A Sandstorm Kicks Up In Global AgendaS

Atlanta-based Hi-Rez Studios launches phase one of the massive Sandstorm patch to Global Agenda today, bringing many much-needed additions to the massively multiplayer online shooter, including revamped Agency-vs-Agency combat, epic weapons, and single player content.

Global Agenda is a nifty little online multiplayer shooter that received a relatively warm reception when it launched back in early February. The fighting is simple yet satisfying, and it's perfect for players who want to hop online for a few quick bouts of co-operative or competitive multiplayer.

Still, it was lacking a certain depth, and Hi-Rez acknowledges that with today's release of the first part of the game's Sandstorm update.

Weapons are receiving the biggest changes with this phase of the update. Players will now be able to acquire new weapons via tokens or drops during missions, rather than simply having them unlocked as they gain levels. The update brings 32 new weapons for characters over level 30, as well as class-defining epic melee weapons that will be nearly impossible to acquire.

Epic weapons include in rocket-powered hammer and shield combo for Robotics class players; a life-syphoning sword for Medics; a giant, corridor-clearing two-handed hammer for the Assault class; and a pair of serrated blades for the rogue-like Recon class.

Weapons and armor will now have quality levels, ranging from common all the way up to epic, giving players more diversity in their equipment with new statistic combinations.

The Special Ops PvE (player versus environment) missions are also getting a big upgrade, finally allowing players to run through missions in teams less than four, with solo missions available for the anti-social. For those seeking a bigger challenge, there's even new Ultra-Max Security level missions.

PvP players aren't being ignored, either, with new maps, a 10-on-10 team-based arena, and a revamp to the worldwide Agency-vs-Agency combat, now condensed into one giant map.

Oh, and the combat jetpack will finally allow players to fly and shoot simultaneously. It's about damn time.

Global Agenda was supposed to launch with both free-to-play and subscription options, but Hi-Rez has held off on the subscription side of things, giving all players free access to the more MMO-flavored elements of the game at no charge. That freedom will continue until Sandstorm phase II launches later this year.

For more information on the Sandstorm update or to sign up for a free trial of Global Agenda, visit the game's official website.