Rogue Company and the Benefits of Offering Different Gameplay Modes

“This game is missing…something.”

Speaking with my brother over Discord as we were playing Rogue Company, we were struggling to find the enjoyment out of this tactical shooter developed by Hi-Rez Studios. Hours of play in the game’s more competitive-focused Demolition and Extraction modes, we took great issue with the pace of play.

Almost ready to give up on the game entirely, we tried out the game’s final mode: Strikeout. After an hour or so of competing in this mode, we almost did a complete about face on the entire game.

Before diving into the particulars, let’s take a step back. Rogue Company is a third-person team-based shooter. Squads of four go head-to-head in one of three different modes: Demolition, Extraction, and Strikeout.

Demolition is akin to Search and Destroy in the Call of Duty series.  One team is tasked with setting up a bomb and protecting it for the duration of the round. The other has to diffuse the bomb or kill the opposition. Extraction is more of a classic control mode where teams fight to hold a particular position on the map.

In both modes, you don’t get to respawn when you die. This leads to a lot of tension and a greater importance precision play. But it can also lead to a lot of down time, especially if you get downed first. Even if you survive, rounds are short and are broken up with a loadout phase. You end up spending a sizable amount of time on that screen, which really stifled the pace of play for us.

Then there’s Strikeout. Teams compete in a last-team-standing deathmatch where each side shares a pool of respawns. Once those respawns are gone, that’s it.

While the deathmatch nature of this mode makes it inherently more casual, Randy and I had way more fun here. What sets this mode apart for us was the shared pool of respawns. Death in this mode is a bit more of an inconvenience than a permanent stoppage of play, allowing us to quickly jump back into the action. Within each round, we felt like we got a satisfactory amount of participation, even during matches where we got destroyed.

As someone with tends to play games with a competitive tilt, this serves as a reminder that having more ways to play beyond the main focus gives players more ways to enjoy the same game. Going as far back as the Nintendo 64 Mario Party games, I didn’t understand why my brother and cousins would skip the board game part and play the modes with just the mini games. In retrospect, they probably got more out of the game playing it that way.

Even in modern times, I still see players make the most of secondary modes. Many of my friends prefer to play Overwatch with the classic rules over the modern 2-2-2 format. There are Call of Duty players who only play those games for their single-player campaigns. In the fighting game world, some of the hardest of hardcore players spend most of their time in training mode. Instead of playing live matches, they use the dummy opponent to explore combo mechanics or workshop solutions to specific combat scenarios.

In this particular case, Strikeout mode in Rogue Company saved the game for me. It may not be the most serious way to play, but it’s the way that’s most entertaining based on my tastes. As long as I’m having fun and not hurting the experience for others, there’s no reason for me to shame myself for my preferred way of play.

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