“You’re entering through a fatal funnel. And you don't know what's waiting on you. They are in there just waiting on you to make the wrong move—which is to come through the door.”
- Cpl Dane Thompson
Welcome to the seventh entry in our SITREP developer diary series. Until now, we have demonstrated very direct fireteam entry into houses and larger buildings. Kicking down the front door certainly is an option, but it’s not the only option in Six Days. Today, we want to expand on the entry methods and tactics available to players.
Please remember that all assets shown are currently a work-in-progress.
Since Six Days in Fallujah’s inception, we’ve spoken with more than 100 Marines and Soldiers who have shared their very specific and unique experiences in urban combat. No two combat scenarios have been the same. However, there is one constant among every story that’s been shared with our development team—the fatal funnel is urban combat’s worst nightmare.
The fatal funnel is not only a narrow entrance that leaves little room for maneuverability. It’s also easily defended by the enemy inside. Attackers are tasked with forcing an entry that’s not only tight, but offers little to no visibility inside. Enemy opposition, on the other hand, have all the cards at their disposal—they have complete visibility on infiltrators, and their degree of coverage is miniscule compared to that of the attacking force. The odds for those entering the fatal funnel are very bad.
“The problem is that if you walk out there, the moment your head breaks the doorway, he can shoot you in the head. It's just combat geometry.“ — 1st Lt. Jesse Grapes
Fallujah’s rough, urban environment included thousands of fatal funnels, and Marines had to take the first steps into the unknown with every single building they cleared. The biggest question for these Marines often became, “How do we break this geometry?” The fatal funnel is inevitable when house-clearing, but there are specific tactics employed by Marines and Soldiers designed to mitigate as much risk as possible.
A theme we heard from many Marines and Soldiers was avoiding the fatal funnel by finding alternate ways into houses. So, based on specific stories, we created specific methods in the game for players to climb to rooftops, as well as enter through windows, both of which we heard examples of happening repeatedly during the battle.
We’ve also touched briefly on the OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) loop in a previous entry, and we want to remind everyone again of the methodology that applies when house-clearing: before breaching a building or compound in Fallujah, it's essential to take a moment to pause, listen, and observe across the entire fireteam. How many windows does the building have? Are Insurgents visible from the outside of the compound? What material is the front door made of? Can you hear anyone inside?
For today’s diary, players observe a two-story building that has two valid entry points to the front, with alternate entries at the rear. The fireteam orients itself and decides that the best course of action is not to funnel four members of the fireteam into a single door, but instead to split the team for a simultaneous entry. Dividing the fireteam into two groups of two, the teams assault the building with overwhelming speed and precision at the very same time.
Here, the fatal funnel becomes less fatal as it’s now split between two entries instead of one. Enemy Insurgents, while intelligent with the home-base advantage, aren’t expecting an attack on two fronts. The keywords here are distraction and disorientation. Enemies that are disoriented are more easily defeated, and Six Days' AI system will cause enemies to become disoriented when exposed to multiple threats. While this isn’t always a guarantee for success, split-entry certainly pushes the needle back in the direction of the Marines.
While this is just one example of clearing a building in Six Days, Procedural Architecture offers a variety of possibilities that will fundamentally change the way players approach house-clearing. You may find yourself without a door and a window and instead, there may be two doors. Alternatively, an entry from the rear could pose a viable distraction. While a full-frontal assault led by two Marines breaks out in the front-yard, the remaining two Marines may lead a precise takedown from the backyard. Split-entry still applies here, but the means in which it’s employed varies. And, it’s entirely up to the player to decide.
Let’s consider another scenario: players assess that the fatal funnel on the front doorway isn’t a viable option. The backyard is too heavily defended or doesn’t present enough cover. All of the windows are barricaded and offer no entry options. How do you proceed?
“The logic behind it is that you don't want to create a trapped rat. When you clear from the bottom up, enemies have nowhere else to go, so they’re more inclined to stay and fight to the death. Then, if you’re going top down, and they have the opportunity to either fight you, or, when they feared they were gonna die, just run and leave, then you can still take over the building.” — Sgt. Adam Banotai
Enemies almost always prepared their defenses against door entries on the first floor. Very frequently, they created makeshift barricades out of rubble, furniture, and anything else they could find. Then, they laid in wait with their weapon trained on the front door.
Clearing from the top down allows players to defeat enemy defenses that are oriented towards doors on the main floor. It can also catch Insurgents inside by surprise. As Sgt. Banotai suggests, if you clear from the top down, Six Days' AI system can even push insurgents into the streets (depending on the situation), where they might get engaged by a nearby AAV or other vehicles.
There are many ways in Six Days to access the top floor of buildings from the outside. In some cases, there will be planks connecting rooftops between buildings. In others, there are staircases available. Additionally, Marines and Soldiers were able to either climb or hoist each other up a floor, and we’re including this third method for rooftop entry by indicating vaultable walls with green vinery. These provide access to second and third-floor levels, but it’s important to remember your character is vulnerable to incoming fire while you complete the vaulting animation.
These are just some of the many ways players can tackle house-clearing. With Procedural Architecture presenting a variety of geographical obstacles and fireteam tactics left up to player choice, no two entries are going to be the exact same in Six Days. Just like actual combat, players will never know what to expect.