Gun Media and former Infinity Ward developer Robert Bowling's new mobile game, tactical military hybrid Breach and Clear, aims to bring a tightly-knit tactical military experience to players who want a quick mobile fix.
In the game, players are tasked with raiding areas and clearing them of enemies, or "breaching and clearing," as the military term explains.
The game will release with four starting maps: a dusty Turkish bazaar, an underground Afghanistan bunker, a German Black Forest outside environment and a Chinese cargo tanker in a thunderstorm. Each map has four separate areas that must be breached and cleared of enemies. Maps can be switched between three-quarter and top down views as well as rotated to allow a clear view of the layout from all angles. The structure of these maps will fundamentally remain the same each time they are played, but enemies will always spawn in different locations.
According to Gun Media director of marketing Ronnie Hobbs, the company plans to release more environments and squad types in the future. These, like the full Breach and Clear game, will be free and available to all players.
"This is free-to-play, we're not going to do that," Hobbs told Polygon. "We're not going to say, ‘Hey, your gun is rusted, give us a dollar.' No one wants to hear that kind of crap. We don't want our name to be attached to anything like that."
Premium weapons will be available, Hobbs said, but using them won't give player a significant advantage over those with free weapons. This ensures the playing field is kept even, should Gun Media add multiplayer in the future, said Hobbs.
"We don't want anyone to have an advantage over anyone else," he said. "You can unlock guns and stuff through XP, but you won't be able to buy an advantage."
Players can also choose from different types of military teams, including Army Rangers, Navy Seals, Army Special Forces and the Canadian JTF2s. Each team is made of four soldiers whose arsenal and abilities can be customized. The game also integrates with Facebook, allowing players to create soldiers using names on their friends list.
"I have the desire to bring a very deep console experience to that mobile device."
While playing a pre-alpha version of the game, I took a team of Canadian JTF2s into a run-down building in Turkey. The room had two entry points, labeled A and B, and I had to decide how many and what members of my four-man squad would storm through which doors. Each soldier's range of movement is displayed during the placement phase, similar to placing units in Fire Emblem. Soldiers can be placed by tapping a circle and then swiping the circle again to change the direction he will face, and ultimately the area he will cover.
At the start of each map, enemy placement is unknown. Players will have to storm rooms in order to reveal enemy locations. After sending two soldiers through each door, two men popped up on my mini-map. As soon as all my men had fired, the turn ended, allowing me to select my soldiers' next moves. I repeated the process and in three turns, all enemies in the building had been cleared.
"For us, we used a device that feels right for the game we're going for," Bowling told Polygon. "We wanted to do a turn-based tactical game, and touch-based controls like on iPad or Smartphone felt right [for it]. There are a lot more audiences going to that [sector], me included, and as I get older, even though I have the desire to sit on my couch and play eight hours of a console game, I don't have the luxury to do it. I have the desire to bring a very deep console experience to that mobile device."
"When it comes to mobile, I want to be able to quickly get in the game and quickly have fun."
Breach and Clear essentially boils tactical shooters down to the meaty part: the combat. Bowling said the game was designed for users to pick up the game and play anywhere, allowing players to participate on their own time and without that need to be parked on a couch.
"It allows you the freedom to just pick up and play," he said. "You don't have to really invest in anything outside the core game mechanics. When it comes to mobile, I want to be able to quickly get in the game and quickly have fun."
Bowling said the team treats the tactical strategy title more like a puzzle game, considering each map a riddle for players to solve. A turn-based tactical game felt like a good fit for a title seeking to boil down the console experience, not mimic it, and tailor it to bite-sized experiences.
Both Hobbs and Bowling mention the possibility of multiplayer in the future, with Bowling stating it will "definitely" be coming sometime down the line. The team at Gun Media has had multiplayer in mind since development began on the game, but they aren't ready to discuss further details.
Breach and Clear will be available for iOS and Android this spring.