Miss NS? Check Out This Enjoyable Military Shooter
STORY: Glenn Chew
19 October 2021
You’re a gamer. You like shooters. You’re tired of the run-and-gun mechanics of “Call of Duty”.
You’re tired of the cartoonish graphics of Valorant. You’re definitely tired of the inane “Fortnite” dances. Something more realistic might be up your alley. Most of us don’t want to go through NS, especially BMT, all over again. However, do you ever get the feeling that the skills you learnt just end up… wasted? What about your outfield CQB training? Your fire-movement drills and your scraped knees going through the BIT, crawling through machine-gun fire?
Surely your suffering on Tekong (or Pasir Ris/Sembawang, if you were one of those elite Commandos or Naval Divers) should amount to something right? Why else did you go through those tekan sessions?
Enough rhetorical questions. “ARMA 3” might be a game that’s been on your radar: it’s meant to be a milsim, a military simulation. It is, however, incredibly intimidating to even pick up. Almost every button on your keyboard corresponds to a unique action. Most players take it too seriously, and roleplay a bit too much - I don’t think most of us want to relive the regimentation of our NS days.
Squad is a realistic military shooter that manages to toe the line between fun and realism, and shows that the two things aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. If “COD” and “Battlefield” are on one end of the complexity spectrum, and “ARMA” is on the other, “Squad” sits comfortably in-between. It consists of large-scale battles between teams of 50, each split into – you guessed it – squads!
The most common game mode, Advance & Secure, consists of capturing points across the map and holding them for points. It sounds reminiscent of Call of Duty’s classic Domination, Battlefield’s Conquest, or any standard capture-point/attack and defend mode, except that maps in “Squad” can be up to 16 sqkm in size.
If this seems cumbersome, the game has a multitude of vehicles to circumvent this: helicopters, APCs, jeeps, and tanks, among others. It might seem a bit sian, but I feel it’s meant to promote teamwork and utilising vehicles, instead of having one OCS-wannabe charging into battle alone in a jeep, guns blazing.
It bears repeating: “Squad” manages to strike a balance between fun and realism. You can’t spawn anywhere, only your side’s main operating base. However, you can use supplies during a match to create mobile bases throughout the map at which players can spawn; I personally find it a highly enjoyable and unique game mechanic. These aforementioned supplies are transported by logistic trucks driven by players, who are just as respected as your CQMS who comes with the tonner full of cold water during your outfield.
Speaking of logistic trucks... Do you, for some reason, want to just drive between your base and the frontlines, delivering supplies back and forth just like a logistics driver in your NS days? Well, do I have the role for you! Don’t worry, you won’t be charged if you accidentally bump into something while driving.
“Squad” really lives up to its name by making it so that no single player can decide a game, with a plethora of roles available. Do you want someone to lead and set up structures? Someone has to be a Squad Leader for that. Do you need first aid on the battlefield so your squadmates don’t bleed to death? Get a medic. Need covering fire for your squad? Whip out your SAW as an automatic rifleman.
The game really rewards creativity as well as conventional warfare. I’ve gone into tanks and charged to the front lines to engage in a war of attrition. I’ve also hopped into a jeep with a machine-gun and driven covertly behind enemy lines with my squad to disrupt the enemy’s supply channels.
I’ve also tried getting into a helicopter with 10 other teammates to rappel down in enemy territory, but we quickly took rocket-fire and went down in record time, laughing all the way - when the stakes are virtual, morbid things can actually be hilarious!
With all of the fun I’ve just described, I should reiterate the main selling point of this game: It’s a slow-paced realistic shooter meant to be played as a team. For me, the fun comes from interacting with other people and working towards objectives together. You won’t be constantly taking fire or making things go boom.
I’ll admit, hearing about a “realistic shooter” made me quite nervous. I went into “Squad” as a casual player who wasn’t too familiar with “ARMA” or other “milsims”, but coming out of it, I can say it’s incredibly fun. A very different kind of fun, too.
A bonus: Throughout the game, I was treated warmly by a great community consisting of many SEA and Australian players! If you’re not too worried about connection issues, there are numerous welcoming groups beyond our region as well.
“Squad” is a truly unique game and worth a look, with its comparatively small but dedicated and friendly playerbase. In my book, it’s easily the most enjoyable military shooter if you somehow miss NS. If you didn’t enjoy NS, I’d say it’s still an excellent choice.
Squad is available on Steam for $42, and often goes on sale for 25% off. It is a PC-only title.