Loadout is a fast-paced, third person shooter with near limitless amounts of gun customization, meaning that no two games are ever the same. It currently features ranked and unranked game modes that are centred around objective based gameplay, with custom games coming soon and the new annihilation mode. Silly, fun, and yet highly competitive, this PC shooter will launch so many different projectiles your way that you can’t help but pay it attention.
The big selling point of Loadout that sets it aside from every other shooter on the market is its unbelievable amount of gun customisation, offering literally billions of possible weapons to choose from. Players can improve their guns by levelling up various parts via matchmaking or by adding different components, changing projectiles, or by so many other means it is mindboggling. What blew me away though was just how much impact each change made to how the gun feels when you’re playing with it. My main criticism of the Borderlands series is that the guns often feel floaty and there is no real oomph behind your shots, even when your gun is obnoxiously oversized and powerful. Loadout doesn’t exactly perfect that problem, but considering that an average PC setup lacks the rumble of a console controller, you can feel an awful lot of punch behind even low level big weapons like a standard rocket launcher. If you want a light, agile rifle, you can make one. Want a 6-barreled rocket launcher with auto-fire that sends rockets corkscrewing through the air before exploding into cluster bombs and causing unimaginable mayhem? You bet your ass you can make it!
What makes or breaks any competitive game for me is how balanced it is. I always hated Call of Duty because some guns and play styles were simply better than others and that made so much of the game unplayable. Conversely, I loved Halo before ODST because of it’s Quake-like arena style layout which positioned weapons symmetrically between spawns so no one was at a disadvantage. Loadout does neither of those things, simply saying, “here are billions of guns, keep playing and keep learning and your gun will keep getting better!” It is balanced because every character is extremely powerful in their own way so when the dust settles, there is not a man left standing. Early access on Steam may have its controversies and rightly so, but when a studio uses it to fund production as it tries to balance everything and work out the bugs instead of just releasing the game unfinished, you can really see its benefits and those are certainly visible in Loadout.
Going into this game, I was dreading the fact that a huge part of Loadout is objective based. In my experience with shooters, I always found that whenever objectives are involved, people either ignore them completely and just farm kills, or you are so focused on them that the shooting element of the game is dwarfed. Bemused, I stumbled out of my first few games of Loadout absolutely stunned at how natural meeting objectives was. The objectives are so simply laid out that you just go along with them like breathing. When you’re playing TF2 you have to make a concerted effort to push the payload, or capture the control point, but in Loadout you find yourself doing all of these things without even noticing what you’re doing. In a way, I feel like this makes it less tense at times, but it keeps you constantly in the action and that breakneck carnage is the real strength of this game.
I personally have a small issue with the fact that you can buy experience boosters for in-game currency that you can purchase with real money, but for the most part, the micro-transaction model is fair and mainly consists of a wide variety of hilarious clothes, hats, and taunts that are both of no consequence to gameplay, and are great to rub your victory in the face of your enemy.
Edge of Reality has done a magnificent job with the art style and graphical fidelity of this game. Somehow, they have managed to inject into Loadout almost all of the charm of Team Fortress 2, but they have also succeeded in bringing it up-to-date, so it feels like a game that should be released in 2014. Every single asset in the game’s roster is bright and vibrant and every animation is smooth, be it projectiles, general movement, or loose limbs soaring majestically over a boxer shorts flag, hoisted high atop a flag pole surrounded by huge men dancing to Gangnam Style. Running the game on its highest settings, I found the shadow quality to be excellent and I could say the same about smoke and particle effects. The inclusion of an FOV slider was also a very welcome feature and being able to see more of what is going on around you definitely helps in multiplayer. I can see how playing this game with bad ping would be a real issue considering its fast-paced nature, but if your connection is reasonable, you should be fine considering how stable the servers seemed to be.
Right from the account creation menu I loved the sound design in Loadout. The menu features grimey rock music that makes you want to dive straight in and every asset feels satisfying to click which is something I am very picky about in game menus. As soon as you get into a game though, the noise is on a whole different level… Tesla guns, guns that heal, rockets exploding constantly, the guns don’t just look and feel cool, but they sound awesome too! Adding that final stroke to the masterful work they have done on this game’s main focus, the meaty explosions and the strange splat of the healing guns, the arcadey ping that you get whenever you hit an enemy, the random guitar solos whenever someone taunts you, everything just collects into something really quite wonderful. My only small qualm is that they need to adjust the difference in audio levels between the menus and when you’re in a game. Suddenly having my eardrums bleed having been dropped in the middle of a warzone after casually enjoying some low volume background music is not overly pleasant to say the least.
Rarely do I play a game for review purposes and then go back and play it again, but for Loadout I think I could make an exception. It is impossible to be bored when you are playing this game. The art style is captivating, the sound design is fantastic, and the customisation makes you keep coming back time and time again in hopes that today you can make your gun that little bit better. Bored of grinding for weeks for that new sight in Call of Duty? Then Loadout is undoubtedly the game for you. Strap on the bondage gear and get your hexibarrel rocket launcher ready, it’s going to get wild!
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