Realistic Extraction Shooter Blowing Up On Steam, 400k Copies Sold In 48 Hours

Screenshot: Madfinger Games
Screenshot: Madfinger Games

Another day, another realistic military sim is blowing up on Steam. This time it’s Gray Zone Warfare, an Early Access extraction shooter that features a unique health system and some frustrating technical issues. But that hasn’t stopped over 400,000 players from giving the new game a shot, making it one of the biggest games on Steam right now.

Gray Zone Warfare launched via Steam’s Early Access program on April 30. On its Steam page, the game is perhaps not uniquely described as an “intense tactical FPS emphasizing realism.” In the game players create a generic-looking soldier person and join one of three private military companies (PMCs.) Be careful: If you join a different PMC than your friends, you won’t be able to play co-op with them.

Once you’re in the game, you can explore a large open-world filled with other players doing missions among NPC enemies, all of whom will try to kill you and stop you from extracting with loot. It’s similar to gameplay seen in other extraction shooters, like Escape From Tarkov and Call of Duty’s take on the mode, but with a bit more of a focus on quests and MMO-like features.

One interesting thing (Phew -Ed) about Gray Zone Warfare is that it features a complex health system. Instead of using health points, GZW (as we cool kids call it) simulates the human body “realistically.” So as you get injured you feel the effects of those wounds. Not in real life—don’t worry—but specifically affecting how you can play. Players have to identify how they are injured and treat the issues accordingly to survive.

Gray Zone Warfare saw a huge spike of players—over 60,000 active users on its first day—and since then it has been able to maintain over 40,000 players according to SteamDB charts. That’s pretty impressive for a non-free-to-play original FPS.

However, while a lot of players are hopping in because of the game’s realism and tactical action, many aren’t happy about GZW’s technical issues, including lag and poor performance. I’ve seen some Steam reviews suggest that players on high-end PCs have had to lower the game’s settings to the lowest options just to get a stable 60 FPS. Other complaints leveled against the game include poor enemy AI and frequent crashes. The developers seem aware of these issues, even posting a full guide on the game’s Steam page giving players advice on how to make the shooter run and play better. That hasn’t helped GZW avoid the dreaded “mixed reviews” status on Steam.

At this point, Gray Zone Warfare is still in the honeymoon phase of a new hot Steam game. These next few days will see more players show up, more press write about it, and larger player counts.

But soon, players will begin to turn on the game and take to Discord and Reddit to write up large rants about everything that is broken or that needs to be fixed. The first update will likely not be enough and many will stop playing as they wait for better news or, more likely, get distracted by the next big realistic shooter to blow up on Steam. I’ve seen this song and dance before. Hopefully, folks can have fun before it all gets too noisy.


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