|Dev: Edge of Reality|
|Pub: Edge of Reality|
|Release: Summer 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
When it comes to first-person shooters, I've always liked the classic arcade style rather than the modern military style. I am more of a Team Fortress 2 fan than a Call of Duty fan, so to speak. That's why I would rate Loadout, a new indie shooter by Edge of Reality, as one of the best games I got to play at PAX East. Loadout takes all of the classic arcade-style FPS elements that we love from games like Team Fortress 2 and Monday Night Combat and mixes those with a level of customizability that is beyond anything we have seen in any shooter before.
Loadout's main focus is, appropriately enough, your loadout. Instead of giving you a set class with a static set of abilities like Team Fortress, Loadout asks you to make everything from scratch. In the PAX demo, we were only able to customize our guns, but the developers said that they would be looking into customizing player abilities, health, grenades, assist buildings like turrets, and much more. But for now, the only thing they had implemented was one character and the gun customization system, and this alone provided me with more options than any other shooter has ever given me before.
You see, Loadout doesn't just ask you to choose a gun. It asks you to create one. You can customize just about everything from your guns stock, trigger, barrel, clip, and sights to the specific properties of your ammo. There are tons of categories to tweak, and each category has plenty of options. You can even make ammo that heals your teammates.
It's really hard to explain without giving you an example, so I'll describe the first gun I ever made to you. First, I decided that I was going to make a shotgun, because they only had gamepads at the booth, and without a keyboard and mouse interface I can't hit the broad side of a barn. So I chose a barrel and firing type that gave me a wide spread and quick rate of fire. I decided I wasn't going to be using any scope and scoffed at the ability to ADS, instead deciding to reduce the size of my clip to make my ammo more powerful. I also chose a stock that reduced the accuracy of my gun while giving it an extra power boost. It was at this point that I noticed the "damage" bar on my gun's stats getting dangerously close to max, and so I set out to make the most ludicrously damaging gun possible. I decided to go with "fire" ammo for the damage over time, and made my bullets incredibly large. They fired in a circle formation, and, just for the kick of it, I made them travel in a corkscrew pattern. The result was a gun that fired nine miniature spiraling suns at the opponent in a wall of horrible flame. It was hard to aim and the projectiles traveled slowly, but one shot was instant death. That's when I realized I had essentially created a combination of the Plasma and Wave beams from Metroid.
My opponents' guns were similarly crazy. One opponent created a damage-over-time laser that fired clean across the map. Another created a gun the fired five rockets that bounced and split into five smaller rockets each. One of my allies created an assault rifle that fired tiny exploding pellets that stuck to walls. There were electric guns that arced damage from one opponent to another, healing guns that fired showers of healing rays, and other ludicrous weapons that only could have been made by a bunch of convention goers that were running on three hours of sleep and a diet of nothing more than booze and beef jerky.
With only the limited options in this alpha build, we were able to make tens of thousands of guns, each operating differently and totally changing our playstyle. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The developers told me a little about the development process, saying it was largely a matter of someone getting an idea for a cool gun on a whim and just putting the parts into their gun creation system. They are toying around with other things like map creation and grenade creation as well, but even if we are only allowed to toy with the gun customization system when the game comes out this summer, it will still be one of the most innovative shooters on the market.
The game knows its audience too. It's very cartoony, in a good way. Body parts splatter all over the place when you get blown up in a style reminiscent of Team Fortress 2. Wounds bleed when you are shot full of bullets, but blood in this game has the consistency of red pudding and is never graphic enough to gross you out. Heck, you can get damaged so badly only your eyes and brain are visible atop your head, and it still has a childlike cartoonish feel to it.
Loadout gave me something no other FPS has given me before: a sense of creativity. The gun I made was my gun. The playstyle was my playstyle. Amongst the thousands of trigger-happy PAX attendees, I was the only one who made the corkscrew, flaming-sun, Metroid-throwback shotgun. I returned to the booth later to find out that the booth literally went through thousands of matches, and no one had a gun even remotely similar to my own. This was using nothing more than the alpha build of the game that had a seriously limited selection of parts to choose from. If a build this limited can make me take pride in the flaming death I rained down upon my enemies, imagine what the full game can do. So keep your eye out for Loadout when it releases this summer. Its emphasis on customizability is more than enough to compete with big boys like Team Fortress 2, and it might even win out in the end.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: May 2, 2012