Strategic spy thriller Phantom Doctrine (opens in new tab) launches today, letting players explore the treacherous world of Cold War espionage through XCOM-like stealth and combat. While predominately a single-player experience, CreativeForge’s game also allows players to compete in head-to-head multiplayer battles.
Given how Phantom Doctrine blends spy fiction with tactical strategy, this makes for an intriguing setup for a multiplayer game. We reached out to the developers to find out how it works.
According to CreativeForge, multiplayer matches can be played across a total of five maps, each offering a very different tactical challenge. “‘Soviet Hotel’ is a traditional boxy arena consisting of many medium-sized rooms,” say CreativeForge. “‘Trainyard’ is a chaotic place with many unexpected lines of fire while ‘Call Center’ is a vast convoluted place that encourages sneaky tactics.”
During setup, players can select from a “large” roster of preconfigured agents roughly divided by class. “Each one of them has a unique profile and encourages players to use a variety of tactics,” say the devs. “Spitfire is a slow tank who will suppress enemies with his machine gun and grant allies safe passage with a smoke grenade. Fixer can mine critical passages and eliminate half the enemy’s team with his cluster bomb if the opposing player is careless enough.”
Emerging victorious in a multiplayer match will require players to take advantage of the extensive range of tactical moves and counter-moves that Phantom Doctrine offers. “Doors become surprisingly powerful tools to play with. Bypassing a single overwatch zone, whether it’s with the help of a smoke grenade or a blinding laser, can determine the outcome of the entire match. A single well-placed poison grenade can lead to victory if the agent who threw it can only stay alive long enough for the poison to take effect.”
In addition, they’ll need to understand some of the unique mechanics that differentiate Phantom Doctrine from XCOM. These include as the Awareness system, which determines how likely an agent is to dodge an enemy attack. Meanwhile, each weapon has multiple firing modes, which can be used tactically to maximise damage or suppress enemy agents. “With teams of up to six such agents, each match becomes a series of unforeseeable events,” the devs say.
Phantom Doctrine impressed Jody Macgregor when he went hands on (opens in new tab) with it back in June.