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Creating Immersion and Intensity in Insurgency: Sandstorm

Hello everyone. I’m both proud and excited to say that on September 29, we’ll be releasing our immersive modern multiplayer shooter Insurgency: Sandstorm on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. To mark this awesome occasion, I’d like to share how we’ve worked to make Insurgency one of the most immersive and realistic first person shooters out there through game design, sound design, and attention to detail.

The identity of Insurgency: Sandstorm is very clear to us, and we think most fans would agree: it’s equal parts authenticity and intensity. It’s the earth raining down around you after an airstrike, coughing through the smoke, bullets whining through the air, and coordinating with your squad through it all. It’s all these things, without resorting to bombastic film tropes or over-the-top arcade gameplay. We want you to taste the grit on your tongue and feel each impact in the roots of your teeth.

We’ve dedicated a lot of time and research into creating realistic and immersive environments, equipment, sounds, and weapon handling. Let’s dive into how we’ve done that.

Creating Immersion and Intensity in Insurgency: Sandstorm

UI: Setting the Stage for War

One of the first things you’ll note in Insurgency: Sandstorm is the stripped back UI. We want as little as possible to distract you from the environment and what’s happening around you. For example, there’s no kill feed or signal to confirm a kill. If you want to be certain you downed someone, you have to go check. This opens up a whole new dynamic of risk and even mind-games. If you’re in a firefight and take a non-lethal hit, perhaps you can slink away, letting your enemy think they got you while you’re actually setting up a flank.

You’ll also notice the lack of a weapon reticle, unless you have a red dot sight. Even with that, you have to be aware of where your muzzle is pointing, because that’s where the bullets will go, rather than the center of your screen, as is the case in many other shooters. Another detail is that aiming down scopes doesn’t zoom your entire field-of-view, but rather realistically only magnifies the scope portion of your view.

Insurgency: Sandstorm

Each weapon and attachment has been painstakingly researched and modeled, even down to the smallest spring in some cases. While the conflict in Insurgency is fictional, we’ve interviewed soldiers, both military and indigenous militias, to ensure an accurate representation, also in regards to the war-torn environments you’ll fight through.

There’s no ammo count, unless you pause to actually check. We did however leave a very rough approximation of how much ammo is in a clip in the corner of the screen. If you reload an unfinished clip, that clip is saved for later; it doesn’t combine with an imaginary ammo pool. If the situation demands it, you can opt for a speed reload, where you drop and sacrifice your unfinished clip to reload faster.

Although we’ve put a lot of effort into details such as this, we’ve made conscious compromises with pure realism, such as for grenade explosions. In reality, an exploding grenade looks mostly like a puff of smoke. In Insurgency, we wanted to amplify the effect, and the result is that you’ll see a burst of flame, streaks of shrapnel, and debris bouncing off surfaces. It’s a slight exaggeration that enhances the immersion.

Insurgency: Sandstorm

Sound: Rooting Your Senses in the Environment

Thanks to the minimal UI, sound becomes a major factor in gathering information on the battlefield. We’ve therefore focused a lot of work into creating a sound design which allows you to draw several conclusions just by listening. Footsteps are a huge part of this. Be aware of the sound you make, and listen for the type of material, such as carpet or wood, and if they’re on the floor above or below you.

You can paint a picture just by listening to gunfire as well. Since Security and Insurgent teams use different sets of weapons, you can determine if it’s an enemy or ally. You’ll also be able to tell their location, if they’re outside or inside, what kind of room they’re in (big, small, metal, concrete, etc), and even which direction they’re facing. Some of these things take more practice than others; identifying a weapon by its sound is definitely an acquired skill.

All of this, including voice work like AI callouts and your own character panicking and coughing through smoke and gunfire, combines to create a very immediate and immersive environment.

Insurgency: Sandstorm

Lethality and Physicality: Play as if Your Life Depended on It

Time to kill in Insurgency: Sandstorm is very low – one or two shots is usually all it takes. The run-and-gun playstyle that’s common in many shooters will mostly get you killed in Insurgency: Sandstorm. You can definitely sprint, but it’ll cost you a lot in accuracy and you’re more likely to give away your position. A tactical approach will give you better results. A good rule of thumb is to only engage when in an advantageous position.

We designed the movement to feel realistic, all while balancing it with a high degree of responsiveness and control. Insurgency: Sandstorm uses a stamina system, where the lower your stamina is, the more weapon sway you’ll have. You can choose to deploy with a full set of gear and kevlar, but it’ll weigh you down, increasing your stamina consumption and slowing recovery. With a lot of weight, sprinting will be very costly.

One of our features focused on immersion is what we call Suppression. When under fire, your weapon sway increases, and your vision is obscured. You can imagine that taking cover under a thin stone wall while a machine gun chips away at it is a very stressful situation, and your character’s dialogue, voice, and performance reflect this.

Insurgency: Sandstorm

We’re so excited to bring Insurgency: Sandstorm to Xbox. It’s the culmination of years of work, from the previous Insurgency, to Sandstorm on PC; the sound, stripped-back UI, lethality, overall attention to detail, and specific compromises in realism are all designed to work together to create a thrilling, authentic, and surprising experience.

Insurgency: Sandstorm releases September 29 alongside the Deluxe edition (including Year 1 Pass) and the Gold Edition (including the Year 1 and Year 2 Pass). Be sure to pre-order Insurgency: Sandstorm to get the Warlord and Peacemaker Gear Sets.

Thanks for dropping by! See you in the field, soldier!

Insurgency: Sandstorm (pre-order)

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Insurgency: Sandstorm (pre-order)

Focus Home Interactive


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Pre-order now to receive two bonus skin packs: the Warlord Gear Set and the Peacemaker Gear Set!

Engage in realistic modern firefights in the definitive tactical FPS on consoles!

Battle in the war-torn environments of a contemporary conflict through a series of intense cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes. Featuring unparalleled immersion, feel every bullet and fear every impact in fierce close quarters combat.

Death comes fast. Manage ammunition carefully, and use tactics and teamwork to navigate environments as you fight towards victory. Coordinate fire support with your team and go head to head in thrilling action.

– Team up in intense 8-player co-operative gameplay
– Compete in objective-based PVP matches with up to 20 players
– Get immersed with realistic ballistics and stunning attention to detail
– Fully customize your character and weapons
– Unprecedented audio design with positional voice-chat for a heart-pounding atmosphere

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