Loadout is an arena style shooter that makes a good first impression. One thing you notice immediately are the controls, they’re fantastic. Everything from the aiming to the movement of your character is spot on, making your mouse and keyboard feel like an extension of your thoughts. They almost never get in the way of the action, something that even the most big budget and focus tested games can’t claim to. After that first match though, Loadout’s enjoyment only seems to decline the more you play and the occasional highpoint that follows is brought down by a lack of content and insane micro transactions.
Loadout is a game that collects many ideas from both the past and the present. Modern game modes like Kill Confirmed make an appearance alongside no-fall damage and health packs. Primarily though, Loadout is inspired by old-school classics like Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament. Its art style and graphics are cartoony and nicely fit in with the game’s feel and tone. One of the other things you will notice right away is the gore and violence. Characters will lose legs, arms, heads and on some occasions be blown in half. The result is something that stands out at first but as you get used to it quickly, its appeal is short lived.
The enjoyment of Loadout’s over-the-top violence would probably last longer if its weapons felt like they had more of a punch to them. No matter the weapon combination you’re using, the weapons don’t feel like they have much of an impact, mostly due to the sound effects which are rather lacking. Since we’re talking about weapons I guess I have to talk about one of the game’s big selling points.
Loadout is yet another one of these games that promises insane customization, allowing you to “create your own guns”. Unfortunately, it’s a gimmick that gets old quickly. Thankfully, you can’t use micro transactions on weapons so there shouldn’t be any cases of “Pay to Win” but that doesn’t mean the system is great. The main drag is that most it is attached to a “tech tree” where you have to constantly unlock things you don’t care about to get to the things you want. Because of this, you end up having to spend a lot of in-game credits to make something as basic as a bolt-action sniper rifle.
There are some more interesting combinations you can create, like having your gun dispense health to boost your teammate’s health and firing lighting rounds that can chain-link multiple enemies. However, even these fall short of their potential due to what I said earlier, many of the weapons aren’t all that satisfying to use. The ability to test them on a range before buying the parts to make them is cool though, and something I hope to see in more free-to-play games.
Ultimately, the gun-creation system is interesting but not as unique as it seems to think it is. Most combinations aren’t all that effective either so it’s a case of quantity over quality. The same can’t be said for the maps but that doesn’t mean their great either. The levels are well designed with only one of them standing out to me as too big but there are so few of them at launch you start to get sick of them pretty quickly. Sure, there are night time versions of them but that’s not enough to stop them from getting boring. Edge of Reality has said they plan to add more as time goes on but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case.
The last thing I want to talk about are the previously mentioned insane micro transactions. That tagline next to “Loadout Review” is not a joke. If you want to run around with nothing but pixels covering up your character’s junk like in Saints Row, you have to get two $20 dollar packs and a $5 dollar one after that. That’s just the biggest example but trust me, every single thing in the outfitter menu is insanely over-priced and makes this entire section of the game completely pointless. In this day and age where you can buy entire games for single digits, having to pay six dollars for a marine helmet that has no gameplay effect whatsoever is insulting.
Ultimately, great controls and some occasional laughs aren’t enough to stop Loadout from being an average game and one that doesn’t deserve your time. However, it does have one positive effect and that is, it makes you want to play UT2K4 again and that my friends, is never a bad thing.