As a hybrid MMORPG and RTS game, Foxhole has chosen for itself a unique set of challenges. Perhaps the biggest of these is the question of getting players to run the logistics side of a massive war – how do you make it fun and interesting to do the ‘boring’ work of producing and transporting the gear that the frontline soldiers need to keep fighting? Surprisingly, Foxhole seems to pull that off, and the massive Inferno Update that arrives alongside its departure from Early Access on September 28 makes the logistics game even more compelling.
In Foxhole, thousands of players cooperate as individual soldiers fighting for control of an enormous map. Each bullet, each artillery shell, and each uniform must be produced and transported to the place where it’s needed, and through Foxhole’s Early Access phase, all this production has happened in factory towns well back from the front lines.
To date, players have worked in and around these towns, scavenging resources and staffing the factories where they produce the equipment, then driving it up to the front in trucks or ships. The new Inferno Update adds some important new layers to this side of the game: now, players can build facilities outside the established towns, choosing new locations for industrial plants and shipping ports.
“What these do is they extend the capability of the normal logistics towns, and allow you to scale up past what the original logistics towns are able to do,” Foxhole’s creator Mark Ng tells us. “Now, they don’t replace them – there are still a lot of things that you can only do at the logistics towns. But at the player-built logistics spaces, they’re able to build new things that you can’t build at the fixed towns.”
One of those new things is Foxhole’s fully functional rail system, complete with huge locomotives that can haul bigger supply loads around the map much more efficiently than trucks can manage. Players can build train tracks and loading docks, where cranes can be used to pack crates of ammo, weapons, and other supplies onto trains of up to 14 cars. Trains can also transport tanks and infantry, and can include defensive cars armed with guns – an important point, since trains will make for irresistible strategic targets for the enemy.
Ng says the new facilities system should be familiar to anyone who’s played Satisfactory or Factorio. It’s streamlined here, since transportation and production are only part of the story in Foxhole, but it adds some fascinating depth to this more ‘mundane’ side of the war. Players have to carefully lay out their power grids, as well as supply the fuel and raw materials necessary to keep their facilities running.
Inferno also includes new weapons to use on the front lines, including flamethrowers, rail-mounted artillery guns, flame tanks, and incendiary rocket artillery. The heavy battle tank class returns with Inferno, and it’s joined by the new super tank class – absolutely massive armoured vehicles that Ng says constitute Foxhole’s pinnacle activity. Super tanks, he explains, are meant to be a clan activity, something that takes a significant commitment from a group of players to produce and field.
With so many moving parts in such massive online wars, there are countless ways in which Foxhole could have gone disastrously wrong. Nonetheless, it works astonishingly well, and thousands of players routinely log in to participate in online wars that last for more than a month at a time.
Inferno is out now, and you can head over to Steam to ship out in Foxhole yourself. It’s currently discounted 25% for its 1.0 launch week.