Insurgency: Sandstorm Review – An Updated Review on a Co-op Fan’s Paradise

Insurgency: Sandstorm
New World Interactive/Focus Home Interactive

Insurgency: Sandstorm hit the first-person shooter world by storm last September (2018 that is) and quickly captured the attention of hardcore shooter fans. Its launch didn’t go quite as expected for many, however. Some gamers felt that the game would have greatly benefited from a little more time in the development oven before being unleashed upon the masses.

Personally, I thought the critics were right. There were a lot of issues going on with the game’s framerate and some bugs such as textures glitching in and out when they initially loaded in. I played the heck out of it anyway since it was a nice break from all of the other more generic shooters out there.


Insurgency: Sandstorm features two main teams—the Security and Insurgent forces—and pits them against each other over six desert-like maps which are set in a fictitious location somewhere in the Middle-East. Much like the first game, Insurgency, which was originally a Source mod, this sequel is powered with Unreal Engine graphics and you can really tell that the visuals have been significantly upgraded. It looked fantastic on my PC gaming laptop.

Much like the first game, Insurgency: Sandstorm features multiple multiplayer PvP modes where you’re either trying to blow up caches or take over points as the Security forces, or defend said caches and capture flags as Insurgents.


Initially, although I knew that the game came with a co-op mode, I played the PvP mode the most. After Squad began to die down (due to lack of updates), I hungered for a first-person shooter that was more realistic than Call of Duty and all of its assorted clones, yet not as mil-sim as the Arma series.

As the months rolled on, Insurgency: Sandstorm’s population began to mysteriously fall. Just the other day, the player count across all servers was only hovering around 3,000 people worldwide. I knew that this game wasn’t a triple A effort, but rather more of an indie double A project. Then I realized something else…

Just like other shooters such as Squad, Post Scriptum, and a few others, Insurgency: Sandstorm isn’t quite as mil-sim-y as Arma and Escape From Tarkov. It’s also not a casual and “Rambo-style” as say, the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises. What that means is that it while it skirts the line between both of these extremes of the shooter genre, it has a hard time appealing to either crowd; the more hardcore types find it too casual, while the kiddie-fast-twitch types don’t like dying from a single bullet.


Recently, at the behest of a hardcore shooter gaming friend, I tried out Insurgency: Sandstorm’s co-op mode. After several matches I started to wonder why I hadn’t tried it before. The game’s co-op mode has you playing as either team (Security or Insurgents) but you’re limited to an eight-man squad. The sole co-op mode on offer so far is one in which you and your team must take out the opposing AI forces, capture points sequentially, and then defend them as retaliatory waves counter-attack.

This emphasis on smaller teams going up against some pretty crafty AI enemies creates much more of a teamwork environment to play in. As opposed to Insurgency: Sandstorm’s PvP mode where people just tend to run off on their own and do their own thing, in co-op I found folks much more into using comms and coordinating both offensive and defensive maneuvers. Co-op also has some different mechanics at play which serve to reinforce both its immersion factor, plus an “us vs. them” comradery.

For instance, a recent game involved me and a buddy playing on a Security forces team. Within moments of spawning in, my friend was showing me how to kick down doors (something not possible in PvP) and re-close previously opened ones in order to secure rooms.


I remember coordinating an attack on a police station that the enemy was holding, wiping it clean of them, and then setting up defensive positions as our Insurgent foes began their counter-offensive. Suddenly, a techie pulled up with a mounted fifty cal. in its pickup truck bed, and began spraying rounds through the front entrance of the station.

A heavy torrent of bullets shattered the entrance’s large window panes and ripped through wood and flesh alike, killing half of our squad. As two of the surviving members, my friend and I frantically shouted over our mics in an effort to call out enemies and coordinate attacks. But then I heard a: “get outta there!” and turned to see a single insurgent strapped with a bomb vest. The last things I saw was a dramatic explosion that would make Michael Bay blush.


Now that I’ve discovered Insurgency: Sandstorm’s co-op mode, I play it almost exclusively, eschewing the game’s mostly toxic PvP mode. And therein lies what I believe will eventually save Insurgency: Sandstorm in the long run. It simply has one of the most immersive and tension-inducing co-op modes I’ve ever played. Try it out for yourself if you haven’t already.

SCORE: 88%

Insurgency: Sandstorm features great graphics that make its first-person shooter gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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