India has been at the 'starting point' of game development for almost a decade now. And after all this time, you expect a game launch to offer more than just a basic experience even for a new studio. FAUG: Fearless and United Guards created waves when it was first announced in September last year.
The game rode that wave of nationalism and hype to garner over four million pre-registrations. But with the launch of the game today, it all seems like a missed opportunity.
nCore Games, the Bangalore based studio that developed FAUG announced the game back in September last year. The game is backed by the Bollywood celebrity Akshay Kumar, who apparently had a lot of inputs about the game. The launch of the game was delayed from November to December and finally now in January 2021. But in all essence, this feels only like a skeleton of a game.
The game only has a campaign mode as of now and follows a narrative where a soldier in the Galwan Valley has been separated from his squad after a surprise attack by the enemies. The story follows you (the soldier) as you keep taking on AI enemies and move towards a distant checkpoint.
Probably needed a LOT more work
- Next to no content in the game
- Poor dialogues, reminiscent of bad Bollywood films
- AI enemies that put the worst of them to shame
The first and the most prominent impression you get when you play FAUG is that you can hardly call this a game. To start with the main screen has sparse things to do and you can either visit the store or play.
The Store has different skins for the the main character as well the different melee weapons that can be used in the game. These can be bought using either Silver coins or Gold Coins. The gold coins need to be bought with real money while the silver ones can be earned as people progress through the 'Honour Road' battle pass.
Users can change their loadout and equip different weapon skins here and change their character as well.
The Token Store has options to buy the Gold Coins which start at Rs 19 for 30 coins to Rs 2,999 for 4,800 coins. Users can even watch a video to get 5 gold coins.
Besides these there is the option to check out the progress of the 'Honour Road' battle pass from the main menu and this is one way users can earn some free cosmetic items in-game. There is no paid tier to the battle pass yet.
Moving on to the 'Settings' available in the game, this section also comes up short of most things available in the most basic games these days. There is a basic graphics adjust slider that goes up from 'Very Low' to 'Ultra'. Besides this there is the options to adjust the sensitivity as well as the volume.
There is currently only one mode available which is the campaign mode. This mentions that the campaign as 'Tales from the Galwan Valley'. And from the accompanying inactive icons it seems a 5v5 Team Deathmatch mode and a 'Free for All' mode is in the works.
From the looks of it the 'Free for All' mode will in essence be the battle-royale mode nCore Founder and Chairman Vishal Gondal had previously mentioned. The game is currently only single-player with multiplayer on the horizon.
The combat is 'lackluster' to sum into one word. In terms of controls, users are given a control pad that is used to move, and a button to attack and another to block, it's as straightforward as it gets.
The AI enemies are some of the stiffest you'll face, and their motto in life seems to be to line up so the player could just pound them with either fists and kicks or a melee weapon. The combat of the game is pretty much limited to just mashing the attack button. And the only difficulty that ever arises is the limited time in each mission and the sheer number of enemies that you face at a time – every mission is the same in other ways.
In the middle of a fight, if you decide to move away from the enemies, even they will walk away instead of coming after you.
The melee weapons are essentially crafted from tools and break upon use. Do note, you can acquire these weapons from enemies and can't make your own. There's a wooden club with nails, an axe made from a piece of wood an a metal gear and a spear made from a pipe with nails and a knife.
Regenerating health is rather reminiscent of the new trio of Tomb Raider games. Our soldier has to rest by the fire to recuperate health but this consumes time at an accelerated rate, giving it a downside.
But, what turned out to be rather poor was the script and the dialogues in the game. All I could think of was how poor a Bollywood film this game would make. Our protagonist says things like, "Apne bhaiyo ko bachana mera farz hai... aur unko pakadne walo ko marna... maza", "Wo hamesha toh wo borders ke peeche chhup kar nahi reh sakte" and "Mein kareeb pahuch raha hu... wo darr kar bhaag rahe hai". If that wasn't enough, when a skirmish gets a little too hot, the background score adds a layer of "shakti shakti shakti" whispering.
The dialogues of the player seem to be in Hindi while the enemies seem to speak English in a weird Australian accent. While the mention of the Galwan Valley refers to the Sino-India conflict that took place last year, none of the enemies is referred to in a specific nationality. We presume this was a conscious step to avoid controversy.
Monetization, hype and not much more
- The game has some hardcore monetization
- The lack of content indicates an attempt to just cash in on the hype
Nationalism has always been a big seller, and FAUG seems to want to bank upon it. While it does not employ the classic pay-to-win model in the game, it not only has a store to sell in-game cosmetics, but also another one to sell real world merchandise that include tee-shirts and the likes.
The sheer lack of content but an up and ready attitude about merchandising is a classic sign of incorrect priorities. The developers at nCore Games should have ideally taken a lot more time to develop a way more meatier game than releasing a half-baked one that would not miss out on the nationalistic hype it has created.
While taking more time may have lost of the interest that the game generated, it would have created a game that would have attracted more players as it took off after the launch.
FAUG is an incomplete game, in-fact calling it incomplete is a compliment. It does not honestly have half the material to qualify itself as the game it advertised itself to be.
While the work put into the characters and the environment shows future promise, it fails to excite at the moment. It can even be called a disappointment. FAUG can definitely become an evolved game with updates and get rid of some of the obvious bugs in it as well. But at the moment, it is not recommended.
With the shining example of games developed in India like Raji: An Ancient Epic out there, FAUG just reeks of lack of effort. Even without a battle royale mode, it comes nowhere close to PUBG Mobile on any front.