Two new shooters this week! Oh yeah!
Loadout has been around for a while, but it only went out of early access this past Friday. There’s a lot that can be said about the game, but most of it only evokes whhhh. Yeah, it’s okay, I guess. It’s trying really really hard to be exceptional, but it’s not quite there yet.
It’s a third-person shooter that boasts highly customisable weapons, allowing you to make whatever gun you like — and kill people with it! And that’s true, to an extent. But the customisation options really aren’t as deep as I have been led to believe. Most guns I’ve seen feel like “I’ve seen that in Unreal”, ”I’ve seen that in Unreal”, ”Wow, that’s crazy, but why would I use it?”, and “I’ve seen that in Unreal”. I’m beginning to suspect that Unreal might’ve been a major inspiration for Loadout. Or maybe Unreal has the best selection of weapons.
But let’s talk about the good stuff first. The basic movement and gunplay are quite solid. There’s nothing new, but nothing stands out as being bad or wrong. Graphics and decent, and most of the game’s humour is of a graphical nature. Mostly over-the-top ultraviolence and gross-out stuff, and a fascination with middle fingers. It’s certainly crass and immature, but it’s not trying to take itself serious at all, so unless you’re put off by that sort of thing, it works fine. Shots can leave characters missing their head save for a (tiny) brain and a pair of eyeballs or gaping wounds so large you can see straight through to the other side. Fire damage can burn off one’s hair and leave them a charred mess running around. Death animations can also look very painful… and then the corpse sticks its middle finger up. It’s quite graphic is what I’m saying — but doesn’t come off as overly cruel or mean-spirited.
Unfortunately, this is not supported at all by the game’s sound design. There’s a loud theme playing in the menus, but the game itself is oddly quiet. Gun sounds are your usual “pew-pew-pew” and “boom” and “dakka dakka dakka” and “bzzzzzzzzzz”, but it all sounds subdued compared to the over the top action going on. The characters are mostly quiet, making little more noise than a generic-sounding death scream (while falling off the map inexplicably produces a Goofy yell, and it’s hilarious), and the announcer is a disinterested-sounding female voice who may be going for disembodied AI feel. Where’s my muh-muh-MONSTER KILL?
The maps are mostly fairly small and open, game modes are team deathmatch, king of the hill, capture the flag with a few twists, and a fairly unique thing where one player has to collect blue rocks scattered all over the map and deliver them to gridners, while the rest of the team does their best to cover him and prevent the other team from doing the same. It’s fun.
Now, the problems. As I said, all the gun customisation is undermined by the game’s other elements. Firstly, you’re limited to carrying two guns. You’ll probably want something more versatile to occupy one slot all the time, and probably something to complement it in the other. This already limits the more outlandish designs you can use. All the game modes are played in 4 vs. 4, which isn’t really enough to use the healing and buffing guns. Plus, you’ll be aiming down sights a lot to increase accuracy, somewhat limiting the game’s twitch gameplay. Even being able to pick up weapons other players made, it’s very limiting. Seriously, 8 players is not enough, this kind of game needs a bigger crowd!
And for all that customisation, you really can’t bring that much versatility to the game. While every single firing mode from the Unreal games can be replicated (what did I say about it being an inspiration?), most weapons do just that: replicate a single firing mode from Unreal. Remember the supremely versatile rocket launcher? Yeah, that’s four different weapons in Loadout. And you can only carry two!
Oh, and since everybody starts with both their weapons and have unlimited ammo, snipers are more annoying than ever.
Also, where’s my deathmatch? Why is there no deathmatch?
On the exact opposite of the spectrum is Insurgency. There’s really not a lot I can say about it. Either treat it as Red Orchestra, but set in modern times, or how Counter-Strike should have been. No crosshairs, one bullet is usually enough to kill you, cooperation is required to get absolutely anywhere — it’s a military simulator!
In fact, since almost everyone carries an automatic weapon, I’d say cooperation is even more important than it is in RO!
And of course, everyone plays it like Counter-Strike. Running through smoke, even if it was set defensively! Sprinting into danger! Following the trail of friendly corpses because there must be enemies at the end! Accuse everyone else of camping! Make monkey sounds at the end of a round! I haven’t raged at a game so hard for quite a while.
But that’s more of a community problem, and it’ll probably clear itself somewhat after the game’s been out for a while longer and those kind of players have gone back to their counterstrikes and battlefields and calls of duties and whatever it is they play these days. Or possibly learnt some tactics.
The only non-technical complaint I have is that voice call-outs seem to be arbitrarily missing. You can request backup or covering fire using the quick chat, but you’ll have to enable your microphone to let everyone know you’re throwing a grenade. It’s odd.
Here’s an example of stupidity I simply must share: someone said that tracer rounds are used so you know how many shots you have left before reloading (magazines are loaded so that tracers come out more often as it empties), and light machine guns don’t run out of ammo, therefore LMGs don’t need tracer rounds.