My Scrambled Thoughts: Loadout (PC)

The pixel face of third person shooters.
The pixel face of third person shooters.

Loadout is a newly released free-to-play video game from developers Edge of Reality. Anyone who has played Team Fortress 2, Monday Night Combat/Super Monday Night Combat or any type of arena based combat game like Unreal Tournament will feel at home in Loadout. The following is My Scrambled Thoughts on Loadout.

I have been playing Loadout a lot recently and I have been enjoying it. When I first heard about the game I quickly dismissed it as a vulgar kids game. While that is mostly true, this aspect only makes up about less than half of the game and sells the game short. These aspects feel more like a marketing trick than a true design choice as the game plays mostly safe in its modes and gameplay. It’s not like you run around bumming flag posts to gain points and doing the various rude taunts don’t even seem to give you more points.

(Click an image to see a larger version):

Damage is shown with dismemberment but healing heals most.

The art style of the game is kind of strange and is one of the first things you will notice. Loadout has a cell shaded look with strong cartoon violence, while Team Fortress 2 has a similar look, Loadout is more bloody and violent. I like the look of the game, its clean but also offers plenty of space for the developers and players to customise the way the game looks. Each character is instantly recognisable which isn’t an easy thing to do in a game like this, however this isn’t that important as characters all play the same. The game isn’t very graphically demanding so most people will be able to play the game on the highest settings even on old machines which is good.

Music in Loadout stellar, it suits the game and so far hasn’t gotten annoying. While the music and sound effects in the game are mostly good the biggest disappointment in this department is the lack of character voices. In games like Team Fortress 2 each character has unique and varied speech options. Whether you choose to make your character say something or if your character says something by themselves they are always talking and giving gameplay feedback to the player. These player interactions adds to the game so with Loadout characters not having any audio identity is a big hole in the experience. The only unique aspects of a character is the visual choices and the various taunts which is good but I don’t feel is enough when games like Team Fortress 2 and others do more.

You can taunt when winning but each taunt doesn’t blend well.

As I mentioned earlier the game play is similar to other arena based games. While most arena games are FPS games, Loadout is a third person game which many may not like but makes sense in the way it plays. With a third person view you can see all your character customisations all the time (arguably not essential) and it makes the rolling and jumping easier. Jumping and rolling is the main the component of Loadout’s gameplay but thankfully these are easy to pull off and add a lot to the unoriginal shooing mechanics.

My lovely and deadly "CockaSpaniel" laser gun.
My lovely and deadly “CockaSpaniel” laser gun.

There are several ways to play Loadout PvP Causal (Player vs Player), PvB Casual (Player vs Bots) or PvP ranked. The casual mode is good for people who want to play with friends or have a more relaxing time while ranked is the main event. Casual modes are where I spend most of my time seeing as it has the most maps (around 5) and modes (around 4) while ranked only has one base mode and one map. The developers have said more maps and modes will come soon but at the moment there is just enough to keep you playing but can easily become repetitive if played for long periods of time. Loadout features familiar game modes but with a unique twist for example Kill Confirmed (Team Deathmatch) requires you to confirm each kill by picking up an item, while Blitz is similar to a domination mode but only one point is active at a time and once captured gives you points but doesn’t stay under you control. I feel the small modes and maps suits the game as it means you can fully learn the intricacies of each map and game modes and become good at them. However I still want more modes added to the game and a Goldrush style mode would be great.

You can use Blutes to upgrade weapons and unlock new upgrades.

For a free-to-play shooter you would be right to think the community would be horrendous but Loadout has a big active community who seem very friendly. There hasn’t been any microphone spam (I think you can use them) or rudeness and bad sportsmanship. People might not talk much but I rather have that then people moaning and complaining at each other. I feel because the game offers the ability to play against bots and still gain experience and level up means that you could just play with your friends and still have the full Loadout experience. The game offers the flexibility and therefore means you aren’t forced to play with a bunch of kids. This is supported further while in a match as players are rewarded for healing (you can heal and do damage) and killing which means you can just run around being a medic if you so desire.

My healing “SpunkaTron” is a game changer.

The supposed big selling point of the game is the character and weapon customisation. This is kind of true while the customisation is quite deep for a free-to-play game most character customisation requires you to pay real money for (Spacebux) while weapon customisation are acquired through gameplay but is superficially deep. The game features three main characters who you can customise: Axl (Rambo), T-Bone (Mr T) and Helga (red neck/German I have no clue). They all have unique clothing and styles which can be paid for. They don’t add anything to the game and features some pretty grotesque stuff such as nipple clips and allows you run around completely naked with pixelated private areas. The weapon customisation is pretty shallow but still allows you to do some interesting things such as make a laser gun like my “CockaSpaniel” or healing laser gun like my “SpunkaTron”. You can change many aspects of your guns from its barrels, sights, bullet type, how it shoots and more. If you want to make a sniper rocket launcher that shoots healing bombs you can.

You can spend real money to get Spacebuxs but the exchange rate is terrible.

I would say most people should at least try Loadout as I was pleasantly surprised and I am enjoying it a lot but now I come to the main problem with the game; its pricing. It’s a free-to-play game but its cosmetic items are way overpriced, for example you can buy and show Axl or T-Bones manhood by spending more than £30.00, that’s how much most games cost so having to spend more than £30.00 for a some pixelated polygons is ridiculous. If you could spend £30.00 and unlock all the cosmetics, buy clothing packs or better still they reduced the pricing would be better for everyone. For example if five people buy the pixelated trumpet then the developers would make £150 but if they sold it for £2 and sold seventy-five then they would make the same amount of money. Seventy Five is a higher number but the price is cheaper so more are likely to spend money. Bottom line Edge of Reality should lower all their cosmetic prices because to buy everything in the store at the moment goes into the hundreds and like Warframe is insane and stupid. The prices are a turn off for anyone who is sane. The other things you can buy are experience and brute boosts while these are welcomed they are also too overpriced. A thirty-day experience boosts cost the same as a MMORPG subscription while a thirty-day experience and brute boost together costs even more.

Thirty pounds plus for a pixel sausage better mean its the best tasting one ever.
You may choose a box every day like every free-to-play game but rewards are poor.

Overall Loadout is a well made and fun game that requires no upfront financial investment from the player and most people will be able to play it. The vulgar aspects of the game are small and do more damage to its image than set a stylistic choice. I don’t know if I should applaud Edge of Reality for making a good game that is enjoyable to play and requires the player to spend no money or be concerned that they made a good game that makes the player have no desire to spend money on it. If Edge of Reality can add more modes, maps and reduce their pricing then Loadout could become a genre classic.