There are six different classes in total that can pair up to form interesting compliments to each other; however, from the first moments of Medal of Honor: Warfighter multiplayer, Danger Close oddly chose to have one class unlocked. It takes a few hours before you have them all unlocked, as I experienced during a recent private multiplayer event. (You can sample the multiplayer now in an exclusive Xbox Live beta.)
The initial barriers to other classes is a very odd design decision, meant to ease you into the experience. For someone like myself who has played tons of shooters and is well-versed in class-based multiplayer, it was an unnecessary stopgap and only served to invalidate the single best feature in multiplayer: fire teams.
After a few hours, I had several classes unlocked and was familiar with each, bringing out the true power of the fire team mechanic. There are tons of different combinations for different situations – a particularly effective combo involved the demolitions class, a walking tank with extra body armor and an automatic shotgun. The demolitions class has a visor that can be lowered for even greater defense, making for a great mobile shield the other player can hide behind.
In addition to having a pal in battle, fire teams provide an added benefit of sharing ammo and being able to see your teammate through walls. Your team mate is highlighted in green and when engaged by the enemy, flashes red. In the situation where you're paired with a stranger who doesn't use their headset, it's a handy tool allowing for tactical maneuvering. Let them go into a room and you can flank.
Sticking with your partner is essential. Doing anything while in proximity of your pal increases earned points, for example. Team actions in Medal of Honor: Warfighter like securing objectives, assisting in kills and taking down enemies yields greater rewards as well. It's also much easier to unlock your class-specific bonus weapons: get a kill streak and you may choose between two different bonuses, like a grenade launcher, mobile radar jammer or unmanned drones.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter multiplayer creative director Kristoffer Bergqvist told me it'd take 60 hours to unlock everything included in multiplayer, but adds that progress never really reaches a ceiling. Along with Battlelog integration, you can unlock Warfighter Tokens in-game, which can be spent on the web portal to give you XP boosts within the game. The integration includes some standard features, too, such as forming a clan and scouring stats and leaderboards.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter features a lot of the same elements found in other multiplayer shooters, but the fire team mechanic adds a new wrinkle that makes it easier to excel. Getting one pal to play online versus finding an entire squad to coordinate is a simpler, and more realistic scenario as well. Functionally and mechanically it's a very viable system.
While at first glance Medal of Honor: Warfighter may seem like it doesn't do much to differentiate itself from other military shooters, the fire team mechanic is interesting enough to help it stand out. I just wish I had access to all of the classes right away so I could have seen the feature's potential much sooner.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter launches for the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on October 23.