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Get to know your gun as Insurgency: Sandstorm breaks down the anatomy of a reload

Insurgency: Sandstorm

We’ve coverered New World Interactive’s ambitious tactical FPS, Insurgency: Sandstorm in detail already, but this week the developers released one especially tempting morsel of gameplay footage, giving new depth to a gameplay mechanic that we often take for granted.

In the vast majority of shooters, a reload is a reload. You hit the button, you wait two seconds, you resume shooting. But guns are complex machines and an ammo magazine is a mechanism all of its own, so Insurgency is breaking the process of reloading into multiple parts, all controlled with a single key.

War, huh? What is it good for? Simulating in great games like these, mostly. Beyond that? Not so much.

It’s fascinating that even the Arma games, in all their infantry simulation veracity, haven’t really attempted to simulate this process, but Sandstorm looks to be doing things a little differently. As shown, reloading isn’t a purely binary process. Once you’ve removed the magazine from a gun, you can swap out to another weapon, then either resume reloading once you’ve swapped back, or just fire the one bullet (potentially) left in the chamber.

There’s also the option to speed-reload, ejecting the spent magazine straight onto the ground, presumably to be picked up later if you survive. This shaves off a noticeable amount of time from the reload process, but I’d imagine that it’s a risky proposition in the single-player campaign, where you’re probably going to have to juggle resources with the long-term in mind. In multiplayer, I expect this to become the standard method.

It’s an impressive piece of animation work, combined with some thoughtful analysis of a common gameplay system – an impressive step up from Insurgency’s origins as a Source mod turned commercial. One of the few games I can think of that even attempts this level of detail in reloading is Reciever, a short, high-stakes shooter with randomised environments and mechanical enemies.

While no release date has been pinned down for Insurgency: Sandstorm yet, we can at least be pretty sure that it’s launching next year. While dusty tactical shooters have fallen out of vogue this year, this one might just be different enough to make it worth a return visit to the (virtual) middle-eastern theater.