Have you heard of Foxhole? I’m sure some of you have, but don’t feel bad if the answer is no. Until developer Clapfoot’s PR agency asked us to talk with the studio, we didn’t either. Then we played the game, launching into Early Access today on Steam, and we’re now very big fans. Read on for our hands-on preview of this unique persistent war MMO.
Foxhole is vaguely set in a WWII-based universe, but it’s not Germans, Americans, Brits, and Japan: it’s the Colonials versus the Wardens. There is a massive multi-territory map, with each region supporting around two hundred players at a time. Think of it like this – a battle may be raging in one region of the world, while another is raging elsewhere.
Each region has its fighters for either side, but both sides are capped. So while there can be an uneven number between factions, one side can never go above (as an example) say 80 players on the map. As regions are won, they’re closed off with the ultimate goal being for your faction to hold all the territory. Foxhole is basically RISK if it were played in real time and each unit was an individual player.
Clapfoot’s game uses a top-down view, in essence to give it a real “fog of war” like presentation. Using binoculars and other in-game items you can scout other parts of the map, but in general each player can only see a few dozen meters around them in any direction. Positional audio is used to great length in order to each faction know where things are happening (in addition to a highly detailed map).
What’s great about Foxhole is just how group-oriented it is. This isn’t a traditional MMORPG. There are no quests or scripted content. There’s just the map, the campaign of war, and two sides fighting over it for control. Based on who wins each leg of the campaign, Clapfoot actually puts out in-game news to tell the tale of the war, and players shape this ongoing conflict overtime. Campaigns end, armistice can be called for a brief time, but war… war rages on and the battle starts anew.
Your character is persistent, can and will gain notoriety, ranks, and learn new skills as you play. You can pilot tanks, jeeps, fire artillery, construct bunkers, literal foxholes, become efficient with a massive variety of weapons. Firing artillery is especially cool, as you can do it blindly sure – but it’s much better if you bring a friend with binoculars who can shout out coordinates so you know where to shoot. Tanks require a driver and a gunner, and can also have a leader/genera/captain sit in the tank as a sort of mobile command post.
I only scratched the surface of what’s possible in Foxhole, and I’m jonesing for the early access to begin today with fresh servers and tons of new players. There’s a lot to learn in the game. Crafting, coordinating, and playing your part in the war effort is all part of life in the Colonial army (forget the Wardens, man). And Foxhole is looking mighty good. It flew almost entirely under my radar, but this is one Early Access title you might want to consider. There’s an active Discord for communication and gameplay you might want to join as well. Keep an eye out for our review of the EA version in the coming weeks.