Yeah, Helios' hard work and commitment to quality abundantly shows.
I told him that it blows my mind what he's achieved alone in comparison to what the Ground Branch team has accomplished, which I also own. At this point in time, Ground Branch's AI pales in comparison to what's encoded in Black Day now.
A handful of the environments are still obviously under construction in Black Day. Please keep in mind that Helios' game is still in early access, and that those maps that are done/nearly done are captivating and convincing. There are a ton of maps, and the weather effects are overwhelming. The snow effects on the winter time maps - gah! If you haven't suffered from the real life polar vortex that's hitting North America, you'll FEEL it in Black Day! 😊
I've already posted in my Steam review that the AI needs some work when it comes to interior environments. That said, there are some maps where the AI does VERY well with interior spaces, and other maps where they struggle some. It forces me to conclude that his current build of the AI is already quite solid, and perhaps "all" that he really needs to keep doing is flagging windows and doors for the AI to recognize them better, etc. Whatever it is that still needs to be done on this front, most of the time, Black Day's AI is significantly superior to Arma III's infantrymen. At least Black Day's AI don't do the "stop, then slowly pivot on heels, step, stop again, slowly pivot on heels some more, and then shoot" maneuvers that the AI in Arma are constantly stuck doing. 😜
They'll call out to one another (when they're relaxed, they convincingly complain about The Suck of a soldier's life, and it's touches like that that always makes me smirk), they'll throw grenades (not as frequently as in Insurgency: Sandstorm, but I tend to think that Sandstorm's AI goes a wee bit crazy with the smoke grenade spamming that they constantly do), they'll call out where they've spotted enemies, send out an element in an effort to outflank, use crossing lanes of fire, try to keep you pinned down, they'll climb OVER OBSTRUCTIONS just as you can, and much more. Is the game's AI as astounding as SWAT 3's AI...? No, but what game's AI has even matched SWAT 3's grand AI achievements from 20 years (eep!) ago? Answer (very sadly): NONE. There hasn't been a single AAA title that's come out that can touch even half of what SWAT 3 did. That said, Black Day's AI's performance is still very admirable and challenging. And keep in mind that I'm judging all of this with the AI set to "Medium." Who knows what we'll get if we crank it up further? I'll bet that if that's done, one will need to reduce the number of AI that's randomly generated on the map.
Bottom line: you will get your money's worth with the current release's build.
Most of the time, you will be pressed hard once combat starts. Black Day's AI will frequently call for reinforcements. Things get hot and messy quit quickly. It's vital to dispatch the enemy VERY rapidly, before they can get The Word out.
And I cannot emphasize this enough: as I stated in my review, MOBILITY is UNBELIEVABLY important. Unlike our beloved Ghost Recon, you will NOT get hung up on the edges of terrain, or be kept from an edge by an "invisible fence." The number of times that I've desperately climbed one boulder and rock after another with bullets shattering around me...! As a result of the game's design, my real heart's racing and it's hard for my lungs to do their thing. Yeah - GREAT immersion, and with tactical thinking that's so challenging that it makes my nose bleed. I love games that make my brain hurt, and this one does it very well indeed.
Really - buy this game. It has a steep learning curve, but not in the sense that you'd expect. It has so many thoughtful variables, and the impact of adjusting just one is usually pretty profound, and that after getting your butt handed to you several times in a row, you'll likely conclude, "Hmm, I think it's time I dial that variable down a bit and maybe that one too..." It took me several hours to find a set of variables that I was really comfortable with, but the in-game combat and tactics will be very familiar to us (well, except all of the climbing that one can do if one isn't too encumbered). Which, by the way, reminds me... Go ahead, OVERBURDEN yourself with gear. As you use your gear, your character gets lighter, and one's physical capabilities and options rightfully increase.
And one more point: the game's FUN. When I first bought it, I didn't know that it came with Science Fiction variables, ala Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid. Now, I do enjoy games like that (the STALKER series, once judiciously modded, is very dear to my heart), but for some reason, it strongly annoyed me at first to see Cyborgs, Robots, and Security Systems listed as variables; I thought that I was buying a HARDCORE tactical game, so why are these Sci-Fi elements there? 😄 Now without any of these elements added into one's sandbox, the game IS fun, but I guarantee that you're going to get a BIG KICK out of trying out the Sci-Fi stuff, and likely keep them in most of the experiences you design. Out of the three, the one that I used with the least reservation was the Security System; cameras then appear, as do laser barriers - folks, just adding these into a scenario REALLY adds MEANINGFUL complexity to the game. Believable too. The Cyborgs and Robots add a significant challenge, as they're tougher, and faster than normal humans. They don't look "dumb," and their aesthetics fit the "normal" units well, and thus they don't break immersion visually.
Yeah, just get the game already! 😆
After playing it for a few days, let Helios know how you feel and what you think. Whenever he updates it, commit more time to it (trust me, playing it again won't be a chore), and give him more detailed feedback. It's to everyone's advantage to do this: we'll (finally!) get a game we've been waiting literally decades for, and with our input he'll make more money, and VERY DESERVEDLY so. Man, has he earned it in spades! Also, post a review on Steam. Black Day is a sincerely well made gem, and I have no doubts that with enough support from the game's fans, his final build will be an undoubtedly "classic" title. One for the history books.
I already strongly think it's there.
I love it. 👍😃👍