Beyond the Wire PC Preview

Beyond the Wire has too many barriers leading to an empty world.

By Fragnarok, Posted 01 Aug 2022

Beyond the Wire is an early access online-only multiplayer shooter developed by Redstone Interactive and published by Offworld Industries. Players fight in massive 50 vs. 50 player set piece battles from World War I. This includes historic armies like the French Army, Imperial German Army, Canadian Expeditionary Forces, and more. Fights take place across western Europe, mostly between Germany and Belgium. Will the war play out just like real life, or will it all play out differently?

Beyond the Wire, PC, Preview, Map, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed

Players do not freely pick a combat class. Instead, they will first join a “section” that oversees part of the map or specific objective. This may include commanders that stay closer to the base, an infantry unit to lead the charge, or mid-fielders who strategically move around as needed. Each section then has a limited number of classes, typically allowing 5 to 10 members.

The first player in a section will be assigned as Officer, a low damage pistol wielding role who can mark objectives with their binoculars. Another potential is to have Assault units who engage at close range with shotguns, as well as Riflemen that can snipe from the back lines. Each section will also have at least one Medic to help heal wounded allies. The sections then become further specialized with roles like fast-moving Scouts, repair Engineers, or Ammo Carriers for heavy weapons. If every possible section fills up, the remaining players will be a Recruit, a basic but well-rounded grunt.

Beyond the Wire, PC, Preview, Map, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed

The map objective of the default Frontline maps is area control, broken up into either three or five zones. A team wins if they can either capture the opponent’s base or control more zones when the time expires. The middle section begins contested, while each side will have an additional occupied buffer zone on larger maps.

When in a contested zone, teams will need to capture three flags to earn points - the more flags, the faster their meter will build up. At exactly 1000 points, that team will claim the area, and the battle will move to the adjacent zone. Advancing into enemy territory (or retreating beyond one’s base) will begin a desertion timer followed by death after 2-5 seconds.

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The second objective type currently in Beyond the Wire is Assault mode. It works similar to above, but instead of being on equal footing, one side will be attackers controlling a single zone while the other will be defenders with four zones. The defense team cannot entirely eliminate the attackers and must stall them until timeout. The offense side must instead push all the way to the end and can only win by storming the other team’s base. Even if the attackers control four zones, they will still lose if they cannot nab the fifth and final.

Map timers are incredibly long, with larger maps given one hour and smaller maps 30 minutes to complete. This is coupled with how slowly flags collect points and how far characters may need to travel to reach objectives. This means the vast majority of games will end via timeout rather than decisive victory. Often this feels like no real team is making progress, simply slowly grinding towards a stalemate. While this does simulate the dredge of World War I, it is not always fun to play as a game.

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The desertion mechanic is too aggressive, resulting in it being far too easy to retreat without the threat of enemy reprisal. Each team almost always has to directly charge as there is much more limited space to flank or surprise. On the other hand, this does allow for multiple sections to safely mobilize within their territory and march with a frightening amount of reinforcements.

Alas, this massive confrontation is only theoretical. After almost two years of early access development, the online player base is still rather tiny. Most matches will only have around 6-12 players, a far cry from the intended 100 combatants. This also either leads to only single sections being deployed or several sections that are undermanned for their capabilities.

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One cause of this may also be the limited amount of servers, with currently only four available for public access. All of them are located in North America and South America. This leads to issues with latency, time zones, and language barriers. It can be hard enough to organize plans, and those three problems will just worsen it. It makes Beyond the Wire an apparent pass for players in other regions like Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Originally, Beyond the Wire had full bot support as part of its development roadmap. However, earlier in 2022, this feature seems to have been dropped. This could at least breathe some life into the game, as even having basic opponents would be better than a completely barren match. Beyond the Wire is asking a lot for its current $34.99 price tag with no single player or at least low population feature. Another option would be to switch to a freemium price model, allowing new players to trickle in without the risk of purchasing a dead-on-arrival product.

 Beyond the Wire, PC, Preview, Soldiers, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed

Even if Beyond the Wire had the number of players it was designed for, the game itself is fairly buggy. The on-screen user interface always points to the closest flag, even if it is completely secure. This can result in players roaming blindly to help support allies or constantly opening their map to see where to go. The Esc key is used to open the options menu but always records where players closed. This can result in jumping into the server selection, loadout, or another section by accident. Finally, crashes to the desktop were pretty common.

Beyond the Wire has a nice blueprint for a fun massive World War I shooter. But the price of entry is hindering the fan base from growing. If a game is online only, there needs to be some hook to get initial players in and log on frequently. Beyond the Wire is currently stuck in a catch-22 where it must increase the value of its solo experience to make people interested in multiplayer. Otherwise, the game is doomed to be empty even at retail launch.

Kurtis Seid, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Offworld Industries
Developer(s): Redstone Interactive
Genres: First-Person Shooter
Themes: World War I, Massively Multiplayer, Simulation, Strategy
Release Date: 2020-10-22

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