Created by the minds at Texas-based developer Edge of Reality (Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark), Loadout is a fast-paced, third-person shooter which has gained a lot of fans since its launch in January 2014 on PC. With its PS4 debut this month, Loadout becomes the latest game to adopt the free-to-play model with optional microtransactions available to enrich the experience.
The main focus of Loadout is PvP, with five different multiplayer modes that require team-play and communication in order to come out of top. First up, there’s ‘Jackhammer’, a kind of capture-the-flag style event, but with hammers, where you must capture the opponent’s hammer then bring it to the base. You also can gain bonus experience by killing with the hammer on the way back to your base. ‘Blitz’ is another capture-style mode, with your team having to takeover different locations on the map and defend them from the other team.
‘Domination’ will be familiar to any fan of multiplayer shooters, with players having to capture three spread out control points simultaneously to win the game. Points can be captured from a neutral state and recaptured from the enemy team, while ‘Extraction’ requires one person in each team having to collect samples of Blutonium and bring them back to a certain point. You can explode the samples by shooting them also, which adds an extra twist as you attempt to stop your opponent getting back to the check-point.
Finally, there’s ‘Death Snatch’, which is a deathmatch mode with a twist; though it’s probably the weakest mode on offer. The main focus is collecting vials of Blutonium after each kill, but if you kill from long range it can be frustrating as it means the enemy can get to the vial before you, thus denying you the points. Overall, it’s a solid set of multiplayer modes, with a few tweaks on the usual set-ups giving them a fresh impetus. With its unique cartoon-style, gameplay is visually-entertaining and combat is fast-paced and, generally, quite exciting.
Loadout also features a fairly lengthy PvE campaign, with the first few chapters helping you get used to the fast-paced controls and gameplay. The main missions are pretty much the same as PvP, but each one has a set of challenges that you have to surpass in order to unlock the next missions or chapters. These range from getting grenade kills to healing team mates. The missions reward you with blutes, which is the currency used to purchase items in the shops, so it’s worth your efforts. They can also give you weapon crates or items based on the mission. Also, at the end of each chapter there is a 1000 Spacebuks prize, which is the real-life currency used to purchase goodies. This means by the end of all the chapters you will have 5000 Spacebuks, which I used for buying bombs as certain lockboxes need them.
One of my gripes with Loadout is the amount of XP that you need to level up your character. which means you have to complete a lot of matches before you see that EXP bar tick over. However, once you get a weapon you like, or once you have got enough practice in the game, you do start getting kill streaks or assist streaks which ensures there’s a feeling of progression, but it still feels like a huge grind. There is an XP boost you can purchase with blutes, or with the Spacebuks, which comes in handy. I do recommend purchasing these boosts as they will help out a lot. You can also purchase a blutes multiplier.
One of the main highlights of Loadout are the excellent weapon customization options. You start with the base frame of the weapon, which could be a rocket launcher,or beam/pulse rifle, then use this frame to change the magazine,barrel,ammo type,trigger,or sight. You can also add effects to the rocket. There is so much you can do the weapons; my favourite rocket launcher had six barrels, with a full auto trigger that would scuttle along the ground till it reached the target then would explode with cluster grenades. You can also purchase parts with Spacebuks, but the items are scaled to your level and are easily gained during matches or from purchasing parts in the store using blutes. Consequently, this is one of the few F2P games that isn’t, thankfully, pay-2-win. You can also name your weapon, which is visible by other players also. Also, after dieing, other players can pick up your weapon including team mates, so if you see a ‘Believe In Garri’ rocket launcher on the floor, you know who you’re fighting! It’s a nice touch, and a level of customization that you don’t often see in shooters. It basically means you can create your own classes!
The characters can also be completely customized with unlockable outfits, though the only way to purchase specific clothes is by using Spacebuks, which may put some people off. It’s worth noting though that you can unlock random outfits from doing missions and sometimes from lootboxes. The prices seem very fair also, with the only expensive purchase you’re likely to make being the hilarious taunts. There are multiple taunts you can get for your customized character, including the Carlton Dance and Smooth Criminal. They can be used during battles, or during the end screen if your team has won the match. Apart from the visual effect of seeing your character shaking their booty, there is no real gameplay advantage to having the taunts; so again its based on personal choice whether you decide to purchase any. The animations are excellent for the taunts and very funny.
Indeed, Loadout is a lot of fun to play, especially if you’re in a private party with friends and working together as a team. The cartoon-style graphics and characters are charming, the fast-paced action and fluid combat exciting, and the ability to customize your weapons to such an extent is fantastic and sets it apart from other shooters. Though there’s currently an issue with player movement, with your character suddenly moving uncontrollably on-screen, the developer is aware of this problem and will be patching this ASAP. But, even with that current issue, Loadout is well worth a look; and there’s nothing to lose as it’s free.