Gray Zone Warfare Preview: This Could Be My New Favourite Shooter

gray zone warfare preview

I was lucky enough to get access to the exclusive closed playtest for Gray Zone Warfare, an all-new, open-world first-person shooter being developed by MADFINGER. I knew plenty about ‘GZW’ going into it, but nothing prepared me for what lay ahead. From the moment I booted Gray Zone Warfare (and overcame 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 all at once, wrapped up in a neat package that’s equal parts attractive on the surface and deep below it.

Gray Zone Warfare Ticks All My Boxes

Recently, I caught up with MADFINGER’s Rick Lagnese, learning all about Gray Zone Warfare and what this impressive title is shaping up to be. There are so many things worth talking about, it’s almost impossible to know where to start. Firstly, there’s the core engine of the game and the gameplay loop itself – players are charged with entering a vast, open world and completing tasks, fighting other players and AI-powered enemies, and successfully getting back to their base with their loot without being killed in action.

That’s where the ‘extraction shooter’ element comes into play. Players assume control of a customisable PMC and gear up in their base before boarding a chopper and flying wherever they want across the map to a designated ‘LZ’ – and that’s just the start of the freedom. Once their boots are on the ground, players can do whatever they want without the burden of a time limit. They’ll need to manage their health, inventory, hydration, and energy – which ticks the survival-based box – but provided they can keep safe and secure, they can theoretically remain in the open world forever.

Once they’re done with their tasks, or if they’re on the edge of death and desperate for a way out, players can head to an LZ, call in a chopper, and buzz back to base, making use of vendors, an equipment stash, and various other mechanics.

Tick, tick, tick.

  • Open-world environment
  • Customisation elements (clothing, equipment, loadout)
  • Intense combat
  • Team-based gameplay (but you can also play solo)
  • Plenty of missions (major and minor)
  • An intriguing story/lore
  • Realism (gunplay, ballistics, physics, weather, lighting, foliage

Immersive Isn’t Even The Word

I started my Gray Zone Warfare session in my PMC base, which is permanently staffed by AI guards. Using the interface, I kitted out my fighter in a range of equipment – almost all of which will be recognised by Escape from Tarkov fans. There’s no getting away from the comparisons – a lot of inspiration has been taken from Escape from Tarkov, but why shouldn’t there have been? It’s the spearhead of the extraction shooter genre.

I then picked up a quest to simply scout out a few areas in a nearby town, clicked on an LZ to generate a Little Bird ‘taxi’, and waited for it to land. I was joined by another player as I waited at the helipad, and we got to talking. Everything in Gray Zone is in real-time, so we watched the chopper fly over, land, and then we boarded it. It flew off, taking us to our destination without any loading screens or transitions, and along the way, we used VOIP to chat with one another over the roar of the chopper’s engine.

Once we hit the ground, we bid each other farewell and went our separate ways. That’s where the fun started for me. As I ventured into the town, I found a lot of dead bodies. Gray Zone is persistent, which means that things other players do remain in the game. Enemies will respawn, but if you time it wrong – or right, depending on the circumstances – you’ll not have a single enemy to fight. I eventually found heavy resistance and picked my way through the enemy soldiers, learning the healing and combat mechanics as I went.

It was intense – they were shouting at me, taunting me into fighting them. They were rough fighters, but capable, and even my marksman skills and a well-equipped M4A1 didn’t spare me from the dangers littered across the map. There wasn’t anywhere near enough in the way of looting opportunities, but it’s in an alpha state and I wasn’t expecting it to be packed out – but there was still enough to keep me occupied.

I Cannot Wait

This closed playtest will last just one week, after which the game will be taken offline again for MADFINGER to work on it. It’s not yet known when the next playtest will take place, but I for one cannot wait for it to reappear. I lost myself in Gray Zone, marvelling at the gorgeous vistas, the atmosphere, and the ever-present sense of danger, and aside from the typical issues you’d associate with an early-access product, almost nothing went wrong.

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

Gray Zone Warfare will be available exclusively on PC, but some suggestions are floating around pointing to a console release further down the line.

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  1. It not right that people can play on game and record it on YouTube but some people can try the game it not right

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