Foxhole is a new multiplayer game where you play as a soldier in a massive online battlefield. You, along with hundreds of other players, influence the trajectory of a larger war—though that grand scale won’t save you from dying as soon as you reach the front lines.
The game is a top-down third-person shooter, and in order to play, you have to join one of the servers, each of which has a different battle. You can choose to join either the Colonials or the Wardens— which are “purely cosmetic” according to an admin on the Discord. That said, one team may have more players than another, or may have more bases than the other, depending on how well that particular team is doing, and players will likely factor this in when choosing a side.
The goal of the game is to locate, claim, and rebuild all town halls, where you can both spawn and craft weapons. From there, you can build the strength of the base or push back enemy lines. Players can take on a variety of roles, from combat engineers that build structures, logistics officers that produce and deliver supplies, and field commanders that set up mission objectives and facilitates communication between squads. Foxhole is supposed to mimic the realities of war, thus battles are long and can take hours if not days to win. The game focuses heavily on strategy and teamwork, so using the chat box and voice chat to communicate with other players are a must. It leaves little space for casual players to enter the battlefield, and new players are on a steep learning curve.
While it’s simple enough to figure out controls (you can check out KrazyFlyinChicken’s tutorial here) your objectives are not as intuitive. Foxhole markets itself as a teamwork MMO, but it doesn’t always work out that way. In my time with Foxhole, I saw players team-kill each other, or just wouldn’t help out other newbie players.
Although this is an action game, it takes a long time to actually find the action. When you first spawn at the town hall, you can craft a variety of weapons and ammunition clips, each which take 10-15 seconds each to make. The map is massive— a feature that I would normally find cool, but is exhausting to navigate. You would think that I could just grab an armored truck or a motorcycle and drive around, but no. Players on your own team will lock vehicles, which prevents you from getting inside them. I understand locking the cars if you drive them out to the battlefield, because that way enemies can’t use them, but at the home base? Give me a break.
Several times, I stumbled across enemy territory and ended up being shot down before I even had a chance to see where enemies were going from.. Enemies would shoot me down in a rapid fire, and I was left to stare blankly at my bloody character wriggling on the ground for 17 seconds before I could finally respawn— minus all my weapons of course.
While the game doesn’t officially give you a role, I decided to try my luck as a medic. To do this, I had to craft med kits, which I could use on soldiers wounded on the battlefield. Easier said than done, at least at first.
Crafting medical kits requires hauling heavy loads of steel bars, which are used to make bandages, medical kits, and trauma kits. You take the steel bars to the medical center and select what items you would like to make, but it will not give you the finished items. Instead, it gives you crates of unassembled kits, which you have to take to a town hall to stock pile. You make multiple kits at a time, not just one. As with many things in this game, it’s a time consuming process.
In my first playthrough as a medic, I wasn’t very strategic: I tried to immediately join the front lines so I could go around helping other soldiers. I stockpiled my kits away from the front lines, and I took about four of the assembled kits with me. What happened when I reached the front lines? I got shot, and all my work was for naught. I tried it again by stockpiling my kits at the town hall on the front line, but after that, I still ended up being blown up right outside the city walls.
Despite these hurdles, I did have some fun playing Foxhole in the moments when I was interacting with my teammates:
The absolute highlight of my time with Foxhole was when I played as a medic for the Wardens, which were quickly losing their war against the Colonials. Funnily enough, being on the losing side as a medic had an upside. The Wardens had just lost their second to last base, so I knew the front line was headed to our hometown. Excitedly, I made medical kits and trauma kits, and brought them with me to the front lines. I crawled around on the ground and hid behind houses, beckoning my teammates to come to me for help. This was the most I had interacted with other players— and it was also the most exciting. The end of the war was gruesome, with bodies and blood strewn everywhere. I could hear my teammates screaming, “Medic! Medic!” as the bombs and gunfire exploded all around us. This was the first time that I felt like I was playing in a war: it was both entertaining and surreal.
We knew we would lose, but we weren’t just going to give the Colonials the win. One of my teammates started shouting (via voice chat) for us to start building walls all around our town hall. When an enemy tank approached the outermost wall, it stopped, turned around, and left.
“Haha he can’t do shit!” my teammate shouted, laughing.
I laughed too. That massive tank saw our architectural jungle of concrete walls and iron gates and just went, “Nope.” It was like he didn’t even want to expend the effort in destroying our mess.
While it’s a unique shooter experience, for the most fun, you should try this game with a group of friends. Foxhole is available early access on Steam for $19.99.