay isn’t solid. Bullet Force Multiplayer offers three different modes: Conquest, in which players fly solo to compete for the most points; Team Deathmatch, similar to Conquest except it’s team-based; and Gun Game, which cycles the weapons available to players according to a set rota. Each of these modes feels markedly different and requires different tactics from the player, which also means different areas of each map will become relevant.
During our time playing Team Deathmatch, we found our team huddled in a single area frequently on the Urban map, establishing a de facto base from which we could defend ourselves against enemy attacks. The verticality and variety in terms of level geometry is impressive; each map has a treasure trove of nooks and crannies to discover and exploit for maximum tactical efficiency, while a couple of the maps (Woods in particular) allow multiple routes and shortcuts to be used in order to sneak up on enemies and get the drop on them.
The shooting at the core of Bullet Force Multiplayer is also strong. There’s a staggering number of weapons, throwables and different loadout combinations on offer, and no matter which one you go for, you’ll feel the punch and weight of the guns as you fire them. There isn’t a class system in Bullet Force Multiplayer, which works in the game’s favor; you’re able to build the class you want to play from scratch, which feels organic and personal.
There’s also a pleasingly robust variety of perks and killstreak bonuses in Bullet Force Multiplayer. The former are unlocked upon leveling up, which happens as you gain XP from multiplayer matches, while the killstreak bonuses (just like the game’s higher-budget cousins) are temporary boons bestowed upon players who do well on a match-by-match basis. These bonuses never threaten to unbalance the game, which is more than could be said for many of Bullet Force Multiplayer’s rivals; each perk feels well-considered and fits into specific playstyles, while the killstreaks introduce fair and reasonable bonuses for enemy players without granting unfair advantages.
All in all, you could do much, much worse than Bullet Force Multiplayer, especially for a browser-based game. Excellent presentation, absorbing gameplay, and a well-implemented metagame XP system mean that this game earns a well-deserved “oo-rah” from us.