Crytek has been turning heads this year with its creepy multiplayer survival shooter Hunt: Showdown - but you might not know about Warface, the free-to-play military FPS its been iterating on since 2013. Now Warface is coming to PS4 and Xbox One this September, with years' worth of new modes and refinements from the PC version. Having gotten hands-on time with the upcoming console version, Warface feels a bit rough around the edges - unsurprising for a 2013 game that was once ported to Xbox 360. But if you're not afraid of some F2P foibles and aging visuals, Warface is actually a pretty fun alternative in the vein of Call of Duty's fast-paced PvP - and even Destiny, if PvE shooting is your thing.
Warface (not to be confused with the excellent action game Warframe) looks like a fairly typical modern warfare FPS at first glance, rife with the muted browns of sand, dirt, and camo gear. It's by no means an ugly game, and it's still built in CryEngine - just don't expect anything remotely close to the level of Crysis when it comes to textures, model details, and animations. You also won't be leaping or stealthing around in a souped-up Nanosuit, but Warface does share part of Crysis' DNA: the ability to modify your weapon at any time (even in the middle of a firefight, if you're foolhardy/brave enough). Being able to swap out your scope or add a silencer on the fly is an interesting wrinkle, even if you'll probably find your ideal gun spec and stick to it fairly quickly.
Though Warface's competitive multiplayer maps have the same tight quarters and fast respawns as Call of Duty, there's an emphasis on sticking together rather than lone-wolfing your way to the top of the leaderboard. There are four classes to choose from - Rifleman, Engineer, Medic, and Sniper, all with unique primary weapons - that encourage a balanced loadout for a well-rounded team. And the maps are designed around the 'double climb' mechanic, where one player can start a two-person prompt near a wall that will hoist both teammates up to a platform that can't be reached alone. This maneuver instantly creates an exciting 'I've got your back' mentality, and does wonders for finding good Sniper spots (my personal favorite class during the demo session, what with their powerful semi-automatic rifles).
Sure, there are bits of jank here and there, but Warface's shootouts feel quite good overall, with each firearm packing a satisfying amount of oomph. Headshots are pretty much a one-hit kill with any weapon, but the respawns are so short that you're right back into the fray. The PvP modes are plentiful, from capturing points to classic team deathmatch, and the maps are spaced just right to deliver constant action without feeling like a meat grinder. That said, it does seem like spawn-camping is a very doable strategy, which could make for some miserable matches, and there are a few goofy-looking effects, like guns suddenly spawning in out of thin air and dropping to the floor whenever you kill someone.
The PC version of Warface boasts 40 million registered users, though it won't be toppling free-to-play titans like Fortnite - Steam tracks around 5,000 concurrent players online every day, enough to consistently put it in the 100 top games by current player count. Speaking of Fortnite, Warface does offer its own fast-paced version of Battle Royale - something it introduced long before Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 announced its last-player-standing Blackout mode. That makes Warface is one of the few shooters to offer a first-person-only version of large-scale Battle Royale, without the need to build a wooden castle around yourself the moment someone starts shooting at you. Granted, Warface's Battle Royale is limited to 32 players rather than the typical 100-soldier melee - but that makes for much quicker matches and a better ratio of exciting firefights to time played.
In a surprising twist, Warface also goes all-in on five-player, cooperative PvE missions via its themed raids, called Special Operations. It's a welcome addition that feels quite unorthodox for what's otherwise a traditional military shooter, especially given the setups for the raids: enemies range from standard grunts to killer robots and cybernetic zombies, with varied settings that include a volcano-based power plant and an Egyptian temple. The AI soldiers you mow down, who signed up with the villainous Blackwood faction, aren't too smart or engaging to fight on their own; the difficulty mostly comes down to how many waves you have to eliminate in each area, and how much cover is available. I also noticed some reused areas and unfortunate frame drops when the action got hectic. While it may not offer grand campaigns and big-budget missions on the same level as something like Destiny 2, Warface's Special Operations tick many of the boxes that make for enjoyable co-op shooting: teamwork, specialized roles, a smattering of lore, and desperate holdouts that often end with one player heroically surviving to respawn everyone at the next checkpoint.
Given that Warface is free-to-play, you can expect some of those pesky microtransactions to rear their head, including guns that you rent rather than permanently buy (a F2P pet peeve of mine), purchasable revive tokens for the PvE content, and loot boxes that offer infinitesimally small chances of opening the item you actually want. But it feels like you can easily enjoy much of what Warface has to offer without spending a cent - and if you're trying to be thrifty, there's a ton of fun FPS content here for the price of free. Warface launches on PS4 and Xbox One this September, with early access pre-sales starting in August.
For more free-to-play goodness, check out our carefully curated list of the best free games to play right now.