Ready or Not: Early Access

Even though Void Interactive’s debut game, Ready or Not is still in early access, it provides an exciting take on the underrepresented Swat sim style game, delivering everything and more than what I had hoped it would be! Similar to the Swat series games, the action is intense and nail-biting whatever scenario you tackle, be that with friends or flying solo. Although there are only a few maps playable at the moment, every session feels unique and exciting. The game is subject to change and is constantly being updated, so aspects of the game are likely to improve along the line.


Gameplay


Ready or Not is a realistic, tactical swat game, where the decisions you make will be reflected in your final score at the end of the round. Tackle the game head on with single player, providing you with four squad members, with which you can give orders, such as having them breach doors and arrest suspects. Alternatively, and in my opinion the best way to experience this game, head into situations with up to four friends in multiplayer. Both single player and multiplayer offer the same experience, minus the Ai squad members. The whole feel of the game is gritty, but in a good way. Every moment is tense, a couple of bullets could kill you, unlike other games where even a full mag won’t put you down, the threat of death in this game is around every corner. Teamwork is a key element in Ready or Not, and communication between you and your friends is a vital part of the game. There is no mini-map, and very little HUD, so making sure you talk, and plan together is extremely important. This only adds to the realism during the game and really gets you to carefully think about your next move. With a wide array of different weapons and tactical gear, including non-lethal options, you are able to tackle missions in any way you see fit, giving you immense choice and freedom to play the way you want. The aim of each session is to clear the objectives set by the mode you choose. Your team must do this efficiently and with as little bloodshed as possible if you want to achieve the best score. It is not always as simple as just shoot-to-kill, you will have to try to arrest suspects and give them ample opportunity to comply. Of course, there are always going to be situations that require a firm hand, meaning you will have to make decisions quickly and effectively, as this could be the difference between life and death. Each weapon is unique, allowing different attachments to be installed, and each having a different feel to them. You are able to test each gun out in the shooting range before you go into any mission, allowing you to get a feel for the different guns and letting you experiment with a setup that suits you. Sometimes the Ai can show some odd behaviour, such as firing through walls, without a line of site and killing you. Fortunately, this does not happen too often and for the most part you can escape it. The intensity of different situations is sure to get your heart racing, as you try to approach a suspect to arrest them, they will sometimes pull a weapon out and start shooting, meaning you must approach every task with respect and caution.


Ai


The Ai could use a little more work to make the game a bit more balanced. Currently suspects seem to have the ability to shoot at you without even seeing you in certain situations. The most common being next to a closed door, they will somehow know you are there and just start unloading unfathomable amounts of bullets through the door and into your body. This can be quite frustrating, as this takes away from the realism and you end up dying before you can truly get started with the mission. However, when this does not happen, the interactions with the Ai are done so well, players need to be on top of their game. Shouting at someone to surrender and put their hands up feels immersive, a lot of the times they are unwilling, with the only option being a gunfight often in tight spaces. Making quick and precise decisions is paramount when dealing with anyone. Assessing the threat level of a suspect is an important part of Ready or Not, as getting it wrong will be reflected in the final mission rating. Players need to determine quickly whether they can get the threat to give up, or whether they simply just need to take them out of the equation.

There are many unique and interesting ways the Ai can catch you out. For starters on certain maps, they are able to hide in closets and under beds, meaning players need to search every nook and cranny they can or be left vulnerable to an ambush. Another thing they can do is feign death, this is particularly important as if you don’t restrain a downed suspect, there is a chance they will get back up when you are not looking, pick up their weapon and shoot at you. If you are not prepared for these scenarios to happen, it will catch you with your guard down and you will fail.

Overall, the Ai is fairly decent, with some neat little tricks up their sleeves, and immersive and engaging combat situations. But they do need a patch to nerf how accurate they are and how fast they engage you before you even know they are there. It’s as if you’re coming face to face with the best gunslinger in the Wild West, every single time.


Graphics and Sound


Ready or Not uses Unreal Engine 4 for its graphics, allowing it to have a realistic look to it. The graphics are sleek and well fleshed out. Character models, weapon models, environment, items, and maps all look amazing with the graphics set to the highest option. The lighting looks incredible, especially on maps where you play during the dead of night. The way the developers have been able to give these dark maps a gritty and tense feeling just through the lighting alone is incredible. Light reflects off surfaces and bounces off things making them pop out. Environments are fully fleshed out, with plenty of detail and things to look at, giving each environment its own interesting unique vibe.

The audio is generally good. Guns sound incredible, and how they sound changes deepening on how far away you are. For example, if you’re in the next room over and someone starts shooting, it will sound muffled and unclear. Alternatively, if you are right next to gunfire, you will get the full experience of what that gun sounds like, and it’s beautifully done. The game features directional audio also, which is useful for hearing footsteps and being able to locate a general direction and location of said footsteps. However, this directional audio does seem to require a little bit of fine tuning, as more often than not when hearing footsteps, I have found myself going to the place where it sounds like they are coming from, only to be greeted with an empty room. This is not a major issue as it is only a small part of the game, and I am sure in the future this will be improved upon further. One of my favourite sounds in the game is when you open a door and trigger an explosive trap. All you hear is a line being tripped and a pin pull, and at this moment you have a sudden realisation that it’s game over for you.


Summary


Ready or not delivers a truly satisfying tactical swat experience, and when played with friends is especially immersive. Every mission gives you a thrill and so many different ways to approach them. Apart from the slim choice in maps, and godlike Ai, Ready or Not won’t fail to deliver on a genre that has been sorely lacking in recent years. The developers are constantly updating the game and unlike many studios, they actually listen to community feedback and make improvements based on what they receive.

This puts the games future in very good stead, and with Void Interactive being as proactive as they are, I cannot wait to see what Ready or Not develops to in the future, and when it leaves early access and becomes a fully released game!


9/10

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