Hardcore Checkpoint has single-handedly brought me back head over heels in love with Sandstorm. The pacing, the intensity, the satisfaction. It's excellent. The slower movement speed and the more restricted nature of what you can achieve by just running and gunning forces you to work as a squad. In fact, I honestly hope that NWI will heavily consider making it available for more gamemodes. A game of Push where patience and coordination is rewarded would be wonderful. I don't know if I can go back to the normal modes after playing through Hardcore Checkpoint, honestly.
I do have a slight suggestion, though. When respawning after dying, the player comes back with a Mosin Nagant, a Makarov, and a smoke grenade. When you're playing as insurgents, this is great. It's thematic. I feel like a local militia member rushing to assist or reinforce a hard pressed squad.
But when I'm playing as security, it really takes me out of the moment. The sort of 'fantasy' and atmosphere that the mode builds up is gone. Because I'm a member of security forces with a bolt action rifle from the Second World War. I understand that balance is a concern, and I adore that dying puts you in a position where you have to get by with poor equipment or scavenge for something better. But I think it could be improved upon.
In order to keep a somewhat close balance between Security and Insurgents, I think the Insurgent weapons could be kept as is. And maybe the Security forces that spawn in would have a sidearm(the Tariq or M45, maybe) and the M870 with slugs. It's still a slow weapon that punishes poor accuracy or shots that aren't well thought out. It's just as slow to reload and even though it holds a bit more, it has less distance. This would be a very simple change but would really return that atmospheric feeling, I think. You can imagine you're hurrying from a nearby base to go assist a fireteam that's taking way too many casualties. Or maybe you're a Military Police officer pressed into field duty for that same reason. It keeps the same mechanic that works well but tweaks it to better fit the tone of the mode.
Alternatively, if you were looking for true equity, maybe insurgents would start with an AKM with a single magazine(so 30 rounds total), and Security could start with the M16A4 with 30 rounds. Then it's each side's most basic weapon. It would still maintain aspects of scavenging and you would have to avoid the urge to waste ammo or risk being left empty and vulnerable.
Either of these changes would suffice, I think, but I really do believe it would be something incredibly easy to do with a big impact. I hope you feel the same, and that maybe NWI takes a look at this and considers it for the next patch.
Thanks for reading.