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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Starks

Review - Gray Zone Warfare


Developer: MADFINGER Games

Publisher: MADFINGER Games

Available on: PC

Review console: PC with the following specs:

ASUS TUF Dash F15

Processor: 12th Gen Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-12650H - 2.30 GHz

Installed RAM: 32.0 GB (31.6 GB usable)

GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU


In a world of gaming, there are bright stars and deep shadows. Gray Zone Warfare exists where its name implies, right in the middle. 


Gray Zone Warfare (GZW) is the new kid on the block in the niche gaming world of tactical extraction shooters. The game is set in 42km2 of the fictional Democratic Republic of Lamang and revolves around the three different private military contracting companies that serve as the game’s faction system. The gameplay loop is pretty standard. You spawn into your faction’s base camp, grab your gear, and complete the tasks (quests) accepted from the various vendors available. Then you push out into the map either solo or with a squad from the same faction and complete the objectives, grab loot, and extract safely back to your base camp to reap the rewards of your hard-fought struggles. If you’ve played tactical extraction shooters before, none of this is really going to be too far detached from games you’ve played previously. 



The moment I loaded into the game I was immediately struck by the beauty of the Unreal Engine 5. Even on my modest gaming laptop, I was able to enjoy 60fps on high settings. From the gentle sway of the foliage to the picture-in-picture of the scoped weapons, this game shines. 


The base game of GZW works exceptionally well. The mechanics that make up the bulk of the game work exceptionally well. The minute-to-minute gunplay is very satisfying. Any gun nuts will appreciate the level of detail that goes into the weapon modification system. It feels rewarding to come back to your base camp after slogging through multiple firefights, turn in your tasks, then take your hard-earned cash to build the weapon of your dreams. Albeit, you feel almost hesitant to take your new prized rifle out downrange due to the risk of losing it all to an unlucky headshot from an NPC or a player from the rival faction. Which brings me to the medical system. As someone with a combat medical background, it’s refreshing to see a game with a built-in injury system. It challenges the player to manage your inventory carefully, balancing your food, ammunition, and medical gear while also trying to leave room for that sweet sweet loot that you are always on the hunt for. It also emphasizes the convenience of partnering up with other players in your faction. While playing solo, there were multiple occasions where after receiving certain injuries, my character went into a “downed” state. Unfortunately, no friendly players in the immediate area came to my aid and it definitely made me wish I had a squadmate or two to help me get back on my feet. I wish there was a system in place that showed members of your faction in downed states nearby so you could rush to get them back in the fight. 



While the foundation of the game is solid, the rest of the house needs some work.


Unfortunately, the game is not without its flaws. Some people may say that critiquing the flaws of a game released in “Early Access” isn’t fair, I would argue that if the game is charging $40 for the base game, then offering upgrade packs for upwards of $100, it is definitely fair game. Which leads me to my first issue; stability. If you search the game on Google, some of the top posts you’ll find are related to the instability of the servers and the frequent crashes. Normally, that wouldn’t be much more than a mild inconvenience but if you happened to be one of the players on the $100 version of the game, and you happen to be out on an objective when one of these crashes take place, you’ll lose all of the gear you had on you. However, I WILL say that I reviewed this game while playing on Asia servers. I personally only experienced one server disconnect. Another issue is the inconsistency with bullet damage and hit detection while fighting against the NPC enemies scattered across the zone. It can be frustrating after dumping an entire magazine into an enemy only to have them turn around and take you out with a single shot to the face. 



Another issue is how little the game explains anything to you before turning you loose into the environment. I’m usually not a huge fan of lengthy tutorials but for games as complex as GZW, I believe one would definitely be warranted. Especially when it comes to selecting your faction before getting into the open world. There is no real explanation about the system before you’re forced to make the choice, only to find out that your friends are all in one of the other factions and your choices are to either wipe your character or play through for an undisclosed period of time when the reset rolls through. 


The final large issue in the game I will touch on has to be with the amount of griefing going on in the game. At the time of this review, there is no punishment for killing members of your own faction. While playing the game for the review, I witnessed multiple encounters of players scoping down on a friendly then deleting them from existence in order to swipe all the loot their ally had. Madfinger really needs to find a way to de-incentivize this type of behavior during gameplay. 



Verdict


Gray Zone Warfare sets itself up to become the king of the tactical extraction shooter genre…once it irons out a few of the kinks. With some diversity in the content, easier onboarding for new players, and a few other tweaks to the base systems this game will be one that fans will cling to for years to come.


If you’re a fan of the genre I would say -


Gray Zone Warfare is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


If you’re new to this style of gaming and want a more polished product to come around before you dive in, Gray Zone Warfare is still RECOMMENDED, albeit give it a few more patches before you dip your toes into the water.


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