Gameloft’s Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour is probably the best first-person shooter on Windows Phone. Not that there’s any real competition; the only other FPS I can think of is the same company’s disappointing N.O.V.A. 3. Modern Combat 4’s strength was in its single-player campaign; the multiplayer mode was pretty much a bust (see our review). That might just change in the upcoming sequel…
We’ve just come across some new multiplayer details for Modern Combat 5: Blackout, plus the two screenshots above. Some of the new features for part 5 include new game types, squad support, chat, limited time events, and improved leaderboards. These improvements should make for a compelling online multiplayer experience on Windows Phone – if Gameloft gets the matchmaking right this time. Head past the break for more details.
Squads and chat
Modern Combat 4 Windows Phone screenshots
Persistent squads are probably the biggest new addition to Modern Combat’s formula.
“You can join squads with your friends or any other player you meet online, then take your squad online against other squads from around the world,” Gameloft promises.
These seem to be what most online games refer to as clans, although Gameloft’s choice of “squad” over “clan” could indicate that squads will be smaller than traditional online clans. Or they could just be parties – a team of players that stay together between multiplayer matches, but don’t remain associated with each other after leaving multiplayer mode.
Assuming squads work like parties, the feature would go a long way towards making up for part 4’s awful matchmaking. See, in the last game you had to choose between eight different multiplayer game types and then hope that other players would choose the same type and then enter your lobby. That game type division basically kept players from finding each other, the exact opposite of what you want in a multiplayer mode.
By allowing everyone in a squad to stick together regardless of game type, at least you have a core group of players who will populate whatever game you pick. But Gameloft could take things a step further and simply allow players to search for open games regardless of type, which would populate games much more efficiently than any other system. It’s not like most online phone games have huge numbers of players online at the same time.
Either way, the new global chat feature should help since players can organize games outside of matchmaking. Squads will also have a dedicated chat channel, so the team can communicate and plan without the opposing team eavesdropping. Modern Combat 4 already had a voice chat feature on other platforms, but that feature was omitted from the Windows Phone version. Presumably, we’ll receive the new chat. Gameloft hasn’t confirmed whether it will be voice or text chat, but global chat usually means text chat.
Game types, events, and leaderboards
Modern Combat 4 Windows Phone screenshots
Another change that should help with keeping games populated is the decreased number of multiplayer modes. Whereas Modern Combat 4 has eight different game types, part 5 will only offer four:
- Capture The Flag
- Free for All
- Team Battle
This is one case where less is more, because all the game types in the world won’t matter if most of them are empty. Four core types is much more reasonable for a game of this scale. All game types will support up to 12 players.
As for limited time events, both players and squads will be able to complete these special events. The events will offer multiple reward tiers. No rewards have been confirmed, but XP, currency, and customization items all seem likely.
Finally, Gameloft promises three types of online leaderboards: global, squad-based, and limited time events. Sounds good to me.
A few more things
Modern Combat 4 Windows Phone screenshot
One last blessing coming to Modern Combat 5 that we’ve known about for a while: progression will be unified between single-player and multiplayer. That means that experience and items unlocked in one mode transfer to the other mode, which will be great for players who prefer one to the other. It should also add replay value to the single-player campaign, since the things you do there will carry over to multiplayer.
Modern Combat 5 doesn’t have an official release date on any platform just yet. Lately, Gameloft has been releasing Windows Phone versions of its games about a month or so after the iOS and Android versions. We’ve definitely got a few months to wait, but it should arrive by the end of the year. Like all post-Kingdoms & Lords releases from the publisher, it will not be Xbox-enabled.
Gameloft has promised controller support but NOT specifically for Windows Phone, so it’s a complete toss-up whether this one will work with MOGA controllers. Let’s hope!