If you're a die hard MOH:AA fan like me, you might have been scouring the internet for anything that vaguely resembled trustworthy information about the Multiplayer portion of MOH: Airborne. Come on, let's face it, of course you buy a game to play it and have a good time but for long term enjoyment, Multiplayer is a must these days. For months leading up to the US release, there has been little information shed about the Multiplayer side of MOH: Airborne and there still is a lack of information out there. Being impatient, headstrong and just a little bit daft, I decided to take the plunge and buy MOH: Airborne through EA Link, forever doomed to toil with it if I ever want to play the game....
My introduction to MOH: Airborne wasn't the best to say the least. Aussie users of EA Link soon discovered that after paying for the game and expecting a 7.5Gb pre-load, all they got was 211Mb of Airborne Trailers. I won't go into how frustrating rectifying this was but it was eventually achieved through some EA forum rage and help from the resident EA representative in the MOH Airborne forum. Loading the game up, you're greeted with the same menu as the demo but this one has the all important Multiplayer option. Straight away you'll face glaring issue number one, you need an EA account to play online (ala BF2). There's nothing wrong with that, given it should support stats, rankings and other vaguely interesting titbits, however, it's all gone terribly wrong before it got off the ground. You can't change your name in-game, there is no support for clan tags and if you bought it off EA Link, you're stuck with whatever username you chose to sign up to EA Link with (given that most normal names are taken, it's not uncommon to see dave8934578934787349 running around in mulitplayer matches). To add to that frustrating issue, there's no option to have the game save your login details, so every time you load the game and want to have a bash online you need to manually enter your username and password.
Once logged onto the EA servers you progress to the next multiplayer menu and those with a keen enough eye will notice something missing. Yes, there is no LAN support, nothing, I guess they expect you to start a server online and have your LAN mates use your internet connection to join your server, who knows.. Straight off the bat this has made a huge number of die-hard MOH fans cranky. Going into the Matchmaking service doesn't make things look much better either. Yes, it's only early days and it hasn't even been released everywhere, that still doesn't explain the pathetically low number of players. This afternoon (2pm or so) there were a little over 100 players online. Load up the server list and all is revealed. If you've been keeping an eye on MOH Airborne news, you'll have heard it didn't ship with dedicated server software and that one fact has delivered a stunning blow to MOH: Airborne's Multiplayer goolies. At this stage there are only player hosted servers online and the official EA estimate of a patch release with dedicated server support is September 17, remembering that there will most certainly be no possibility of ISP hosted servers until then, MP is set to be just as dudded here in Australia as it has been in the US (I guess we can rest easy with the fact that as we get the game later, we don't have to wait as long for the dedicated server support).
With so few servers up a lot are 100% full before you know it and if you join an empty one you'll have enough buddies to start having a good go soon enough. Server capacity is a max of 12 for player hosted games (it has been stated that there should be a 24 or so player max capacity with the dedicated server) and though this sounds a low number, when it's 6 a side you're never short of a good firefight. That being said, if you want a good firefight you've got to be prepared for some angry time while you're trying to join a server. Lord knows who designed the listen server setup that the player hosted games run on, all I know is it's utterly crap. Half the time you try to join a server it'll tell you it cannot connect to the host. They were nice enough to add a retry button but mash that all you want, it's futile. Click around on random servers and you'll eventually find one that might let you join. This is such an odd problem, it's not because of high ping because I've tried hosting a server for other Aussies and they can't connect to me and when they host I can connect to them, yet our servers fill up with other randoms. The last oddity you'll notice before you finally join a game is that the ping column doesn't work, all servers show a 0 ping and this also holds true for the player ping in the score list.