PUBG developers Krafton’s latest game, a top-down tactical shooter, Thunder Tier One released on December 7. Personally, I spent a long time watching and reading their developer updates and was so into it from the start. Also spent a long time playing it from day-one and with this review, we will look at to what extent our expectations from the game have been realized. Is the game that they promised really came out? Let’s take a look together.
Saving a country back in 90s
Thunder Tier One is a military-sim set in the early 1990’s. As players, we lead a special ops team of four and witness their moments full of tension. This team is known as “Thunder Tier One” and your main target is to dismantle the SBR. SBR is a terrorist organization that taken over the fictional Eastern European country of Salobia.
Characters that you can control and command have a short backstory, but when this storytelling comes to the mission briefing they did an amazing job. Missions got very detailed stories and a detailed map of the operation area. Which comes handy especially when you are going to an area for the first time. It is possible to make plans for a region that you will see for the first time on this screen. And when we get into the area, the UAV will also help us a lot. No worries, as I will explain the UAV later in the review.
Thunder Tier One got an incredibly short story mode but the operation areas design, gameplay mechanics, and co-op with your friends covers this pretty well. Story mode only had 9 different chapters, which took almost three hours for me to finish all of them perfectly. Oh, and almost one hour of these three hours was discovering the map for better strategies. When we came to the different playstyles and gameplay mechanics, adding an elevation to a top-down shooter was perfect for a strategy game. They used this to make you think even more for your strategies. Also you can play with any playstyle that you want. You want four LMGs, lots of explosives and rain hellfire on your enemies like 4 Juggernauts in a small house? Sure, the game says, as you wish. You want to play stealthy? They got you covered too. You can even put your squads snipers to high grounds to cover you while you are going after the HVT.
These chapters have different objectives too. As objectives, sometimes you need to clear the headquarters, sometimes you only need to get an intel about your next mission, or securing HVT’s, rescuing hostages etc. And all of these missions are doable with your playstyle. But as there’s no restrictions you can also kill the HVT’s or hostages without even knowing which ends up as a mission fail.
As I mentioned before, mission areas are designed so well that you can think of dozens of different tactics to play through it. But if it’s your first time in the area, you need to spend lots of time learning the area. Mission briefing helps with that a lot but UAV’s are a better option when you are in the field. When you start to use the UAV more effectively it takes the game’s pressure a lot. And if you don’t plan to use the UAV actively and effectively, you’ll get a sweet, hard and a painful experience.
So, what does the UAV do exactly? UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) rotates around the operation area to give your crew a full view of the area. UAV is equipped with thermal mode so you can even see the enemies at night and while they are in a building. You can even control your teammates while you are using UAV to complete the objective like you are not there, and just controlling your squad. I will explain the team controlling mechanic later in the review.
This game has an unbalanced difficulty system. There’s two different difficulty levels, letting players pick between an arcade mode and a realistic mode, which is nice for those who are less experienced with military jargon or just looking for a more relaxed campaign. In Realism mode, you cannot see who is looking where on the interface, and just for a few seconds you will know the location of the enemies you see. I finished the game completely in Realism mode and especially when you play an area for the first time, you are going to die, like a lot. This happens until you learn the map thoroughly, then you will start to progress by using new tactics or by putting it on your tactic with every death. After learning the maps, the only challenge will be your AI teammates (if you are playing alone) as they sometimes act weird.
Brother In Arms
The AI mostly works as intended, without a problem. But sometimes it feels like someone out there is trying to prank you as they act that much weird. Sometimes AI teammates can run and alert the enemy base while you are trying to go all stealth, at least it works good mostly so this is not annoying. Moreover, I thought that the control of artificial intelligence in this style, in a game that focuses on detail and realism, would be quite complicated and it would turn into annoying micro-playing, especially in bigger sections of the game. But they did a great job with this, the game mechanics about controlling your team are quite successful. You can control your teammates with a single button. You can also customize their equipment as you can customize yours. They have the same customization options as our own characters in terms of customizations for teammates, weapon changes, weapon attachments and support equipment, but unless you give them the right commands, you don’t see much benefits of these customizations for artificial intelligence.
One of the nice things about being able to control your teammates is, of course, that you can apply the tactics you have in mind precisely. When you want to advance in a wide, open area, you can have one of your teammates throw smoke bombs in front of you, and have the other one to throw a stun bomb in a corner where you don’t know what’s behind. Thus, you can safely neutralize the enemies from that corner with the last soldier you control.
In addition to customizing the AI characters, there are 19 characters to choose from. These 19 characters have different classes, backstories, appearances and traits. In addition, these 19 characters have different weapon sets suitable for their classes and backgrounds. These traits are the stats for Dexterity, Agility and Accuracy. These features are different for all 19 characters, but these values do not have much effect on the in-game efficiency of artificial intelligence. They look different, but it feels the same. When it comes to your own character though, customizing weapons and your values that affect your character traits will definitely make a difference that you can realize.
Also, one of the biggest minuses for me is that your teammates don’t carry on between missions. This may be due to the fact that the game is designed to be played by a group of 4 rather than a single person, but the fact that your dead teammates can come to the other mission completely normally, not experiencing any improvement or injury between missions is a big minus in a game that is so realistic in terms of gameplay.
Weapon of Choice
Despite being not an FPS game, weapons in this game feels awesome. The guns, sound design of them and customization options feels great. There’s total of 30 weapon choices right now, 6 being handguns and the rest are Shotgun, SMG, LMG, AR, DMR and SR. And God, they did a great job with these guns’ characteristics and sounds! Even firing in different areas (like in a cave, house, empty yard) has different sound effects. Don’t forget to check the great AS VAL and that sweet sound of it.
Alongside the guns, you can also get equipments like stun bombs, hand grenades, smoke bombs, and incendiarys. All these grenade types can be useful, sometimes even more. Like while you are in a narrow hallway, using stuns or smokes to cover that narrow spot would be even crucial at some point. The game is really designed for using these bombs, so don’t forget to spend your inventory points for adding more equipments to your all characters.
My expectations about the gun customization were a lot more, I’m disappointed by that. But even with these options, it still feels great. For muzzles, you can only use silencers for example. Different types of lasers or flashlights for the under barrel section and an extended option for the mags. Adding a scope like red dot or holo makes your shot more accurate and if you wish to use ACOG or Marksman Scopes, it zooms in at your pointer to make even more accurate shots.
Alongside the inventory customizations, you can also customize maps as you like. After you finish any operation area in campaign mode, you’ll unlock those in the Single Mission section. With that, you can customize the time, weather, detailed difficulty options from enemy numbers to damage multipliers. You can even customize the UAV. The UAV holds an important place until you learn the areas. There’s lots of patrols going around the map, so be careful.
Even More Customization
Steam Workshop is supported by the developers from day one, which is great for a game like this. Even greater if you are into playing with mods or making mods. There were not many mods while I was playing but the community will deliver as time passes. I liked the Desert Eagle .50 Mod and actually tried to beat a community map with this(And I did it!). When we look into games like Door Kickers for Steam Workshop, there’s no doubt that Thunder Tier One’s modding will go larger soon. But there’s a downside for this. When you want to play with mods, cosmetics or weapons or even a challenging map there’s no XP gain. Therefore I was stuck at 10 levels even after I finished the game. There’s also some “challenges” to level up faster but the problem with leveling is it feels like that it’s all about a number to show off. Challenges wants you to play in specific weathers, times or gamemodes. Leveling rewards you with camos and some new equipment but it does not hype you up to level up. So leveling up for rewards is not worth it in my opinion, and this feels like you are not going anywhere, not progressing.
Let’s Wrap It Up
Thunder Tier One, sadly, doesn’t have any of the challenges, statistics or feel of progress unlike its competitors. This means you can finish this game even in one go, all it offers for me is 9 story missions and free play option. But even these 9 missions fed me up so well with its gameplay and different mechanics. And it’s the perfect co-op game that I needed for so long. You can even spice things up with the mods and this is enough for now. But the game sadly doesn’t have enough content to keep it up. With all these in mind, Thunder Tier One has great graphics with an amazing optimisation, and if you have friends to play co-op with, it is more than enough to enjoy. But after a few hours, you’ll probably find that there’s not enough content to enjoy other than the mechanics and gameplay.
Especially in an era like this, Thunder Tier One feels amazing especially with it’s co-op play as we don’t have many co-op tactical games. You want to play carefully, thinking even two steps forward or you’ll face the consequences and you’ll learn it the hard way. This is like a “point, click and shoot” game, but with detailed and realistic mechanics, gameplay feels great. These alongside great graphics and sound design, the game is worth trying. It doesn’t have enough content for solo play but with friends, it feels great.