Ready or Not review - breach and clear

Ready for co-op, not solo play

Ready or Not
(Image: © Void Interactive)

TechRadar Verdict

Ready or Not is elevated by its excellent gun handling and tense co-op multiplayer, but a barebones solo experience and inconsistent AI make it much harder to enjoy without friends.


  • +

    Fantastic gunplay

  • +

    Gripping co-op mode

  • +

    Varied arsenal


  • -

    Barebones single-player

  • -

    Crude humor and inconsistent AI

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Review info

Platform reviewed: PC
Release date: December 13, 2023 

A new tactical first-person shooter (FPS) from Void Interactive, Ready or Not feels like a long overdue attempt at a serious spiritual successor to the 2005 classic SWAT 4. Following an armed police unit in the fictional Los Suenos Police Department, you’re thrust into the polished boots of a Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T) commander tasked with managing a team of officers both in and out of the field.

The detailed gunplay is superb from the get-go and the wide variety of options when you’re selecting or tweaking your squad’s gear opens the door to plenty of tactical possibilities. Throw in an intuitive control scheme that allows you to perform complex actions with ease, and you have a formula that's perfect for online co-op play.

The overall package is let down by the single-player Commander Mode, however, which replaces your team of up to three other human players with four wildly inconsistent AI. These computer-controlled squadmates are mostly adequate, but there are far too many situations in which they completely bug out - which leads to unfair deaths. The same is true of the enemies who range from completely oblivious to near-omniscient, landing impossible potshots through walls with surgical precision.

 Plan and execute 

Ready or Not

(Image credit: Void Interactive)

There are 18 main stages to tackle, each selected from a map screen in the briefing room of the police station hub world. Containing a basic firing range, a small training facility, and equipment boxes to change out your current loadout, this is where you prepare for your next excursion.

These missions are mostly the kinds of situations that one would expect to encounter in a S.W.A.T simulator, with many like the hospital terrorist attack or nightclub shooting especially reminiscent of some of the maps found in SWAT 4. Unlike that earlier game, however, Ready or Not does not pull any punches when it comes to its depictions of violence. Gore is frequent and the blood-chilling realism of its overall visual direction leads to some genuinely disturbing encounters.

With that in mind, the decision to include a level based around a shooting at a college is a step too far. It is deeply uncomfortable to play through and, given the almost unbelievable frequency of gun violence in schools in the United States, feels massively insensitive.

That aside, playing with friends in co-op mode goes a long way to help alleviate some of the grim atmosphere, shifting the focus instead towards team coordination and tactics. It’s in this setting that Ready or Not is at its absolute best, challenging you all to work together to overcome increasingly dire odds.

 Breach, breach, breach 

Ready or Not

(Image credit: Void Interactive)

Each locked door or open entryway presents a range of opportunities depending on your equipment, the current situation, and your preferred play style. Breaching shotguns, battering rams, and C4 charges all allow a well-coordinated squad to overwhelm their opponents with sheer power and noise. Using your lockpick in conjunction with a mirror gun (a telescopic camera that can sneakily poke under doors), on the other hand, helps you gain a foothold undetected.

No matter your approach, gunfights are almost inevitable and this is another area where Ready or Not excels. The arsenal of weapons on offer is highly detailed, with plenty of options from conventional police pistols, shotguns, and SMGs to heavier assault rifles. They handle impressively realistically, with punchy sound effects and impactful animations. A handful of mechanics more traditionally found in hardcore mil-sims, like aiming stances and checking ammo counts by unloading your weapon, are also present, but bound to such convenient inputs that they quickly become second nature.

Best bit

Ready or Not

(Image credit: Void Interactive)

Successfully pulling off a meticulously coordinated maneuver with your friends just doesn't get old. The feeling of kicking down a door and carefully clearing a room with great efficiency is a reward in itself and provides a fantastic rush of excitement every time. 

When you’re selecting your loadout, it is essential to carefully consider factors like fire rate, bullet penetration, and ammunition caliber before each mission lest you find yourself wholly outgunned or at risk of causing collateral damage. This encourages you to experiment with a wide range of options rather than just sticking to a few old favorites and the ability to add a handful of weapon attachments offers even greater depth.

There is also a solid selection of less lethal options like tasers or beanbag launchers which, thanks to strict rules of engagement that massively penalize you for unnecessary violence, can be a useful way to drive enemies to surrender. Your choice of armor is also hugely important, with increased protection offering the chance to withstand more hits at the expense of movement speed - a basic but effective risk vs reward mechanic.

 Clean house 

Ready or Not

(Image credit: Void Interactive)

There’s a great rhythm to keeping watch for your teammates as you methodically clear room after room. The small element of procedural generation, which spawns enemies and objectives in different locations for every attempt, does a good job of keeping you on edge. Enemy behavior can be surprisingly complex too and it’s not uncommon to encounter foes hiding underneath beds or inside cupboards.

One stand-out mission takes place in a tiny fortified house littered with traps and inhabited by a terrifying ghillie-suited man who can sneak up on your team by crawling through the vents. Enemy fire is lethal, often putting you down in a matter of seconds, which adds tension for the most part but does make the odd moment where systems go wrong incredibly apparent. In a game that demands the fastest reflexes and the most considered strategy, instantly dying to an enemy shooting right through walls due to no fault of your own is incredibly frustrating.


The settings menu in Ready or Not

(Image credit: Void Interactive)

There are a few accessibility options in Ready or Not, including colorblind filters and the ability to highlight dropped enemy weapons in the environment. Although there is no controller support, you can also customize the keyboard control scheme to suit your individual requirements.

These frustrations are doubly apparent in the single player Commander Mode, where your squad of AI teammates is liable to similar issues. There were far too many occasions when my squad would completely freeze up, unable to respond to commands and stood blocking my way. Some of the maps are absolutely massive and, without friends to chat to, trudging around them alone can quickly become a huge drag.

It also becomes a lot easier to notice many of the crude jokes hidden throughout the levels, with gags that feel massively out of place and seem to represent a startling immaturity on the part of the developers. Bursting into the shady den of a dubious video game streamer, it was also hugely disappointing to notice what appeared to be AI generated visual assets plastering the walls. Posters of wonky-looking anime figures are abundant and there are similar assets to be found across other levels, which often undermines the otherwise impressively high-budget look of the game.

What appears to be AI generated art in Ready or Not

(Image credit: Void Interactive)

To top it all off, the handful of new mechanics introduced in this mode are clearly underbaked. Each officer has a trait that manifests itself after a handful of successful missions, but buffs like marginally improved armor really don’t make a tangible difference. You are also tasked with keeping the mental health of your officers in check by scheduling visits to a therapist at the station in order to avoid them quitting the force. This sounds like an intriguing mechanic, but there is little reason to ever engage with it and retain squadmates when a literally endless supply of new officers can be instantly recruited at no cost with just the click of a button.

The sloppiness here sits in stark contrast to the strength of the co-op mode and means that Ready or Not is incredibly hard to recommend to those who don’t have a dedicated team of friends to play with. If you do and are all comfortable with the gruesome subject matter, then this is a decent tactical experience that should scratch that SWAT 4 itch.

For FPS game recommendations, see our guides to the best FPS games and the best free games. 

Dashiell Wood
Hardware Writer

Dash is TechRadar Gaming's Hardware Writer. Before joining TechRadar, he was a print journalist writing articles for some of the UK's biggest gaming magazines including PLAY, Edge, PC Gamer, and SFX. Now, when he's not getting his greasy little mitts on the newest hardware or gaming gadget, he can be found feverishly devouring the latest Nintendo Switch otome.