Player progression is divided into 12 military ranks and 46 ribbons and medals, which, once earned, unlock game features. The key game feature is the badge (think: character class). There are six badges, unlocked through progression (except the default Rifleman), each possessing a primary ability and secondary ability, and linked to certain weapon groups. The badges are:
- Rifleman: default badge; no special abilities
- Engineer: erect automated turret (primary); repair skill (secondary)
- Medic: revive teammates; deploy health packs
- Scout: cloaking suit; tag enemies with hidden marker (they become revealed on team radar)
- Assault: heavy armor; sprint boost
- Tactician: green smoke grenades (they're spawn points!); AI sentry bot (it's the COD4 helicopter but cooler)
- Saboteur: enemy disguise; proximity-activated C4 charge
Clans are another unlockable, with the draw being "valor" points, a sort of team currency. Valor points are wagered before clan matches and tournaments, with the winning team earning the pot. Perennial losers will be able to claw back from broke by entering no-fee tournaments (facing a field of up to 256 clans) ... and, gulp, winning. Less dedicated players have the option to create more casual alliances, squads, which can be formed mid-match via a menu screen, linking up to 4 players (two squads or 8 players form a faction). Squad benefits include the ability to spawn on the heels of the designated squad leader, a private headset channel (accessible even from the grave) and shared HUD data.
Guerrilla is attempting to design a multiplayer game that "inspires" teamwork, and the missions are clearly orientated toward team-play:
- Body Count
- Capture & Hold
- Search & Destroy
- Search & Retrieve
Loads of game data will be tracked -- more than 100 stats in all -- across a robust series of leaderboards, which will be integrated into Killzone.com. The site will also include a clan management feature used for tweaking your team's roster or posing challenges to opposing clans. Global servers promise those challenges can be flung overseas for intercontinental warfare.
Killzone 2 multiplayer is doing a lot right, not a lot new. (There are a few tweaks to the formula: a "spawnmap overview" includes a real-time camera capturing the current activity at any given spawn point as you decide where to redeploy.) But the key to success is in the execution. And that's months away.
What else...? Public beta confirmed (again). "Later this year."