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Video Game / Insurgency: Sandstorm

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Insurgency: Sandstorm is the sequel to New World Interactive's 2014 game Insurgency. Unlike its previous Source engine incarnations, Sandstorm is built on the Unreal Engine 4 for the PC as well as the PS4 and Xbox One consoles. Aside from updated graphics and different game engine, it will also feature an eSports framework and had initially touted a single-player/co-op campaign before NWI announced that it was being indefinitely delayed in favor of prioritizing work on the multiplayer gameplay. It was released on PC on December 12, 2018, with console ports released on September 29, 2021.


This game provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: Insurgents with Suicide Vests are encountered as enemies in Security Co-Op mode. It takes roughly 2 seconds for the bomb to detonate which is preceded by a obnoxiously loud cellphone beeping noise warning players of impending doom, but they can be disarmed by killing them before the vest explodes.
  • Action Girl: The game introduces other female soldier characters to co-op and multiplayer, but only for the Security Team.
  • A.K.A.-47: Mostly averted, but a few examples play with this trope:
    • The SIG P226 is called the L106A1, which is its designation in the UK Military.
    • The Barrett M107CQ is known instead as the M82A1 CQ, which is not wrong since the M107 is the U.S. designation for an M82A1 with some modifications.
    • The PF-940 is an interesting example: It was the name of an aftermarket frame kit for Glock 17, but in this game it's used as the name of the gun itself.
      • Curiously, the weapon was known as the "M005" in the beta (likely a reference to the M007, the USMC's designation for the Glock 19M) and also sported the Glock 17's proper frame instead of an aftermarket one. However, this version was removed from launch and later replaced by the PF-940 we have today, presumably for legal reasons.
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  • All-or-Nothing Reloads: Averted with the staged reloading system. For example, you've fired a few shots from your weapon before removing the magazine for a reload, but you're forced to transition to your backup to fight off a threat. When you switch back to your first gun, it won't have a magazine and if it's a closed-bolt gun with a round still chambered, you can fire it off before loading the new mag in. Also, by default, all magazines (regardless of whether or not they have ammo left) are retained on reloads. Reloads can be sped up by dropping the mag on reload, but of course you lose that magazine and whatever ammo was left in it.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Some of the crazier DLC cosmetics, especially the masks available to the insurgents, actually exist. The Rogue SOF's skull mask, for example, was worn in some photos by Iraqi special forces.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: The game's level progression system offers this to the player, unlocking the ability to buy different fatigues, headwear or camo options for your Security or Insurgent avatar.
  • Armor Is Useless: Played with. Armor only protects what it covers on the character model,note  adds a significant amount of weight,note  and will typically only let a character out in the open survive an extra hit or two at medium to long range from 5.56 NATO or similar rifle rounds and possibly another one or two for pistols and shotguns at longer ranges. However it does become more useful when protecting against bullets penetrating walls and explosions. Light or No armor is what the Developers were balancing around, with Heavy Armor filling a niche, defensive role.
  • Asymmetric Multiplayer: The two competing factions have drastically different weapon selection and fire support options. Security use a variety of American and NATO weapons (M4A1, M16A4 and SCAR-H as such), while Insurgents use primarily Russian and Chinese weapons (AKM, AKS-74U and QBZ-97 as such) along with pieces of outdated Western arms (M1 Garand, M16A2, FAL and Sterling). Security has access to helicopters and strafing runs, while Insurgents can call in artillery or even chemical gas attacks. This situation is somewhat balanced due to the fact that Insurgents' equipment is slightly cheaper.
  • Attack Drone: The Insurgents have unique fire support in the form of quadcopter drones laden with explosives. One version involves a fleet of them flying overhead and literally rain grenades over the target area and another sends an IED drone that can fly into windows and detonate point blank. Quick trigger fingers will enable you to shoot them down before they drop their payloads.
  • BFG: The M82A1CQ and the M99 are .50 cal anti-material rifles that tear off limbs and send their targets flying. While they can be fired from the shoulder, their immense recoil make it best to use the bipod.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Unlike the previous Insurgency games, the Insurgents and even some of the Security forces now mostly speak in unsubtitled Arabic dialects, although the latter are more prone to mixing their conversations with English commands. Insurgents with the 'Mercenary' voice set also sometimes shout in Russian, suggesting they represent Chechen fighters or Russian military advisers Explanation .
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Even more so than Day of Infamy. Explosions or high caliber rounds can completely dismember bodies and heads will evaporate into Pink Mist.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Both the Security and Insurgent sides have access to outdated and obsolete weaponry. Security has the Tariq pistol (an Iraqi copy of the Beretta M1951). The Insurgency, as usual, gets the usual Warsaw Pact firearms such as the Makarov, AKM, SKS and Mosin-Nagant. They also get a few outdated NATO pieces such as the M16A2 and FN FAL.
    • The Nightfall update adds the Grease Gun to Security and the Sterling SMG and the Welrod to the Insurgents.
    • The Cold Blood update adds the M1 Garand for the Insurgents.
  • Buffy Speak: Security characters, if using the 'Militia' voice box, may shout orders in a less professional manner, alluding to the local security forces' inexperience with the latest military technology.
    Female Security Observer (calling for A10): Uurgh, the jet! The one that goes, "BRRRRRRRRRT".
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Averted, as thin pieces of wall or cover are easily pierced by most rifle rounds. However, concrete blocks and other substantial objects can provide safety from bullets. Weapons have penetration properties dependent on caliber, velocity, and distance from target.
  • Communications Officer: The Observer Class with their radio equipped is absolutely required to remain within 10 meters of a Commander attempting to call in fire support. If the Observer dies before they finish radioing in the support requested by the Commander, the support is not called in.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: A minor example, but certain weapons have one-to-one equivalents on the opposing side. For example, each faction has their own M1911 variant (The classic version for the Insurgents, and the modern M45 for the Security), their own M16 variant (Insurgents get the A2 while the Security has the A4, though the M4A1 and Mk 18 are Security-exclusive), and their own MP5 variant (A5 for Security, A2 for Insurgents). Each of the listed weapons function and perform identically to their OpFor counterparts but with two exceptions: The M16A2 has fewer optical options than its more modern A4 counterpart on the Security side, while the MP5A2 has the S-E-F trigger group (as opposed to the A5's 3-round burst group) and doesn't have access to a large-capacity drum magazine that is available to the A5 in certain game modes.
    • Some weapons also have functional equivalents on the opposite side, such as the M110 and the SVD being semi-auto snipers with 10 round magazines, the M82A1CQ and the M99 .50 cal rifles, and the AUG and the AKM as hard-hitting, 600 rpm assault rifles.
  • Deadly Gas: The Insurgents have access to mortars firing poison gas shells, dropping a deadly cloud of yellow gas over the target and damaging anyone in it without a mask. To a lesser extent, regular smoke will also cause characters to cough and give away their position if not wearing a gas mask.
  • Death from Above: With radio options given to the Officer via an Observer, several types of air or artillery support can be called in to assist his team... or give the enemy team a really bad time. For example; The Security Team's Blackhawk helicopter support hovers around the area spewing fire and hatred to any enemy targets but can be easily countered with a well-aimed RPG-7 round, while the Insurgents prefer using homemade quad-copters to deliver all kinds of payloads to their intended targets.
  • Dirty Cop: Patch 1.8, Operation Breakaway, adds rogue cop and SOF cosmetics to the Insurgent side, representing security forces that changed allegiance for unknown reasons.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: Players cannot aim, reload, or fire while sprinting. Additionally, hip-firing is difficult due to players not having any HUD Crosshairs and the bullets go exactly in the direction of where the muzzle is pointing, which is not locked to the center of the screen. Attempting to "Spray-and-Pray" at full auto beyond a few feet is often ill-advised aside from suppressive fire, though the effect can be significantly reduced by attaching a laser sight to the gun, which lets you know where the barrel is pointing exactly when not aiming down the sights. With practice, hipfire can be fairly accurate even without the laser.
  • Dynamic Entry: Doors can be kicked open from the correct side, or outright smashed down if kicked from the opposite side with the melee key. Liberal usage of explosives, or a few bullets to the lock and hinges, work just as well too.
  • Enemy Chatter: Player characters and bots will often shout out warnings of impending RPGs, ask their friendlies for status reports, or exchange insults to the enemy.
  • Fackler Scale of FPS Realism: Similar to its predecessors, Insurgency and Day of Infamy, it is pretty far on the realistic end.
  • Gatling Good: In several flavors exclusive to the Security team; the A10 Warthog's GAU-8/A Avenger and the Blackhawk's mounted GAU-19/A miniguns.
  • Grenade Hot Potato: Crossing over from Day of Infamy, tossed grenades can be thrown back by pressing use on them and turning to a safe direction. You even get an achievement for killing someone in this way. However, grenades are often cooked and traveled a long way so it's not recommended to go looking for one if you hear it but can't find it.
  • Gun Accessories: Like the previous game, weapons can be modified with barrel attachments, muzzle extensions, grips, laser sights, and scopes. This can lead to some unorthodox tactics, such as changing a shotgun into a sniper rifle using slugs, or using a bolt action rifle in close combat with a 1X Red Dot sight.
  • Gun Porn: With meticulous attention to detail and methodical, realistic reloads, Sandstorm has this in spades. Special mention should go to the fire selector switch on the weapons, which actually accurately indicate what fire mode the guns are on when selected. Transparent magazines also visibly deplete.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: Averted for the most part, but unfortunately played straight with the MR 73 revolver. The revolver is somehow able to equip a suppressor, which wouldn't be very effective due to its cylinder gap allowing gasses to escape. The MR 73 is also able to be reloaded while in single-action mode; this would also be impossible as cocking the hammer locks the cylinder in place, which would not allow it to swing out.
    • The fast reload for the AUG has the operator clutch the cheek rest with their thumb pressed against the bolt release. This somehow causes the magazine to be dropped.
  • Hand Cannon: Patch 1.10, Operation Exodus, adds the Desert Eagle and Manurhin MR-73 for the Insurgents and Security, respectively. Additionally, the MR-73 can be fitted with a bipod and a scope, turning it into a Sniper Pistol.
  • Hellish Copter: The minigun and gunship helicopters can be shot down with enough bullets or a lucky rocket. However, the helos can dodge rockets fired at them from the front and target anyone standing in the open.
  • Hint System: Loading screens include helpful tips such as a commander needing to be close to an observer to call in fire support, always play the objective, and eat chips with chopsticks to avoid getting your fingers greasy.
  • Idle Animation: A lack of inputs will eventually lead to your character inspecting their weapon.
  • I Shall Taunt You: In Co-Op mode, the 'Intimidate' voice command can be used to pinpoint a nearby enemy's rough location as they will always respond to your insults. These trains of trash talk are also possible in PvP, if the enemy isn't already insulting you over proximity chat.
    Security: You're in trouble now asshole!
    Insurgent: Hey! FUCK YOU!!!
  • Joke Item: The Welrod, a bolt-action pistol from WWII. You aren't going to kill anyone quickly except with a close-range headshot and yet it has the most attachment options of any sidearm, able to attach a multitude of sights, foregrips, and even ammunition.
  • Law of Inverse Recoil: While mostly averted for most primaries and pistols, the machine guns have a lot of recoil for being very heavy weapons and the Sterling submachine gun is near-uncontrollable despite being known for the opposite.
  • Lead the Target: Unlike previous incarnations, Sandstorm takes full advantage of the Unreal engine's physics to simulate bullet travel time, requiring this in order to hit long-range targets, while closer engagement ranges will still invoke Hitscan for simplicity.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Nearly all of the Insurgent head cosmetics cover the face and head with scarfs, masks, or balaclavas. Security also has access to balaclavas and neck gaiters, but those tend to show more skin. Both sides can invoke this with gas masks as well.
  • Missing Backblast: Averted. Whereas in the previous game rocket backblast did nothing more than suppress teammates, backblast here can and will kill anyone unfortunate enough to be caught behind one firing.
  • More Dakka: Drum/extended magazines, the machine guns and the mounted DShk are these. Other weapons will generally empty a magazine within a couple of seconds.
  • Multinational Team: The Security forces seem to be a mix of local forces/partisans, volunteers from other Arab nations and American advisers. Conversely, the Insurgents appear to be local resistance mixed with Russian/Chechen mercs and advisers.
  • Non-Uniform Uniform: Insurgents wear civilian clothes or military gear in bright, solid colors alongside white or black. Security wears earth tones and have proper military fatigues and camouflage patterns. They are also the only faction that can wear helmets and often show their faces.
  • Private Military Contractors: The 'Mercenary' voice for the Insurgents often references being paid for their services.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Female operators play out exactly the same as their male counterparts, save for their voice callouts.
  • Quick Melee: Alongside a dedicated knife, characters can perform a quick melee attack by bashing with their weapon or punching with their free hand. It is a One-Hit Kill if aimed for the head but the length of the animation means it loses out to just shooting point blank.
  • Qurac: The game takes place in a fictionalized Middle-Eastern, Arabic-speaking country in the midst of civil war with more than several parallels to the Syrian Civil War. Local female fighters and regular forces advised by American operators fight against insurgents employing Russian mercenaries and using chemical weapons. The reasons for the conflict are unclear and take place in a variety of environments.
  • Shouting Shooter: Soldiers will eventually yell or scream out war cries when they hold down the trigger of machine guns such as the M249, PKM, or the .50 caliber guns mounted on trucks.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Everyone on both sides in English, Arabic and/or Russian.
  • Standard Hollywood Strafing Procedure: The Security autocannon strafe drops a line of death perpendicular to where the commander is facing. The A-10's 30mm cannon is shown in its full destructive potential: exploding vehicles, penetrating buildings, destroying caches and messily mangling anyone caught in the line of fire, leaving behind a row of craters similar to those produced by rockets.
  • Tae Kwon Door: Kicking in a door will instantly kill anyone on the other side.
  • Theme Naming: The Security air support callsigns are named after typical fantasy role-playing classes; 'Warlock' is the A10 pilot, 'Cleric' being the Blackhawk with mounted minigun and 'Assassin' being an Apache gunship with rockets.
  • Universal Ammunition: Justified. You can scavenge ammunition from dropped weapons that use the same caliber and magazine, such as 5.56 STANAGs. The magazine models even remain the same when inserted into your weapon; for example, if you take a magazine from someone's Mk 18 (which in the game is loaded with PMAGs by default), to put into your M4 (which uses steel STANAG magazines), you now have an M4 loaded with a PMAG—a unique configuration you could not obtain from the game's loadout menu.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: The QTS-11 assault rifle added in the 2021 Chinese New Year update features an integrated grenade launcher, which isn't usable unless supply points are used to equip grenades. Even then, the options are called the "explosive launcher" or "smoke launcher".
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Version 1.3 introduced Frenzy, a Checkpoint variant where the AI-controlled Insurgents are essentially zombies; they carry machetes and molotovs, have non-playable classesnote , and scream a lot. It was replaced by Outpost in Version 1.8 reportedly due to low popularity and made into a Limited Time Playlist.