Operation: Harsh Doorstop First Impressions So Far
I’ll admit it straight away. This is going to be a tough article for me. Operation: Harsh Doorstop has been among my most-expected games for a bit. So, I was pretty excited to try it out when it was released last week. But, my Operation: Harsh Doorstop first impression wasn’t the best.
The tactical shooter genre enjoys a surprising variety. There are classics, like Squad, Hell Let Loose, and Insurgency: Sandstorm. Plus, there’s something for every taste: World War I and II, Vietnam, and more.
Plus, there’s new content added almost monthly. We’ve covered Escape From Tarkov and Warzone 2.0. And, Operation: Harsh Doorstop looks to revolutionize the market. It offers an open-source platform for modders to create anything they want.
So, there’s plenty of room for it, despite the hype around games like Dead Island 2.
Famous YouTuber, Bluedrake42, is behind the development team. The title comes as a solution to a seemingly stagnating market. So, the plan is to revive the tactical shooter genre. At the same time, it looks to nurture a rich modding community.
But, let’s focus on what we’re getting right now. Is Operation: Harsh Doorstop worth your time? Well, let’s dive into my first impression of the game.
What exactly is Operation: Harsh Doorstop?
As you can see from the video above, it’s a tactical shooter game. But, that’s oversimplifying it. In reality, it’s a semi-open-source foundation for tactical shooters. The game prioritizes strategy, precise gunplay, and cooperation.
No one is a bullet sponge. There’s no armor, like in Call of Duty, to help you absorb bullets. You might go down in a single shot, depending on the gun. Plus, the battlefields are large and open. So, there’s plenty of room for maneuvers.
There’s also plenty of space for vehicles. But, there aren’t any in the current build. You can compare it to games like Squad or Hell Let Loose. In fact, those are the most common references for critics.
The gameplay loop will feel familiar for tactical shooter enthusiasts. Two teams face each other, with dozens of players on each side. They have to compete to complete objectives. Right now, the objectives are conquering certain positions.
Each team also has a number of tickets. Every time a player dies, the team loses a ticket. So, there’s a lot of pressure for both teams. You can also win by depleting the opponents’ tickets.
Players split into different squads. There are local and squad voice chats, as well. Moreover, everyone plays a role in their squad. From riflemen to squad leaders, marksmen, medics, and more. So, everyone has strengths and weaknesses that mold their role in the battle.
As you can see, it follows the same rules set by the first Battlefield titles. And, they’re the same framework followed by other military simulators.
So, what’s the true scope of the project?
Sure, there’s a game here. But, community development is the real focus.
However, it would be a disservice to say that Operation: Harsh Doorstop is just a tactical shooter. As I mentioned, the priority here is the modding community. In other words, the game is more of a foundation for developers.
Now, that creates a conflict in my Operation: Harsh Doorstop first impression. As you’ll see in a bit, most of my complaints spur from that.
That said, we can’t talk about this game without pointing that out. Simultaneously, it justifies and worsens the problems I found. Don’t worry, I’ll cover why in a bit.
There are already a few dozens of mods in the game’s workshop.
If you look at the game’s workshop, you’ll see what I mean. The game came out less than a week ago. Yet, there are already a bunch of mods for it. And, I’m not talking about simple changes, either.
Yes, there are custom factions and maps. That might be surprising, given the game’s recent release. Still, that’s just the tip of the iceberg here.
There are entire game modes as well. You have more casual-oriented game modes. Or, you have super-hardcore changes. For instance, there’s a mod that limits players to one life. If a player dies, they’re gone for good.
Then, there’s a third-person mod. You can turn the game into a third-person tactical shooter with one download. And, the game’s developer had nothing to do with it.
Plus, that’s still not everything.
Some mods change the game entirely, adding completely new features.
As you can see, one of the mods above brings an entire construction system. Sure, it’s just a proof of concept. But, the game allows for those changes in theory. Some servers have introduced weapon modding, outside the original features.
My Operation: Harsh Doorstop first impression, right after downloading
The single-player menu showcases everything the game has to offer right now.
So, what was my first impression of Operation: Harsh Doorstop after downloading it? It was pleasantly surprising. The game’s menu is simple. But, it sheds light on everything the game has to offer.
From the single-player menu, you can see a few maps and customization options. Sure, there are only five maps after release. But, you have a bunch of eras and factions from them. You can create any game you want: mixing eras and factions at will.
There are also a bunch of servers with a fair player count.
Then, I switched over to the multiplayer server list. Thankfully, I found a bunch of fairly-populated servers. So, you shouldn’t have an issue finding something that works for you. Though, keep in mind that some might have a high ping.
Also, many servers have bots to boost the player count. So, most servers feel fairly populated. It also helps that the map design somewhat funnels players. That means they rarely feel empty.
Loading into games is also quite fast. And, there’s little downtime if you want to jump into a match. Nevertheless, that might change as the game becomes more popular. Other military sims have long queue times. Thus, I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens to Operation: Harsh Doorstop as well.
Don’t worry. I know I haven’t jumped into the gameplay. So, how about we do that now? It’s time to get into the nitty-gritty.
The graphics in Operation: Harsh Doorstop
Sometimes, the graphics look quite good for a base game.
Now, let’s get to the graphics side of my Operation: Harsh Doorstop first impression. At first glance, the game looks pretty good. Sure, it’s not the next big thing in game graphics. But, they’re immersive and, well, nice.
The lighting effects look good. The skyboxes are decent. Character models are fairly lifelike. And, there are even a bunch of models for every faction. So, you’re not always looking at the same soldiers all the time.
Plus, the weapons look pretty nice. They’re definitely the highlight of this game. However, some are better than others. I found WWII and modern guns to look the best. The Vietnam-era weapons look kind of iffy sometimes. The M16 didn’t quite match the others.
However, lighting isn’t really the best in the market right now.
That said, the graphics aren’t perfect. If you play nighttime maps, you’ll see why. Let’s start with muzzle flashes. Unsuppressed weapons don’t show any flashes. Even insurgent weapons, without flash hiders, are guilty of this. You can see a firefight in pitch black and see no lighting effects.
Then, there are the environments and character models. As I said, they’re decent. Yet, they also look like early Squad graphics. They definitely don’t look realistic enough sometimes. The interiors are fairly empty. And, some explosions look off as well.
Daytime maps help smooth many of the game’s visual hiccups.
On the other hand, daytime maps do a lot to obscure these issues. For instance, they mostly make the lack of muzzle flashes unnoticeable. Also, daytime lighting and skylights help you appreciate other details.
Overall, the game isn’t a visual masterpiece by any means. Nonetheless, the graphics are good enough to keep you engaged. More importantly, enemies aren’t hard to spot. So, that’s another plus.
Movement, smoothness, and the overall “feel” of the game
The movement feels and looks good most of the time.
Again, movement is serviceable. It feels fairly smooth, at least usually. Looking around also brings up a nice weapon sway. Overall, you can feel the weight of your guns when looking around.
Likewise, other characters look realistic when moving. Whether running or walking, the movement feels fluid and with weight. So, no complaints there.
But, it’s far from perfect. Vaulting is a perfect example.
On the other hand, things can fall apart fairly quickly. Depending on your controls, movement can feel clunky. For instance, I changed sprinting and leaning from “hold” to “toggle.” I just don’t like keeping my fingers unnecessarily busy.
Well, that means sprinting is toggled all the way. If you sprint and stop, you’ll sprint again if you move. It feels really uncomfortable for some reason. Plus, it makes it awkward to alternate between walking and running.
The same goes for leaning. Other games let you sprint after leaning, and it’ll reset your position. That doesn’t happen in Operation: Harsh Doorstop. You simply can’t sprint if you’re leaning. Plus, you move slower.
That might not sound like a big deal. You can just stop leaning before moving, right? Well, if someone starts shooting at you, repositioning becomes an issue. Your instinct is to sprint away ASAP. Then, you can see why having to deal with inputs can make that an issue.
Even outside the settings, things can feel off. Let’s take vaulting for a clearer picture. When you vault, you lock into the animation. Sure, that’s not a big deal. Most games do it. But, the action actually ends around half a second after the animation. So, your character freezes for like half a second after vaulting.
Needless to say, this is another huge problem if you’re under attack.
My first impression of Operation: Harsh Doorstop’s gunplay
The guns feel decent, and the same goes for their animations.
Then, we have the gunplay. After all, that’s why most people are here, aren’t they? Realistic gunplay is a staple of tactical shooters. This feature can make or break Operation: Harsh Doorstop.
Thankfully, my Operation: Harsh Doorstop first impression went smoothly in this area. Again, the guns feel quite heavy. The gun models and animations are also great for most guns. And, you can usually “feel” your shots hitting others.
The sound effects are also solid. Plus, you and others go down in a couple of well-placed shots.
As such, I enjoyed the gunplay.
Sniping also feels engaging and quite fun, despite some hindrances.
Most classes have different guns. For instance, squad leaders tend to have carbines or SMGs. Riflemen and grenadiers have rifles or assault rifles. Medics are less combat-oriented, with weaker guns.
Therefore, I’m glad to announce that most guns feel different. Each gun type has a clear purpose: close, medium, or long-range combat. Thus, some classes are better for some situations.
That said, the difference usually comes down to weapon type. Sure, a K98 is different from an M1 Garand due to its bolt action. But, the sounds, feeling, and even recoil are usually the same. That’s a clear problem when a fully-modded AR-15 has the same recoil as a stock AK.
There’s even support for auxiliary sights in some guns.
Now, some guns are pretty fun. For instance, the PMC sniper rifle has an auxiliary sight. You can switch between your scope and 1x sight. And, you can mod the game to allow these features in other guns.
But, as is, most of the guns are pretty similar. It leads to a “see one, see all” kind of deal. If you’ve used an assault rifle, you’ve used most of them. After a while, the largest difference between guns is whether they’re automatic or not.
With that in mind, that’s my biggest qualm with the gunplay. My only other complaint would be weapon recoil. As I said, most guns have similar recoil. Then, you find out recoil is mostly negligible here. It’s far from the realistic weapon recoil you’ll find in most games. Just moving your mouse downwards a bit is enough to flatten it.
Variety in the game: Weapons, scenarios, factions, servers
World War II is yet another era available right now.
Now, variety is really one of the highlights of my first impression of the game. Yes, you have tactical shooters set in WWII, Vietnam, and modern times. But, Operation: Harsh Doorstop adapts all three to one title.
As for factions, the same holds true. You have at least a couple of factions for each era. And, you can find different factions depending on the map. Every army has its own weapons and character classes.
As for scenarios, that’s where things fall a bit short. There are only five maps in Operation: Harsh Doorstop. You get two WWII maps, one Vietnam map, and two modern maps. That said, they’re fairly different. You’ll fight in woods, trenches, towns, and more.
You can play any era in any map. You can even combine them!
But, you’re not stuck to the original map rules. You can mix and match maps and factions however you want. For instance, you can take a WWII map and pit the Vietcong against modern-day PMCs.
And, I haven’t even talked about mods. Right now, you can find faction mods for different countries and regiments. There’s even a mod with plastic army men factions. As a bonus, the same developer created a map on a desk. The same goes for other maps and factions.
Unfortunately, the game runs into the same faction imbalance found in its peers.
Having said that, the variety does create certain issues with game balance. If you’ve played Squad, you know what I’m talking about. You have fully-geared PMCs against insurgents. That means a bunch of modded-out guns against stock AKs with iron sights.
Some factions have a clear advantage over others. But, you can mod these problems out. For instance, you can enable weapon modding for any faction.
First impressions of the game’s sound design
Obviously, I can’t give you an idea of the sound design via images. Instead, I’ll leave a full gameplay above. You can see how the game and guns sound by yourself.
As for my first impression, well, it was serviceable. It’s a similar deal to the graphics. The game mostly sounds good. But, it’s not breaking records or setting new standards in the industry.
The guns are loud and fairly realistic. Sure, some guns sound similar when they shouldn’t. Yet, it’s not something that will break your immersion or keep you from having fun. You can usually identify guns by their sound, depending on the factions in play. Explosions also sound pretty good. I’d even say they sound better than they look.
Then, we have character voices. I mainly noticed this with bots. So, I’m not sure that you’ll hear these without AI characters. But, they’re fairly good. The voice acting is more than decent given the development team’s size. Plus, they’re quite immersive. AI will shout whether they see enemies or need cover fire to reload.
During my time playing the game, I only ran into one bug. There was one game where a laser-sounding gun started shooting. The sound obscured all other sounds, and it was definitely poorly mixed. After that, the entire game went mute, except for my footsteps.
Still, I must point out that the entire server crashed afterward. So, we can probably cross that out as server-side problems.
How does Operation: Harsh Doorstop compare to similar games?
The HUD feels very similar to Hell Let Loose.
So, let’s compare my Operation: Harsh Doorstop first impression to similar games. Naturally, the two games that come to mind are the same ones I’ve mentioned several times. Squad and Hell Let Loose are the main reference points.
Well, the HUD feels a lot like Hell Let Loose. The weapon and clips to the left are very reminiscent of that. But, the maps and modern settings feel a lot like early Squad. The mechanics also have the same sensation.
However, the game leaves many other features open to modding. The game lacks vehicles, objective variety, and more. But, I somewhat saw that coming given Bluedrake42’s updates.
You’ll find many tactical shooter staples in this game.
Overall, the game has all the basics covered. You have classes, factions, control zones, and squads. But, it does feel like a foundation more than a full game.
For instance, medics can’t revive teammates. The developer addressed this, saying that they wanted to leave it to modders. That way, they can find better ways to tackle it. And, that mindset creates a major conflict in the community. I’ll cover that in a bit.
This game won’t compare effectively to major titles in the market. It doesn’t really plan to do so, either. Instead, it wants to provide a solid foundation for community development.
Only the basic package for now: Where Operation: Harsh Doorstop first impressions fail
Let’s move a bit toward other Operation: Harsh Doorstop first impressions. That’s because I need to point out my qualms with the game. And, seeing others’ opinions sheds light on a pivotal issue.
Mainly, many reviewers have found the game to be either a mixed bag or bad. That’s because, yes, the game feels bare bones. But, we must remember that the game is more of a modding platform or engine.
It would be like judging Garry’s Mod’s stock maps and mechanics for lacking content. No, you judge GMod for everything it lets people create. We can see Operation: Harsh Doorstop as a tactical shooter GMod.
That’s where many reviewers get the game wrong. This isn’t a full-blown game. Instead, it’s a basic feature package for modders. The main attraction is its tools and flexibility.
Luckily, the developer has mostly been open to criticism.
I have to give props to Bluedrake42 and the development team. They clearly saw this criticism coming. And, they’ve mostly replied to point said criticism toward productivity. I’d honestly expected him to reply a bit more bitterly.
But, no, I’ve loved the approach to nurturing constructive criticism so far. Plus, it could go a long way to create a helpful community around it. Given the game’s nature, it could be pivotal for the game’s growth.
Why these misconceptions matter (and why they don’t)
Bigfry’s video (which you can watch above) summarizes my feelings perfectly. Reviewers’ misconceptions are relevant and irrelevant simultaneously.
On one hand, they judge the game from a misled perspective. We can’t really criticize Operation: Harsh Doorstop as a full game. It’s not, and it doesn’t aim to be one. On the other hand, the game needs to please players.
Why do these misconceptions matter?
They matter because the game needs a healthy player base to motivate modders. Why would someone mod a game no one plays? Other games already support mods with a solid player count.
In other words, the game needs to be good for people to play it. That’s why there’s a limit to how much they can use modding as a shield. The basic game still needs improvements. Some of those upgrades shouldn’t wait for modders.
But, why do they not matter?
The tactical shooter community is fairly passionate. Criticism can go a long way in engaging the community. Bluedrake42 has stated that the team will help modders. That could motivate a healthy community to improve the game.
Then, that could prove effective to drive players to the game. If their opinions are heard, they’ll want to participate. From there, the community has a lot of room to grow.
Right now, that’s the main challenge. Operation: Harsh Doorstop needs to keep its player count. So, it’ll have to balance its improvements and the modding community. The main goal is to keep players and modders motivated.
Operation: Harsh Doorstop, caught between “incomplete” and “modding foundation”
The death “animation” is just a black screen prompting respawn.
Unfortunately, the game often fails (for me) to feel like a solid foundation. Yes, many of its features are purposely left to modders. But, the game itself still doesn’t feel complete. Plus, I’m not just talking about missing features.
The game still feels unpolished. That’s a problem given that the game has been in development for a while now. Sure, reviving players, vehicles, and other features are subjective. But, movement and other basics need more polish.
You’ll likely run into many bugs while trying out the game.
That creates a complex limbo for my Operation: Harsh Doorstop first impression. The title lacks “quality of life” features, which it desperately needs. As I said, the game doesn’t have to be a full-blown release. Still, it needs to feel good to play.
Otherwise, players won’t be motivated to play. That will reduce the player count. Then, a low player count will demotivate modders.
In the end, that would lead to the opposite of the game’s goal. In other words, it would crash before launching off.
There’s an anti-tank class in a build without any vehicles.
The main problem is how easy it is to sense the game as incomplete. For instance, some classes are pointless. The medic and anti-tank units don’t have a clear role. You can’t revive teammates. Also, there aren’t any vehicles in the entire game.
See? Small things like that let the feeling of being incomplete slip. At first, they don’t seem like much. But, they become easily noticeable after playing for a while.
Closing thoughts on my Operation: Harsh Doorstop first impression
Overall, the game is a really mixed bag for me—and many others.
So, how did my first impression go with Operation: Harsh Doorstop?
It’s really hard to come up with a solid conclusion. I’m still pretty hyped about the game. But, it has nothing to do with its current features. Instead, I’m excited to see where it’ll go. It still has the potential to become the next big thing.
That being said, the current game’s status has nothing to do with my hype. In fact, I have to admit I’m a bit disappointed with it. Sure, I didn’t expect the next big tactical shooter on release. I’ve always been aware of its goals. But, I expected a more solid foundation nonetheless.
My general interest lies in where this project is going. I’ll probably wait for a few updates before playing it again. There’s a lot that needs work for me to feel invested in the gameplay itself.
Finally, I don’t want you to think I recommend you skip the game. Try it for yourself—it’s free, after all! Just don’t expect a full-blown game, ready for a complete release. Instead, test the waters to see whether you’re interested in its development.
If you’re a modder, check it out by all means. The game does seem to have great modding features. So, you might get a lot more value from its current state.