Insurgency: Sandstorm - Quick Start Guide

This post gives a quick rundown of features and mechanics in Insurgency: Sandstorm. It is intended to help any player, new or old, get started and understand the essentials. This is a development build, so please be aware things below are subject to change.


  • Move with WSAD.
  • Lean with E and Q.
  • Press Tab to see the scoreboard/map overview.
  • Press Escape to see the rules of the game mode.
  • Customize your loadout by pressing the M key, even while you're dead. You will get this equipment when you next spawn, or if you select it while still in the area in which you spawn.
  • Players respawn in “reinforcement waves” or upon the completion of an objective by their teammates.
  • There is no crosshair. Use your weapon's sights by pressing RMB.
  • There is no precise ammo display. Check your ammo by holding R.
  • There is no kill feed. Confirm your kills by finding the body.
  • There are no hit indicators. Unless you count blood.


We are hosting matches via our Matchmaking (MM) system. You can't use the server browser in the Beta. Only the matchmaking is available.

Make sure you're connected to the server of your region in match preferences to have a smooth game experience.

Setting your server region and game type preferences:

  • From the Main Menu select PLAY.
  • From the bottom right of the screen select: MATCH PREFERENCES.
  • Then Tick the regions and game types you wish to match to.

Using the matchmaking system:

  • From the main menu select PLAY.
  • Then select either Versus Find Game or Cooperative Find Game.

You can also select COMPETITIVE from the top of the screen and queue there for Firefight 5v5.

Note that a Competitive Firefight 5v5 match only starts IF there are 10 players queuing for it.

We suggest selecting your region before you attempt to match for a more optimal experience.

Class and Loadout Menus

Upon joining a game, players first choose a class to play as. Clicking on a class will allow you to play as that class as long as a slot is available.

After selecting a class, you are taken to the loadout menu. From here you can customize your weapons and equipment. Each class has its own specific weapons, weapon upgrades and other equipment that are available to it.

Items and weapon upgrades are purchased with supply points, which is represented as a number beneath your loadout. The Supply count is the same for all classes but differs slightly between modes. No additional supply is awarded during the match.
The more equipment you carry, the slower you move.

You can access the loadout menu at any time by pressing the M key.

Note that scopes might impact your performance, especially x2 and beyond. You can change the Scope Quality in the Advanced video options to fix a potential FPS issue due to the scopes.

Character Customisation

From the Main menu select Customize to be taken to the character customisation menu. You can equip cosmetics which do not impact the gameplay. You can customise your character for both factions.

To do so, click on any outfit categories (Character, Eyewear, Headgear, Hands, Torso, Legs, Feet, Camo) and select the outfit you want to equip. As you equip new items the character will change in real time, reflecting your new outfit.

Locked cosmetics maybe purchased with “appearance credits”. These credits are obtainable by playing the game and levelling up.

For any players that were present in the Closed Alpha please delete your profile.sav in the below location: C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Local\Insurgency\Saved\SaveGames\Profile
Otherwise you may experience character body parts disappearing or showing two cosmetic options at once.

Fire Support

To call in Fire Support, a Commander player must be standing beside an Observer player. The Commander must equip his binoculars, look through them with RMB, and click LMB to call for that specific Fire Support. The Observer is equipped with a radio which is used to relay back to HQ the Fire Support order made by the Commander.

Fire Support can be selected by the Commander with the Fire Mode Selection key X when binoculars are in hand. Press X to cycle through the options and see the one selected at the bottom left hand corner of the screen. Hold X to bring up a radial menu, then select by mousing over the option you want and letting go.

Each Fire Support option has a finite amount of uses which is represented by a number, and each one has a cooldown. When playing as an Observer, always follow your Commander.

Insurgent Fire Support Options

  • Explosive Mortars
    Explosive mortar shells land in the target area.

  • Smoke Mortars
    Smoke mortar shells land in the target area, creating smoke clouds which provide cover to move.

  • Grenade Drones
    Repurposed commercial drones fly over a target area and drop grenades.

  • IED Drone
    A repurposed commercial drone flies into an enemy in the target area and detonates itself.

  • Rocket Barrage
    A high volume of explosive rockets land in the target area, killing those inside it.

  • Chemical Mortars
    Chemical mortar shells land in the target area, creating toxic clouds that deal damage to those inside it unless they are wearing Gas Masks.

Security Fire Support Options

  • Explosive Artillery
    Explosive artillery shells land in the target area.

  • Smoke Artillery
    Smoke artillery shells land in the target area, creating smoke clouds which provide cover to move.

  • Helicopter Gunship
    A helicopter gunship attacks the target area with a rocket strike, then patrols overhead with an explosive autocannon turret.

  • Minigun Support
    A support helicopter flies over the target area and engages enemy with its two side mounted miniguns.

  • Autocannon Strafe
    A jet plane strafes the target area in a line firing its explosive autocannon.

  • Gas Masks
    Gas Masks can be purchased in the Loadout Menu. When purchased, press B (by default) to equip them. A Gas Mask will protect a player from damage while inside Chemical Mortar clouds (Fire Support).

Other new game mechanics


Players can quickly climb, or vault, over waist high objects. Most weapons can be fired while vaulting, albeit without aiming down sights and at worse recoil.


Vehicles are a work in progress, but functional right now in Insurgency: Sandstorm. They can be driven with the movement keys. An emergency brake can be used with Space. Enter vehicles with the F key. Switch seats by looking at the seat where you want to be and pressing F.

Drivers can use short barreled weapons (SMG’s, pistols) by switching to the weapon with number keys or scroll wheel, thus letting go of the driver’s wheel. They can put their weapon away and drive again by pressing F on the wheel. Passengers can aim and fire all weapons, and can also lean out the window when inside the cabin of a vehicle.

A vehicle’s weak point is its engine in the front. Shoot it enough times and it’ll go kaboom.

Each window has health attached to it. If you shoot it enough times, it will shatter. Leaning out the window will also shatter the window if it hasn’t been shattered yet.

Ammo and Reloading Mechanics

Ammunition counts are hidden from the player most of the time. A player’s ammo will display at the bottom right hand corner when reloading, switching weapons, or performing an “Ammo Check” by holding R.

Ammo is seen as multiple gray boxes, each of which represent a weapon magazine. As the ammunition of a magazine is depleted, the box will also deplete. The magazine currently in the weapon is the one with the white bar above it.

Pressing R to reload will maintain the magazine and save any rounds left inside of it for later. If the magazine is empty however, it will be discarded.

Speed Reload

Pressing R twice quickly performs a Speed Reload. This will reload a player’s weapon faster, but toss away the magazine and its remaining bullets. Remember, if you expend all the rounds in a magazine, you might as well.

Note that it is not currently possible to pick up a mag that was tossed away.

Staged Reloads

Reloads can be interrupted when switching weapons or some other action that occupies the hands. A reload must then be manually resumed, but will resume at the point at which it was interrupted. For example, if a magazine is out of the weapon already, then the reload will resume at the point of putting a new magazine in.

Picking Up Weapons and Scavenging Ammo

Players can pick up weapons from the ground by tapping F.

Ammo can only be scavenged of weapons of the same magazine type (AKS74U/AK74, or M16A2/M16A4/M4A1/Mk 18 Mod 1, etc.)

Press and hold F to take ammunition. You can only get one magazine from the weapon.

The magazine you receive is the one that was loaded into the weapon, and it maintains whatever its round count was (ie half empty, full, 29 rounds, etc)


Versus Gamemode: Skirmish

Five total objectives: A, B, C, D, E

  • B, C, D are Capture Points
  • A and E are Fuel Trucks
  • A and B start out owned by Team One (Security)
  • D and E start out owned by Team Two (Insurgents)
  • C starts out neutral

Each team starts with 5 reinforcement waves, which respawn both players and vehicles.

Additional reinforcement waves can be earned by capturing control points.

When your team’s fuel truck is destroyed, it means two things:

  • No more vehicle respawning
  • Reinforcement waves can no longer be earned by capturing control points

Destroy the enemy’s fuel truck and secure all the capture points to win.

Versus Gamemode: Push

  • Three objectives must be captured and a fourth weapon cache objective must be destroyed by the attacking team in sequential order.

  • For each objective captured, attackers gain more reinforcements and time to attack the next.

  • Defenders have a finite amount of reinforcements and must use each wisely.

Versus Gamemode: Firefight (normal)

  • Slower capture times and different loadouts from Firefight (Competitive).

  • Three territorial objectives, one for each team, plus one neutral.

  • Each team only respawns when they secure an objective.

  • Secure all objectives or eliminate all enemies to win.

Versus Gamemode: Firefight (Competitive)

Rules are same as normal, but less time.

The Competitive match can only start once all 10 players have loaded the map and have spawned in.


  • Every life counts, making this a very suspenseful experience dependent upon teamwork.

  • Strategy comes in when deciding whether to attack an objective to respawn your team, or defend an objective to prevent the enemy team from respawning.

Coop Gamemode: Checkpoint

  • Players are inserted into the level at a specific location each round via vehicle transport.

  • Objectives must be captured or destroyed in sequential order.

  • Each successful objective respawns the team.

  • Once all the objectives have been completed, the players win and the round ends.

  • If all players on the team die, players lose the round.


Objectives are represented on HUD with icons overlayed with its designated letter. Objectives are generally territorial or destructible.

Territorial Objectives

Territorial objectives are represented with circular icons. In order to capture, you and any number of teammates must stay in the objective until the progress reaches 100%.

Objectives can be blocked from capture by members of the owning team (ie. defenders) standing in the objective. If the number of attackers outnumber the defenders they will still make progress towards the objective but once the capture progress reaches 100% any defending players will need to be cleared off the point to finalize the capture.

When attackers and defenders have equal number of players on the point, the capture progress will be frozen and will be shown as a STALEMATE on the HUD.

Destructible Objectives

Weapon Caches and Fuel Trucks are objectives that must be either protected or destroyed by players. They can be destroyed with C4, IEDs, rocket launchers or any other explosive.

For weapon caches, if you do not have any explosive, you can interact “rig” a weapon cache to blow by going up to it, pressing and holding F (use key).  Once rigging is complete the player will receive a detonator which must be used in order to blow the cache up.

Fuel Trucks, unlike caches can be destroyed through weapon fire although this takes a lot more damage to accomplish. Like caches, fuel trucks can be interacted with by pressing and holding the use key. Once progress is complete, the fuel truck’s fuel will be depleted which will disable the objective.

last edited by Netheos