Ready or Not, developed and published by VOID Interactive, is a strategic and methodical SWAT-style FPS available in Early Access for PC on Steam.
In a world where the next first-person shooter seems to be lurking around every corner, it’s refreshing when a game can flip the overwhelmingly popular genre of game into something that feels different. While other titles in the past, most notably SWAT 4 and the Rainbow Six series, have tackled SWAT-type gameplay, it’s been a while since we’ve seen a fresh take on the idea.
Ready or Not aims to change that. Released into Early Access on December 17, 2021, Ready or Not is a cooperative FPS, where players are tasked with taking on different missions while using various real-life SWAT equipment and weapons.
Core Gameplay is a Tactical Blast
If you love busting down doors, throwing flash nades, and taking down baddies — then Ready or Not’s core gameplay loop was created for someone like you. The game currently boasts 14 levels, with a large variety between each mission.
Ranging from a gas station to a hospital, missions have their own enemies, objectives, and challenges to overcome. Currently, there are different game modes, ranging from Barricaded Subjects to Active Shooter and Bomb Threat, though not all game modes are available for every map.
In Ready or Not, players have to enter each mission and take out the bad guys, complete an objective, and make sure that innocent civilians remain unscathed. They do this by implementing a wide array of real-life equipment, including battering rams, gas grenades, and a full arsenal of rifles, SMGs, and pistols.
The stakes and feelings of apprehension and stress when breaching an enemy room, along with the randomly generated enemies and their unpredictable behavior, raises the stakes and makes Ready or Not an exhilarating experience.
With that being said, in its current state, the game may feel underdeveloped for some, as there are no in-game systems like progression, character customization, or other bells and whistles players may be used to from other fully-released games. If you can overlook these things and take the game for what it is in its current state, Ready or Not is a blast.
Stunning and Realistic Audio and Visuals
The visuals in Ready or Not are realistic — sometimes to the point where it could easily be confused with a police body cam. While some character models could use a little work when you get up close and personal, the environments, equipment, and guns, all look and feel great.
Sound design is fairly good — and while I was yearning for more iterations of “Hey it’s the Police, hands up,” the bullets whizzing by my ear or the impact of a flash grenade going off soon made me forget about the lack of voice lines. Different guns sound distinct, and they even managed to pull off an accurate sound for a silenced gun — something other FPS games could learn from.
Multiplayer Community is Somewhat Lackluster at the Moment
If you have a squad of friends to play with that want to take the missions seriously, then Ready or Not is super fun. Coordinating and strategizing on the best way to enter an area or neutralize threats can be an entertaining challenge if everyone is on board with a pre-determined plan.
However, the fun quickly stops if you use the game’s in-game matchmaking feature. Maybe it’s just me, but it seemed that over 90% of the matches I entered solo were filled with people looking to rush through the level, use no teamwork whatsoever, and try to headshot enemy combatants and civilians with reckless disregard.
In a game where part of the fun lies in minimizing collateral damage, it quickly makes Ready or Not devolve into a less fun Rainbow Six or PvP military shooter where people are dolphin diving to victory, and ultimately detracts from the slow and methodical gameplay that makes the title shine.
While there inevitably may be no way for the developers to remedy this issue — since it’s largely a community problem, there could be creative in-game incentives that encourage players to play “properly” or some sort of matchmaking system that enables players that want to play the game like Call of Duty to be matched with other players of the same ilk. For now, I’ll stick to singleplayer until I make more friends.
Ready or Not is Punishing, But Not Too Much So
While the game relies heavily on the realistic nature of clearing rooms, stacking up, and using actual SWAT tactics, the gameplay itself doesn’t feel too punishing. While it’s true that you can die at any moment from an unwieldy suspect ambushing you from a dark corner, Ready or Not gives players a choice between heavy, medium, and light armor — which, at this moment, is not locked behind achievements.
To accompany the body armor, there is steel or kevlar plating, a full metal facemask, and other items that will improve your longevity, making it feel far less punishing than other first-person PvP shooters. While it is essential for players to clear all rooms and threats in a smart way, it is far from an impossible feat, especially if you take your time.
AI and Map Choices Could Use Improvement
When playing single-player, you are given a full NPC squad to issue commands through the middle mouse button. This is actually where the game shines, as there are pre-programmed actions that the CPU can take that reflect actual real-life SWAT tactics.
However, it’s not perfect, and at times your squad will do completely random and nonsensical things — like running directly in front of you while you’re unloading a full mag at an enemy or obstructing your path when you’re in a narrow hallway. That being said, it was only a slight annoyance as I played the game and far less annoying than an elementary school child screaming in my ear in a random solo lobby.
While there are a ton of maps that will keep you busy for hours on end, I felt like shorter, more realistic campaigns were deprioritized for massive structures or maps with multiple buildings. It would be nice if the developers could strike a better balance by adding shorter, more heart-pumping close-quarters missions–but perhaps that’s something the creators are eyeing for the future. Mods and community-driven maps already exist, pointing toward the fact that the player base may also want better map variety.
Ready or Not is a Solid Early Access Title
When doing reviews, there are games where the potential is limited because the core of the game isn’t that fun or is lacking something, and there are games that could be amazing but need a bit more content. Ready or Not falls in the latter category.
The amount of potential for a realistic, strategic cooperative SWAT FPS is truly there–and Ready or Not, even in Early Access, provides a more-than-suitable start for an iconic first-person shooter.
If the developers can implement more “gaming” aspects and improve upon what they already have, Ready or Not could become one of the most popular co-op SWAT games ever.
Ready or Not Early Access Review
Ready or Not is a realistic SWAT FPS where methodical tactics and strategy make up most of the gameplay. While not completely perfect in its Early Access state, the game has great potential and will keep you engaged over its 14 distinct missions.
You can purchase Ready or Not on Steam.
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[Reviewed on PC]