It’s hard to believe, but it has been over 10 years since MAG was released on PS3 and now we’re inching ever closer to the release of PS5 (even if we still don’t know that date yet).
It was, in the long run, a short-lived game that released in January 2010. As an online only title with no single player to speak of, the servers for MAG went offline on January 28, 2014 just a couple of months after the launch of PS4. Sadly, the game has been dead longer than it had a chance to be played.
I got a PS3 in December 2009 as a Christmas present, and some games to go with it. But MAG was the first game I bought for PS3, pre-ordered as a matter of fact. Played the betas, and jumped in from day one of launch.
MAG was developed by Zipper Interactive, the guys behind the popular PS2 series SOCOM U.S. Navy Seals. Sadly, Zipper Interactive was closed down by Sony in 2012. They were developing a SOCOM game for PS4 and another FPS that was to be a new IP, also for PS4. Both games were of course canceled when the studio shut down.
I’ve never been a big multiplayer person, or rather not of the PvP variety. I’ve always preferred co-op. There’s only been three games where I have truly enjoyed PvP.
The first was Black Hawk Down on PC. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of hours I poured into that game’s 25v25 multiplayer. Of course they had private servers with custom maps, and that definitely helped keep the game fresh.
The third has been Destiny and Destiny 2, which I’m lumping together. It’s not the most balanced of experiences, and there’s enough cheesy stuff to make sure it’s not actually competitive, but I just enjoy the Crucible in Destiny. It’s fun, even if it is 6v6 (I prefer larger battles).
The second though was MAG. That one was special. It was the first console shooter I got into. It was a PvP multiplayer only game. It was a huge one too, way ahead of its time and we still haven’t seen anything else like it.
MAG featured four game modes and training mode at launch, and two additional modes came in via DLC.
Suppression was a 32v32 Team Deathmatch that didn’t impact the Shadow War (which we’ll talk about later).
Sabotage was a 32v32 objective mode that did influence the Shadow War. In this mode, and attacking team would have to take control of two uplinks simultaneously, and once that happened the third objective would open up which would be detonating an explosive at the defending teams base. This was the mode I loved and played the most.
Acquisition was a 64v64 game mode where an attacking team had to capture two escort vehicles. It was essentially 128 player Capture the Flag.
Domination was the game defining mode that supported 256 players. 128v128, although the way the maps were split it was largely multiple smaller battles going on simultaneously. I didn’t play this one a lot.
I never played the two DLC modes.
MAG pitted three private military corporations against each other in a Shadow War. Each game pitted a faction against a faction, and whoever won would gain contracts. The more contracts a faction had, the better they were doing in the Shadow War and that came with some bonuses like increased XP. Honestly, it’s been a long time and the Shadow War aspect was always something that happened in the background that I didn’t pay a ton of attention to.
The three factions were:
- Raven Industries GmbH – High tech, elite soldiers.
- S.V.E.R. – Guerrilla style militants.
- Valor Company Inc. – Experienced soldiers, based on modern American military.
I was a member of Raven. The thing about MAG is that you were locked into the faction you choose until you hit the level cap, and then you could “veteran” and start over either with the same faction or join a different one. This meant if your friends chose Valor and you chose Raven, you couldn’t play together until you hit veteran status.
Gameplay was quite similar to Call of Duty and Battlefield. Ribbons, XP, buy weapons and upgrades, but you did have a skill tree and different paths you could take, so it was a RPG-ish as well.
So it’s a dead FPS that hasn’t been playable in over six years. An entire generation of better hardware went by with the IP left for dead.
I don’t expect that to change. For whatever reason, I just don’t believe Sony will ever bring MAG back in any form. I hope otherwise, else I wouldn’t be writing about a game that went offline six years ago and is over a decade old.
The game was popular in its day. Over time it waned some, of course, but it’s also important to remember that Xbox 360 was the choice for more people during that generation especially when this game released.
In the decade since MAG released, PlayStation retook the lead over Xbox, Internet connections for most people have gotten a lot better, and more console gamers are used to online, multiplayer only games.
Now I know what I’m about to say will likely anger some MAG fans, and to be honest I don’t necessarily like it myself. But if you hope for a revival of any sort, you also need to align expectations with reality.
Right now, the reality is a game like MAG would be great as a “Games As A Service” online only title with Seasons, a Battle Pass, and microtransactions. I know, I know… but that’s where we are now. It could be monetized that way to where the game could be free-to-play (I know!) and any new maps or modes would also be freely available to all.
As a PS5 exclusive, I wouldn’t be as concerned about free to play because you’re not going to encounter the cheaters that would undoubtedly ruin it on PC for example. And I’m personally fine with free to play with a Battle Pass and cosmetic items like outfits, weapon skins, nameplates, etc. Would expect it to have those things even if it were a buy-to-play title as well to be honest just because of how things are today. At least with free, you get a larger population.
Seasons would of course be a great fit for MAG. The Shadow War would last a season, which would be about three months long. The winning side players would get an exclusive skin, icon or something.
I enjoyed the locked in nature of MAG, and rather than allowing multiple characters (which you could do), I’d like to see that continue with players being locked in to their faction for the duration of a season. For many people, that would probably be more fair than only being allowed to switch after you hit the level cap.
I would of course want it to be as close to the original as possible in terms of feel, but obviously the game is over 10 years old and things do evolve for the better (sometimes). As was, it was a pretty good foundation that could’ve been built upon and I liked all the Sabotage maps and would like to see them again.
Expand on the ideas of the original if need be, but keep it about the same. No one wants a MAG Battle Royale mode (although 50v50 Elimination with revives could be fun).
Ultimately, I think now more than ever, a game like MAG makes sense. It would be more popular now than it was in 2010. As an exclusive, if done correct, it would be a killer title (especially if it were free, if only to a certain level). And with more and more BR games, the competitive FPS multiplayer is wide open and there’s still a big audience there, especially for something that no other game is doing (large scale battles, be it 32v32 or 128v128 or more).
MAG was way ahead of its time. Six years after being rendered unplayable, people still talk fondly of it. It was one of the greatest FPS multiplayer games ever made. There’s an audience for it now that’s larger than it was in 2010, and in general there’s better infrastructure in place for such a large scale game to run on.
Will we see MAG, or a title like MAG, on PS5? Unfortunately, probably not. But one can hope that Sony eventually sees they have what could be a huge “games as a service” IP just going to waste. MAG had too short of a lifespan, and it was too good of a game to just continue to be a fond gaming memory. The coming generation, the PS5, would be the perfect time to give MAG the second chance at life that it deserves.
Bring it back Sony.