I have 40 hours in Sandstorm now, and 639 hours INS:2. After I play Sandstorm I'm usually in a bad mood and I'm starting to wonder if the game shot itself in the knee and is - based on the available maps and mechanics - "frustrating by design" now? I only play skirmish currently and I always tried to blow up caches and had a lot of fun with that in the old game. The lanes in the old maps were designed so that you usually had to push through a lot of enemies till you got to the cache. There was often some kind of defense for it, even if the team didn't have any dedicated people to defend it. Now on some maps you can run to the fuel truck without even meeting anyone most of the time, because the maps are so huge. Flanking used to be a thrilling high risk move, and now it's much less interesting because the teams are so spread out over the maps. And on crossing, the damn trucks are placed in plain sight just waiting for a single RPG shot from next to C to take it out. That isn't fun, a moment of interesting challenge was removed and replaced with something that feels like pure cheesing.
The RPGs used to be high-risk-high-reward weapons that are inaccurate as fuck (I often couldn't even reliably fire them through a doorway or window at a distance), but if they hit, they cleared the fucking room like a boss. Now that we have all that helicopter crap they need to be laser-precise to give a fair chance of hitting the damn things and because they are so precise they also are perfect for blowing up trucks (boooring) and got nerfed hard against infantry. Another high-risk-high reward strategy becomes less interesting.
Then all the fire-support stuff. These are fun for 1 person at most, and even if I was the commander I'd feel bad calling in "easy kill support" because there is no challenge and no reason to feel good about yourself for using it. The team that caps the empty objective will feel bored because there's not much to shoot left, and all the people that died by the fire support will be super pissed too. For a rifle kill at least one player gets to have some fun at the expense of someone else being pissed off. I feel like the "net fun to be had in the game" was severely reduced. I'd limit them to smoke artillery only. The only thing the other stuff adds to the game are explosions to be shown in trailers and I feel like that was the main reason to add them in the first place...
I'm guessing microtransactions were mandated by the publisher, now all that cosmetic shit won't go anywhere ever, and the new meta is conceiling yourself in the environment buy using stuff that camouflages you, as if the lighting and cluttered visuals in the game weren't making it hard enough to spot people already. I have been shot numerous times by people that I have looked straight at and decided "that's some piece of rubble and belongs to the map" and boom, a muzzleflash appears and I'm dead. I'm using some kind of desert camo too and my K/D as security on the stats screen is much better than the one for playing Insurgents. And that's despite me always having preferred the AKM as a weapon in INS2...
The maps feel like zero effort has been put into blocking off points that are overpowered exploits for camping in super hard to see spots.
Overall the maps all feel way too "open and hard to conceptualize". It's mostly a clusterfuck of different buildings, often separated by too wide and open areas that invite the conceal-and-camp strategy. I miss the chokepoints that concentrated action. I feel like the percentage of duels compared to group engagements has been shifted a lot towards more 1v1 engagements happening. And because everything is so far apart it's soooo boring to run anywhere. Compared to the old game I feel like I'm spending much more time doing boring stuff and getting shot from behind, compared to being right in the action and winning/losing engagements. When you get shot from behind, it wasn't even a fight from your perspective. In the old game most of the time when I got shot I thought "ok, that guy was quicker or better", because the visuals were clearer and there were much clearer ways from where enemies could come (think of e.g. Ministry), here I feel like the map design is fucking you left and right...
Regarding aim, I can't put my finger on the reasons but it feels much harder to aim to me. Not the recoil, just aiming that first shot. I have mouse smoothing off, vsync off, fps usually higher than my monitor can handle, still feels like there is some kind of lag in the mouse movement. Does anyone else feel that way? The pro players maybe? I'm making so many hipfire kills like in almost no other FPS, something about that feels wrong. Overall shooting feels less satisfying to me in Sandstorm than in INS2.
My bottom-line thought for Sandstorm is "where has all the fun gone?". Because even if I have a good round with high KD, most kills, most objectives and top of the scoreboard, I feel like I've had less fun than in some INS2 matches that I lost.
I like the doors though... the doors are fun!
Look, if you love the game, more power to you! I wish I'd be happy with this game more than you can imagine, because all the other multiplayer shooters are unappealing to me. But right now the game feels so fundamentally flawed to me in ways that I don't expect to ever get fixed, because they are core design choices that you maybe can't even undo in a matter of a few months.
What I would like to hear is the point of view of someone who loved INS2 and thinks they are having even more fun in Sandstorm, and explain to me why exactly - what do you find more fun in Sandstorm? I'm sure there is someone, riiight? I feel like I don't "get" this game if you know what I mean, and it is frustrating.
I plan to play some more of the old INS2 till the next Sandstorm patch hits, to make sure I'm not just wearing rose-tinted-nostalgia-goggles in regards to INS2, but I doubt it. I would never play over 600 hours of a game that I don't absolutely love and I just don't see myself playing anywhere close to that amount of Sandstorm.
(if possible no TTK discussion please, I've left it out of my list because it has been done to death)