loadout reviewWhat would happen if Gears of War and Borderlands had a multiplayer only baby?  You’d probably get something fairly similar to Loadout.  Developed by Edge of Reality (Tony Hawk Pro Skater, The Sims 3), Loadout is a free to play 3rd person shooter available as of January 31, 2014 on Steam.  What do I think of this game?  I can’t believe I was able to stop playing long enough to write this article!

Non-stop action and absolutely brutal animations are what make Loadout great.  The maps aren’t numerous but they’re very well designed and look good in a cartoony sort of style (Think TF2).  With the way the maps are put together, they limit the ability for players to hide or camp.  Ever spent ten minutes running around a CoD or BattleField map without finding someone?  I guarantee that won’t happen in Loadout.  In fact, the developers are so committed to promoting action, the start of the match has players from both teams spawn in a circle next to each other, just waiting for the timer to hit zero and quickly throw every grenade and bullet into the fray.  It’s like a rugby scrum with rocket launchers and missing body parts.

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The one issue I have with the game is what the developers decided to call ‘Weaponcrafting.’  This is a feature that they advertise heavily, boasting you can make 44 billion different weapons in the game.  While the math might be accurate, it’s extremely misleading.  There are four types of weapons in Loadout: Rifles, Plasma, Beam and Rocket Launcher.  Each type of weapon is customizable with different scopes, magazines, accessories and payloads (ammo).  All the parts are interchangeable as long as they’re unlocked and there are a lot of things you can do, but my main objection is that the variations are sometimes so subtle there is no noticeable effect in game.  It reminds me of when I was really into World of Warcraft and would min/max to the point where I’d spend an hour and a half looking at gear to increase my DPS by three.  That being said, the weaponcrafting system still allows for a hundreds of noticeably different guns.

Many people get turned off when they hear the phrase free to play.  What they think is “pay to win.”  Edge of Reality did a wonderful job curbing the ability of players to gain a significant advantage by spending money while still offering enough goodies that people will still give them their cold hard cash.  For example, the in-game currency is called Blutes:  These Blutes can be earned by playing matches and spent on upgrades to your guns.  If you’re of a mind to donate to the great cause of Loadout, you can pay to double the amount of Blutes and experience you earn for your played matches.  No big advantage there.  There are also different outfits you can buy with real money but those are merely for aesthetics.  The only real advantage I see is the ability to unlock extra ‘loadouts’; think of them as characters which can be equipped with different weapons and switched to, to provide better match-ups depending on your opponents.

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Overall, I think this is a really solid game, especially for just coming out of early access.  The polish is something Edge of Reality should be praised for and despite some hiccups with their servers, it’s clear there is a demand for this sort of high octane shooter, if only as a distraction from the super competitive big box titles that are out there.  It’s on Steam.  It’s free.  Why aren’t you downloading Loadout already?

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