By: Casey Curran
Even though I am only 22, modern free-to-play games make me feel old. I remember playing choppy ports of old Atari and, if I was lucky, NES games on my computer and being happy with that. Nowadays, there are full 3D shooters and RPGs with excellent connection quality that you can play for free. Loadout is the latest free-to-play shooter, and it seems to be looking to be the next Team Fortress 2.
Loadout definitely lacks the polish of a triple-A shooter without quite feeling cheap. Anyone that has played a third-person shooter on PC will be very comfortable with this game, as its layout is standard for shooters. Where it differentiates itself is in how it focuses more on a run-and-gun feel than other shooters; similar to Team Fortress 2 or older shooters like Quake Arena. The game also has a much larger difference in your reticule depending on if you are aiming down the sight or not.
Visually, Loadout’s style is very heavily influenced by Team Fortress 2. It looks a lot like the game, from the colorful yet visceral artwork to the sound effects that ooze cartoon violence. While the art style is not original, it is different from most other games out there, which make everything pop out really well. There are also a few very cool extra effects like chunks of your body going missing if you take too many shots.
I did have to take just a little off its score because of how character customization works. Like most free-to-play games it employs a variety of different costumes for your character to buy. Without these, there’s not much to pick from, but they are very expensive for a cosmetic change. It ends up feeling lacking while not providing enough incentive to add more variety.
If you are a fan of the old school kinds of shooters, Loadout is for you. The game is set up to have a very run-and-gun style that feels decidedly old school. The game offers a wide reticule to enforce this mentality, as constant moving while keeping someone generally in your range is the best way to take someone out in close quarters. This also makes the zoom even more valuable as it greatly increases your accuracy.
Where the game separates itself is through the different ways to customize your loadout. The game offers all kinds of ways to create new weapons, from a medic gun that heals allies to creating your own sniper rifle. The game smartly does not force a pay-to-win model with these, however, as they are unlocked by getting experience through doing well in the game. These do take a little too long to unlock, which made getting new equipment not quite as compelling as it could have been.
My main issue stems from the balancing. There were a few too many times I played where the teams were uneven, both in and against my team’s favor. This made matches a little too boring, especially when the teams had an uneven number of players, causing the game to devolve into hide and seek with guns. It’s not enough to ruin the game, but it was noticeable. The arenas were also a little too basic — nothing bad, but none of them really stood out to me.
If you are in the mood for a solid multiplayer game, there’s no reason not to try Loadout. It’s not a perfect shooter, but the price is right and it’s a nice little callback to older shooters. If you find yourself wishing for something more like Team Fortress or Quake than Call of Duty, check it out.