With all the hubbub over the definition of the word “authentic” and its relationship with word “realistic,” we can’t lose sight of an equally important aspect of Medal of Honor: Warfighter. We need to ask the hard-hitting questions, the ones that matter to people looking to drop $60 in the thick of the fall rush. Gamers want to know, “Is the game fun?” and “Will the multiplayer compete with Call of Duty?” EA and Danger Close are hard at work making sure the answer to both of those questions is, “yes.”

After playing a single 15-minute multiplayer match, the larger questions about the single-player story, the longevity of the title’s competitive modes and whether or not the progression system is satisfying are beyond my reach. For that, we’ll have to wait for a more in-depth preview opportunity or the review proper. What I can tell you is that the game brings some interesting ideas to the table that may hold people who simply can’t stand the idea of jumping into a match with a bunch of random people.

With regard to competitive shooters, I regard myself a social gamer. No, I don’t mean that I want to send you annoying Facebook requests to sheer my fields or plough my sheep. I mean that I want to trash talk people I know. If I can’t sit on the couch alongside a friend with beer in hand, I want to do it over Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network. Actually having people to talk with during a typically silent Deathmatch makes the experience worthwhile for me. It’s not easy to get a large enough group together, though. Real life gets in the way.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s Fireteam system helps address that problem in a smart way. With this feature, members of the pair will always know where their partner is on the map. Should one of you get taken out, the remaining operator can score a revenge kill and reduce respawn time. Additionally, if your teammate is still alive and out of sight, you can spawn right on him. It’s clever, and it means that you can have an enjoyable experience with only one friend on your larger team.

What we experienced bears out the gameplay device. Even though my partner, Staff Writer Jonathon Dornbush, and I could only hear each other (though that was due to the setup at the preview), the four Fireteams ended up coordinating very well.  Each pairing was quite effective on their own, and facilitating verbal communication between two people is far easier than coordinating a larger team. Outside of the Fireteams, nonverbal cues from other allied players—seeing where others were moving and setting up around capture points—(along with the announcer’s helpful warnings) made things flow smoothly.

One of the other things that sets Warfighter apart from Battlefield and Call of Duty is its approach to classes and loadouts. Instead of traditional soldiers, engineers, medics and snipers, the new Medal of Honor will feature nearly 20 different types of Tier 1 Operators from countries around the world.  Sure, these are just new names for character types we’ve seen many times before, but it gives the game a lot more flavor.

I had a great time playing the gorgeous and detailed multiplayer preview of Medal of Honor: Warfighter, and it has put the game on my radar. EA and developer Danger Close have a hard road ahead, though. With the bar for narrative crafting in military shooters having just been raised with Spec Ops: The Line and going head to head with Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Warfighter needs to be the whole package if it’s going to make a dent in the market come this fall.