Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond - release date is expected to be December 11th, 2020.
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It’s pretty mesmerising to know that Medal of Honor first came out 20 years ago for the PlayStation One. The follow-up to the game was Allied Assault, which was exclusively released for the PC at the time.
Above and Beyond is filled with references fans of the franchise may recognize, and the Medal of Honor development team was able to flesh out these characters far more than in the past. The team shot over 120 pages of performance capture for the game. That’s an entire movie’s worth of narrative performance supplementing the gameplay and rounding out the story.
Medal of Honor has come a long way since 1999. In fact, did you know - The original Medal of Honor game was only about 300mb for the entire game! Nowadays, especially when it comes to VR, you can almost convert those Megabytes to Gigabytes. Although Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond will take up a considerable amount of disc space, I very much doubt the game will be anywhere near 300Gb, I mean, that would be ridiculous! To give you some perspective - the largest game to date, size wise, is Asgard’s Wrath taking up a whopping 132Gb… Half-Life Alyx only clocks in at 63Gb, so given that Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond is a high fidelity game, we should expect the game to take anywhere between 50 - 70Gb of disk space.
Medal of Honor™: Above and Beyond is an action-packed, immersive VR experience set in World War II, where you step into the boots of an agent of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in war-torn Europe. A deep single-player campaign takes you through historic events on land, air, and sea, sabotaging Nazi bases, subverting enemy plans, aiding the French Resistance, and much, much more.
Above and Beyond is a tale of human experiences, how ordinary people, citizen soldiers, reacted to one of the most significant events in human history. In Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, you’ll be taking on the role of a combat engineer who is recruited to join the OSS (Office of Strategic Services). The OSS, forerunner of the modern CIA, was established to conduct espionage and sabotage behind enemy lines during WWII. Your missions will take you from Tunisia to across Europe, participating in some of the biggest moments of the war. While many of the details remain top secret, you can expect to storm the beach at Omaha, infiltrate a secret Nazi V-2 Rocket facility on the island of Peenemünde, and use a disguise to sneak onboard a German U-Boat.
By your side for much of the action will be two new characters, a grizzled but thoughtful sergeant who’s seen the terrible toll of combat, and a young British medic eager to fight back against the Nazis. Fans of the franchise will also recognize several returning characters. Manon Batiste, a fiery French Resistance fighter, who has featured in nearly every Medal of Honor game, is back and heavily involved in the story, along with Dr. Gronek, a helpful rocket scientist you may recall from the original 1999 Medal of Honor.
In Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, the camera never leaves your eyes. Everything is shot around the perspective of the character. For a franchise that’s always aimed to put players in the boots of a World War II soldier, the Oculus Rift platform is a game changer. Once you put on an Oculus Rift, it’s the closest thing you can get to a time machine.
Thanks to those who had the opportunity to experience Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond at Oculus Connect 6, we do know that the game is fully set-up to use walk locomotion as opposed to most games, where teleportation seems to be the norm - so expect smooth movement only, with turn options such as blink-turn, smooth turn and vignette. You’ll also be happy to know that you’re not entirely stuck to a locomotive walk, you can still run by using the left thumb-stick.
The audio team went to incredible lengths to bring the real sounds of World War II to Above and Beyond. From weapon and vehicle sounds, to a pen dropping, to a stream growing louder as you approach. The team even spent a couple days out on Ox Ranch in Texas, rigging up tanks with microphones and recording them. In VR, you’ve got sounds coming from above, below, and all around you. It’s way beyond surround sound.
The team created an elaborate system for realistic impact sounds, “if you pick up a pen or a wooden model, they all respond realistically, regardless of what you do with them in the world.” Even if there’s no strict gameplay reason for you to pick up that statue and throw it out the window, it has to sound just right when it lands.
“There’s an industrial kitchen, the first time someone dropped a grenade in there, all the pots and pans went flying, there was this incredible cacophony,” said Earl. It wasn’t pre-designed that way, it was just all those individual objects playing their physics sounds. “I got chills. I was like oh yeah, that’s why we do this.”
You probably don’t spend much time thinking about the sound a door makes when you open it. But if every door made the same sound, you would, and it would take you out of the game. That’s why the audio team created dozens of distinct variations for any kind of repetitive environmental sound. Every type of door has several layers of sound, and there’s a controlled randomization to what plays when you interact with it. Just make sure you have a decent set of headphones to experience the sound in all its glory.
The game directors and game developers went balls-out to ensure that Medal of Honor went above and beyond as far as fidelity goes. Graphically the lighting effects, environments and textures are outstanding. So much attention went into every detail - for example; The enemy characters are all unique, in that their faces and their facial expressions are all different - even the Nazi clothing was painstakingly researched, textured and rendered to look authentic and as realistic as possible, right down to the shiny leather overcoats to the thick cotton trench-coats - the level of detail of the clothing is outstanding and probably the best you'll ever see, certainly in any modern-day VR game.
It’s no surprise the game plays as well as it looks. There were over 180 developers working on Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond and with 2.5 years in the making - I’m sure it will be much appreciated by everyone who plays it… we just need to get our hands on it.
Gameplay wise - one of the most important aspects of Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond wasn’t to develop a game based on realism as such, but more on the basis of authenticity. In the real world of gaming a single head-shot would render you dead and that’s no fun. This game is all about keeping it authentic without the loss of immersion.
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond is everything you’d expect from a game of this caliber. You have so much freedom to move around. You can duck down behind objects to shield yourself from enemy fire and peer around corners and doors.
As with most VR games, guns are drawn in the normal fashion, either from the hip, for small weapons, such as the pistol, or the rifle from over the shoulder. In order to keep the game immersive, there’s no need to return the weapon back to its holding place, you simply drop (release the grip button) it and it returns automatically. Just like the game Robo Recall.
Reloading the pistol works by pressing the ‘A’ button to eject a clip, then reaching to the left side of your belt to grab a new clip, inserting it into the butt of the pistol. To further add to the immersion you’ll need to manually cock the weapon to engage the clip. The bullet count, capacity and remaining amount of ammo, is clearly shown on the side of each weapon.
The sniper rifle is pretty snazzy. As soon as you pick it up and hold it near your head the cross-scope immediately comes into view, providing you with a zoomed version of your focal area. As with all single shot weapons you’ll need to manually reload the weapon by sliding the lock bolt on the side of the weapon. The sub machine gun (SMG) works in a similar way - in that before it can be fired, you’ll need to engage the magazine in a similar fashion. The SMG isn’t the most stable and accurate weapon, but if you use both hands the gun becomes far more stable, increasing its accuracy.
There’s a new way to interact when using grenades. As well as the conventional method, using your hand to pull the pin before it’s thrown, you can also pull the grenade pin using your teeth. How cool is that! The throwing mechanics are pretty much spot-on, so you shouldn’t have any difficulty tossing one a fair old distance. In case you’re wondering, yes, grenades are stored on the front of your vest.
You can pick-up almost any object in Medal of Honor, most of which are inanimate and are just there to be awed at, essentially most of these ascetics are mainly used to cosmetically enhance the overall game environment, however, you can interact with some objects more than others. Knives can be picked up and thrown to kill an enemy. You can even knock-out or daze a Nazi soldier by biffing a saucepan at him.
Any FPS game wouldn’t be the same without some form of health mechanic. In Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond medical syringes are used to revive you. These syringes are stored on the cuffs of your shirt, the ideal place for quick access should you ever require a health boost. To administer the health serum it’s just a case of jabbing yourself while pressing the action button (‘A’ button).
The game is exclusive to the Oculus store and will be available to play on the Rift. However, the game can be played on other headsets: For those who have the Oculus Quest 2, you'll need to use the Oculus Link cable. Just make sure your PC and graphics card meets the requirements set by Oculus. To play the game on the Vive, Valve Index or Windows Mixed Reality Headsets, such as the HP Reverb G2, you need to install a piece of software called 'Revive', which can be downloaded for free via GitHub.
Sadly you won’t have the chance to drive vehicles or fly planes as such, but you will end up as a passenger, observing what’s going on from within. Most of the common game mechanics we see in other games will be there, such as the ability to climb ropes, ladders, swim and throw knives etc.
From what we heard from the developers, Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond is expected to last between 10 - 15 hours as a single player campaign and have 50 or more levels, taking place in 3 different acts in a story-line based throughout Europe.
The game will most certainly have multiplayer, but as far as Co-op play, there’s been no real mention about that, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
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