Type: Multiplayer Only
Developer: Giant Enemy Crab
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Release date: 3 Nov, 2020
Hardly a niche genre anymore, tactical shooters have seen a steady rise in both game releases and general interest as the years went by – what was almost a genre dominated by CS:GO almost a decade ago, we’ve seen a rise of team-based tactical shooters since then with Rainbow 6: Siege and VALORANT later taking a slice of the deliciously rewarding yet punishing cake that is the tactical shooter genre.
With such behemoths that play so smoothly and are thought out beyond most other games balance-wise, Due Process comes along in Early Access with a great innovative concept. It doesn’t stand out among the crowd enough due to the current rough state of the beta on top of a daring price-tag (that was temporarily a buy-one-get-one-free) when most of the competition can be found on a hefty sale or for free with AAA quality that Due Process doesn’t quite exhibit yet.
Locked in a room with racks filled with equipment, you can pick whatever gear you wish to carry (up to 5 slots) and discuss tactics with your team. After the planning phase timer is over, defenders spawn wherever they wish and attackers can leave the equipment truck to approach the building from any entrance they wish – some open, others blocked by doors that can be blown up by explosive door charges.
Equipment has plenty of variety and uses (there aren’t that many guns but they all sound and feel really good), from more typical SMG’s and Shotguns to a Night-Vision Sniper Rifle or a Drum-Mag Automatic Shotgun, there is a lot of variety of combat possibilities with the weapons although weapon variety itself isn’t the greatest. Most weapons also have abysmal sights (mostly the ones using Iron Sights) so a system to attach an optical sight would be greatly appreciated.
Equipment is limited and the racks will be emptied as rounds go. If you die, your equipment is gone and you can’t retrieve it or use it again in the following rounds (until the half ends and the second half resets the equipment as well as switches sides). So if you died with the last MP5K in your hands, nobody has access to an MP5K in the next round. Weapons amounts are inversely proportionate to their firepower – high damage weapons such as the sniper rifle or a DMR aren’t all that many (there’s only 1 sniper available for each team in an entire half) so pick your gear carefully so you don’t cripple your team’s planning for the remaining rounds of the half.
There’s obviously more than guns – starting with ammo, you have to pick up the ammo for your guns and that’s limited as well so don’t mindlessly fill your belt with ammo or you may screw your teammates who also need it. Other items that are more utility driven are present too – flashbangs and smoke grenades, barbed wire, molotovs or the above mentioned door charges. All of these are limited supply so think before you pick 2 or 3 items mindlessly if they don’t fit your position or team role for the round otherwise you may screw yourself (and your team) in the process.
Anyway, shall we fight?
Once planning is done for the round, 5 defenders and 5 attackers deploy as they fight for the victory – either by elimination the opponent team or by completing the bomb objective. Defenders have a bomb planted that must defend it until it blows up (which works as the round timer and is a little over 2 minutes) while attackers must defuse it before the time runs out. Defusing is a percentage bar that fills and doesn’t reset so if your friend defused up to 50%, you only have to defuse the remaining 50% to win!
Very typical tactical shooter objectives don’t mean the rest are as typical and the procedural generation of the maps begins this uniqueness that Due Process is so proud of. Maps rotate weekly – generated and handpicked by the developers, the newly generated maps are then introduced in a weekly basis to keep things fresh for the community…
… which isn’t all that big, sadly.
Probably my biggest criticism of the game is how populated it is. Averaging less that 500 players as of November 2020, Due Process introduces 3 big issues with this:
– The lack of a varied ranked community: my time with the game saw the ranked playlist filled with about 20-30 players on average, meaning that 3 matches between 2 teams of 5 were happening with no hope for players to join unless someone left.
– The remaining playerbase in the casual playlist was, in our matches, filled with mostly players who stuck with the game for a while so the skill gap is massive for newcomers, making the game very unwelcoming to new players. At the price of 20€, it’s hard to convince someone to buy a game such as Due Process which doesn’t protect new players from veterans. Learning is part of the adventure of a tactical shooter but getting obliterated in 5 minutes isn’t really learning at all, honestly. Other games have a “newbie” playlist and allows for a more friendly introduction to a complicated game belonging in a complicated genre.
– People not in standard regions such as NA or EU will have a hard time finding enough players in their region, thus having to increase the radius to servers outside of their region and playing with high pings, being far less fun for the both the player and the rest of the team he’s playing with.
Despite these consequences, the game still is playable and the numbers can only go higher if well marketed. Despite this, I still feel a “low level” playlist is mandatory to better introduce new players in order to not make them quit the game after 2 or 3 matches.
But how does it really PLAY?
Quite well! The movement is slow and guns kick like a mule but it works in the genre, the gunplay is great despite how underpowered shotguns feel and a bit of stiff animations transitions between aiming stances or simply when switching gear. Gun balance doesn’t seem to be quite right yet either.
You can crouch but not peek through corners so if you’re crossing a corner, be sure to do so fast to catch your enemy off guard. Gunplay is strong, with well detailed weapon models and animations. The damage profile is high as you’ll usually kill enemies fast, either through a single headshot or by a quick, controlled automatic burst.
For balance reasons, attackers have +50HP, which still doesn’t stop them from dying very fast anyway, but is an interesting design choice I felt needed mentioning though I don’t feel like it’s a noticeable buff over the defenders.
Watching corners for lurking defenders is crucial in any tactical shooter and Due Process is no different, careful thinking and attention to your aim is needed, paired with solid reaction times. Usage of gear is also crucial and smoking a bomb 10 seconds into the round and ninja defusing it is as awesome as it is in any other game with a similar game mode. Entering the place as attackers is a tactical challenge itself as multiple entries are available but some need to be opened with door charges (which are limited) so careful planning of both flanking routes and which doors to blow is crucial, to not only ensure victory but also ensure you don’t waste resources and basically have to sprint to your death without any gear in the final round.
At the core, anyone who’s played Siege, CS:GO or VALORANT will feel almost right at home with Due Process. The concept and general gameplay style is similarly tactical and definitely unique enough to warrant a try, due to the weekly fresh maps that appear and the awesome map that allows for further tactical communication.
Touching on the map, it’s a real time view of the level you’re playing on, you can draw on it and you’ll see the drawing on the ground when you play. It’s also worth noting that upon dying you won’t spectate the other players but instead spectate the map with the players rendered in real time in the top down view of the map which gives a great understanding of the team’s movements and allow team leaders to communicate to their mates new tactics mid-round.
A final criticism of the game is that there were maps that weren’t very good – I’ve had maps with very little entries and others that were almost wide open from every side, which can feel a bit too unbalanced for the team attacking and defending, respectively. The random generation doesn’t help in the learning phase as you’re constantly changing maps every match and every week so be sure to focus on the game being about you approaching a situation/layout you’re never quite familiar with.
Overall, Due Process needs some cleaning as far as animation flow and overall responsiveness is concerned but the core gameplay is already really solid. The unique mechanics are great and make it feel fresh. The game is, however, not very friendly to new players and while I’m okay with learning the game the hard way, I doubt everyone is on board with that philosophy so the lack of a “new player” playlist is quite bothersome.
Not a bad game to look at, the usage of Unity is great as the game has a fantastic blend of Pixelated graphics and well textured 3D models. From characters to guns, it all looks great and the attentio nto detail on the maps is really good too, blending a simple style but also a believably detailed environment seamlessly.
It’s such a shame it runs terribly beyond words, though.
The game has 1 (!!) graphical setting which defines the entire graphical quality: High or Low. Aside from V-Sync, Window Mode and Resolution, that’s it. If your PC is equal or above the recommended specs, good luck enjoying the game because even on my aging yet still competent Nvidia 1060 6Gb + Intel i7 7700K CPU, the game chugs and almost NEVER hits 60FPS, usually having me play between 30 and 40 frames. For a game requiring such high degrees of skill, precision aiming and patience, it’s quite hard for me to play this for longer when games such as CS:GO or Siege that looks far more demanding also run far, far better – beyond any framerate I could have in this game on minimum graphics and resolution.
Instability also occurs as I had a friend of mine crash one every match on average so there is definitely some extreme work to do as far as the technical side is concerned – not graphically itself as the game looks unique and quite stellar, frankly but on the performance side.
Audio wise, the game has a small and quite forgettable soundtrack but you’re here for the sound mixing in the game – the gunfire, the footsteps and explosions, enemy noises and overall voice chat quality.
It’s all pretty great. hardly anything to critique, the sound quality of the voice chat is phenomenal and there is a clear ruleset for how sound works, hearing footsteps, what guns are being used and in which location of the map – it’s all well done enough to make every audio cue useful tactical information and not a poor mixing that more often than not would confuse you to your death.
A rough beta stage with a small community and rather serious performance issues, Due Process is still a valiant attempt at a tactical shooter that stands out among a very competitive crowd – it’s not quite done yet and it’s a daring price to pull the trigger as I review this but it’s 100% a game to keep your eye on in the near future. Potential beyond words is the key here.