One of the coolest aspects of airsoft at large is the immense amount of variety that can be conjured within each and every game.
If you’re new to this flavor of nerddom, it can often be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out what’s what–as gameplay type will often dictate what kit and gun you should roll to get the most bang for your buck.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, we think that airsoft can broadly be divided into 3 main types of distinct games: Force on Force, Speedsoft, and Milsim.
Everyone’s First Toe in the Water: Casual Force on Force Pickup Games
Chances are, your first exposure to semi-organized airsoft games will come in the form of a force on force game. Whether that game occurs at an actual sanctioned field or your backyard (assuming you have the privacy and common sense to be able to do that and not terrify the neighbors), the basic gist is going to remain the same.
Teams are divided up into generally equal numbers, and must then eliminate each other until one team is easily declared the winner.
There are however thousands of variations on that same core premise–and depending on the craftiness of your local field’s refs, you might see other classic entry-level game types thrown in as well.
Capture the flag, rescue the downed pilot, capture strategic points on the field, disarm the nuclear briefcase–whatever the fine details might be, casual and pickup force on force games generally aim to keep the atmosphere light, the rules simple, and the game fun.
All fields are obviously going to have their own regulations when it comes to the actual airsoft guns used during games on their property, and you should pay very careful attention to what those rules might be.
Generally speaking, most pickup field games are going to have an FPS limit of 400 as measured with a .20g BB, or 350 FPS for CQB / indoor play.
Fields may also enforce a medium engagement distance –meaning that engaging an enemy player within the MED is a no-go for safety reasons. As always, you should ensure that you’re well-read on whatever literature your field may have available before heading out, and pay specific attention to the safety brief if the refs give one before the game.
With all of that being said, force on force games are a fantastic way for newer players to get out and begin to get a feel for how their gun handles, the mechanics of teamplay that occur organically within an airsoft game, and how to follow the rules that come along with organized way in an honorable manner.
These games are definitely noob friendly–so what are you waiting for?
Fast-Paced, (Sometimes) Competitive Action: Speedsoft
If you’re looking for a version of airsoft that thrives on tricked out guns, twitch reflexes, and aggressive playstyles–Speedsoft might just be for you!
While the term itself is a bit of a slang casually used to refer to more competitive gameplay that’s not at all concerned with scenarios, Speedsoft has evolved over the last decade into what is essentially paintball with airsoft guns.
Players typically focus on building gun setups that allow for an incredibly high rate of fire–often with HPA systems–to really saturate a target area and force an enemy player to call their hit quickly to facilitate blazing-fast gameplay.
Speedsoft is not for the faint of heart! While the core premise is quite simple–use speed, aggression, and a gun tuned right up to the allowable limits to win–the gameplay itself can be downright brutal. We’re sure you can imagine what being nailed by a gun shooting 30 rounds per second is like–and it’s not pleasant.
While none of us here at OTT are particularly big fans of speedsoft gameplay, its continued growth obviously means that there are folks who are. We’re now at a place where several different brands have cropped up that aim to cater specifically to the speedsoft player, such as SpeedQB, mixing functionality with visual aesthetic and stylistic flair that abandons wholesale the military theme that airsoft generally draws from.
If you want pulse-pounding gameplay, have a high tolerance for pain, and harbor a fierce competitive spirit–speedsoft might just be for you.
It’s Basically LARPing, but with Guns: Milsim
Standing in stark contrast to competitive gameplay of speedsoft is Milsim–obviously short for military simulation.
While there’s no hard definition on what exactly Milsim is exactly, generally the games are going to revolve around immersive environments, storytelling, and some semblance of kit and gear restrictions.
On the shallow side, maybe you get a bit of backstory on the factors that lead into the event that you’re attending–helping you understand the tensions between the in-game actors. In the very deep end of the nerd pool, the details regarding the plot and participants are crucial to the gameplay itself, and you’ll likely need to join an existing in-game “unit” to get the most out of the event.
Milsim bridges the gap between LARPing and airsoft–and if you’re too cool to spend a weekend doing a silly accent or act out your death when you’re hit, you may want to steer clear.
While not all events push the envelope with regards to gameplay and the physical element of the game, the more extreme event promoters host non-stop, 40-hour games where you’re never truly out of the event’s in-game battle. You’re going to be placed within a squad, being directed by a squad leader, who’s, in turn, taking directions from your platoon leader, who ultimately takes direction from the CO.
At their best, milsim events are going to allow you to get totally lost within the fake world the game sets up as being very real–which is usually pretty easy when you’re essentially living within it for a few days at a time.
It’s the small moments–going on a patrol in a torrential downpour with night vision to probe the enemy patrol base’s nighttime defenses, hearing the distant (or not so distant) crack of real rifles firing blanks echo throughout the event, using frag grenades to push into and clear out rooms with a squad of your dork friends, and the laughter-filled downtime that breeds inside jokes between friends from equal parts exhausted delirium and camaraderie.
All of these things are found uniquely within the world of hardcore, absolutely dorky military simulation-based airsoft–and they’re absolutely magical if you’re willing to accept how silly it all is.
Wrapping It All Up
So there you have it–whether you’re looking for a casual weekend thing to do with friends, or you want to reenact Call of Duty games, there’s a variety of airsoft for everyone.
Finding your niche in airsoft may take some exploration, but it’s definitely worth it when you find a game that makes you unable to wipe the grin off your face.
So how about it–What variety of airsoft interests you the most? If you’re an experienced player, where did you start or how did you find your favorite? Tell us about it in the comments! Don’t forget to give us a like on Facebook to see the latest from OTT!