I’ve waited to try squad for a while, I’ve owned it since alpha but the early version disagreed with my machine. Today was my first match of it. What a messy round it was. Sorry for a garble of ideas, this was written coming freshly out of the match.
First of all let me say I have a lot of faith in the team to make a middle of the road shooter “between Insurgency and ARMA”. It’s a lot of the way there already both in terms of the mechanics and the players. Now for my first impressions, which are obviously as subjective as can be.
Our squad already had a bad start by being the last out of the base, our squad leader (SL) had zero communication from the other squads already presumably engaging the enemy and as a result wasn’t sure on where to position the team. We opted to plug the gap between squad one and squad 2 and then assist whichever needed help when contacted or just protect from flanking. From getting to the middle point onwards almost everything went wrong.
It’s hard to get an organised group using proper Radio communications let alone a group of random players in a public server, but I feel this in particular murdered our squads chance at success. Only one player from memory on the radio actively called out the compass direction and bearing of what he was engaging. We were constantly being flanked and encircled due to poor communication letting hostile groups behind out lines or worse, creating friendly fire incidents from people not communicating between squads.
There was also the issue of people not using local voice communications. I’m not sure if local voice has a very short radius just yet, but when things got busy the entire squad would be yelling over the squad radio channel and making no one audible as a result.
Leadership makes or breaks
This is not an attack on the SL player, but they might not have been the best to fill that role. They were possibly overly passive with issuing orders to their squad and as a result we had multiple “back seat” leaders adding to the confusion, who are just as much to blame for poor performance overall. Without a unifying leader to issue out orders everyone becomes a lone wolf and as a result the effectiveness against organised squads on the opposing force completely break down. The max squad size in the game is 9, I would suggest people playing as SL’s find a way to perhaps designate two fire team leaders and split the squad into two groups of four with the SL assigning themselves to either one of the fire-teams. There are probably other ways to split the squad to improve its effectiveness. Having one player lead nine they don’t know may be too large a task a lot of the time however.
I’ve seen it discussed on the game’s subreddit whether there should be a short period of the start of the match where players can move around their base and plan for their attack. Some argue that there’s not much that can be done here that can’t be done in the briefing screen (a screen with the map and squad list). I disagree however, the small amount of time to meet your squad members and even break the ice would help immensely for the SL and the regular squad members. It also gives time for assigning fire-teams and planning with other squad leaders locally.
The result of effective leadership/communication
Take for example this clip from reddit user Nickoteen, the automatic rifleman does a fantastic job supporting his team by firing through the smoke (obscuring the medic). Once revived the team fall back to safety.
This is fantastically handled and works as a great example at how Squad has potential to meet that middle road of “milsim”/shooter. When I was shot in my initial match I was almost never near a medic because our line was spread so far and thin, I don’t even know if we had someone equipped with an automatic rifle to provide suppression. I don’t know a lot of what was happening, because nothing was being communicated.
There are all kinds of great clips of functioning teamwork and effective tactics being employed within squad, as they introduce new mechanics and features such as vehicles for combined operations I’ll be extremely interested to see how the community evolves and grows.