What’s it about? Massive Entertainment (now Ubisoft Massive) is on a mission it seems, as the multiplayer component of first-person shooter Far Cry 3 is unveiled. A mission to bring people together, forge bonds between comrades and ultimately make team mates become people who are ‘more than just people you don’t shoot’ as Game Designer Daniel Berlin puts it.

How they propose to do this is by introducing a number of rewards into their title’s online component to ensure those who play for the team – and even engage in Far Cry 3 through upcoming social network integration away from their console – reap benefits that those who are in it for themselves only won’t necessarily be able to access.

The name of the game is ‘team support points’, points amassed only by providing assistance to your team and its objectives, and points which can be subsequently spent on team support weapons.

Take the ‘Battle Cry’ action, a rallying cry which buffs all team members within earshot, rewarding them with anything from extra health to an increase in their running speed – ideal when looking for that slight leg up in a closely fought fire fight. Acting as field medic yields yet more points, while defending key objectives or tagging enemy locations also reaps more still.

The idea is to not only reward unselfish play, but also all but guarantee that unselfish play leads to the highest score, so creating a leader board based on player actions and contribution to the team goal, as opposed to simply crowning the player with the highest kill count.

That said, the previously mentioned team support weapons should ensure the player who uses them the most should wrack up a huge amount of indirect kills regardless, so potent are the weapons when unleashed on the battlefield.

Deploying ‘Psyche Gas’ for example spreads confusion through enemy ranks, those affected going insane, and so having their grip on reality loosened so that everybody, friend and foe, appear like demons (think back to Scarecrow’s weaponised gas in Batman Begins and you won’t be far away). The twist here is that once affected, friendly fire is nullified, meaning that any demon you shoot can be slain – the potential for team killing shenanigans here being obvious.

Beyond team-based rewards, the maps and play modes are also geared towards team play, with objective capturing (and defending) the order of the day. ‘Domination’ mode deploys a tug-of-war mechanic through which capturing and holding objectives feeds the team’s overall points. Lose nodes and the opposition can claw back your lead, making for a constantly undulating system prone to flip as either team gains a stranglehold.

‘Firestorm’, the second game mode revealed, has teams vying for supply depots – manage to set both on fire and the game enters a second stage in which the map is engulfed in flame leaving combatants to fight it out in order to capture a central radio.

If the team whose supply depots are currently engulfed capture said radio tower then a plane full of water is called in to quell the flames, if the aggressors gain the tower then a similar plane in called in, though this one brimming with gasoline – the result of which is surely self-explanatory.

The action itself is fast and frantic, with death a regular occurrence thanks to the fairly realistic representation of how many bullets the human body can take before capitulating. That’s not to say we’re approaching simulation of course – the characters here being capable of healing themselves of bullet wounds with an injection – but it’s good to see a lack of a bullet-sponge class.

In fact, there aren’t really classes at all, with player’s abilities instead governed by their load-outs. ‘Warrior’ provides a range of armaments fit for all purposes, ‘Rusher’ a collection of lighter weapons and ‘Infiltrator’ adding the tools of an explosives expert. For those looking to personalize further there’s the option to customise as necessary too.

Visually Far Cry 3 is a beautiful game, the large islands making up the multiplayer arenas basking in sunshine, vivid colours sparkling. The maps we’re privy too, Temple and Sub Pen, are nicely built too, the first providing a central ruin to hide in, and the second featuring a submarine graveyard which can be explored on land as well as underwater thanks to the impressive swimming mechanic.

Worth the wait? With competition for players’ hearts and minds hotter than ever within the FPS genre it’s a brave hack who boldly predicts success or failure for any given game. Far Cry 3 looks to be making all the right moves, what with it’s social networking and team-based approach, one things for sure, there won’t be a brighter, more idyllic setting for you and your friends to go hunting on.

For: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Developer: Ubisoft Massive
Publisher: Ubisoft
When? 6 September 2012