Loadout is perhaps the most over-the-top puerile game I’ve ever played. And it’s amazing. It’s not necessarily great, but I truly enjoyed it from the very get-go, and its crude charm wins a lot of points when combined with a surprisingly good community and solid objective-based gameplay.Most of my time in Loadout, I was enjoying PvB matches (player versus bots; I hate the term “PvE” for symmetrical combat). It wasn’t that the competitive multiplayer was bad, but I enjoyed the cooperative aspect more, especially since occasionally I got stuck in matches with some pretty poor performing players who wouldn’t present much of a challenge. It’s got a surprising amount of depth for its game-modes, and I’m not sure if they lucked into having some really solid objective-based play or if they were really careful with it, but if Loadout continues growing with content similar in quality to what it has already, It’ll be great some day.
The community, surprisingly enough, was a cut above the standard F2P crowd; I never had any overtly trolling or vitriolic players in any of my matches, and while the competence of some of my teammates (and myself at times) was dubious, the game maintained a fun atmosphere of competition or cooperation that didn’t devolve into the usual “YOUR MOTHER!” that most other online FPS experiences I’ve had came into, even without the benefits of clan matches or, for most of my time playing, a working party system.
Weaponcrafting and the tech tree is where Loadout stands out from other shooters. Unlike Borderland’s severely eclectic and often under-performing guns, being able to hand-craft guns means that each weapon feels custom-made and useful, while there were enough gimmicks and fun parts to keep the weapons feeling incredibly different and useful; I mostly used launchers when I played, and it didn’t take me long to upgrade one of my launcher configurations into a healing flak grenade launcher that was very useful for my team.
Objective-based play really brought the games together. It could be frustrating with newbies or particularly incompetent team-mates, but the ability to work together as a team meant that skill is highly rewarded, as medics get a chance to really help the team and allow good tactics to win over good marksmanship. As an average at best twitch-shooter, I found this to be very helpful.
My main gripe with Loadout is that it feels incredibly frenetic in some matches, and really quiet in others-I played an entire game of Extraction as the collector without getting a single scratch or enemy encounter (in part thanks to my amazing team that round), while in other rounds my foes barely let me respawn. Bots are not all created equal, either; some weapon configurations are much more deadly, and while this adds a little spice to a match it also made my first few rounds incredibly frustrating as I tried to plink away with a stock assault rifle without really doing any significant damage.
Small teams are another interesting design decision; the maps in Loadout are actually pretty spacious, and most of the game modes could be adapted to be player-flexible, and the lack of people can make some of the PvP objective matches almost boring if you’re the only one who cares about the objectives. On the other hand, Loadout is not afraid to make players die often, and having more players could compromise spawn points and lead to some frustrated gamers, so it’s not so much a problem as a product of a game in which none of the maps are explicitly meant for team play, even though almost every game mode is.
The cartoony graphics really give Loadout flavor; it’s got pretty special effects and lots of over-the-top action, both in vulgar and action-packed forms. While it’s not exactly the most original, with games like Team Fortress 2 and Firefall already using cartoon-style graphics to great effect, it’s very functional and it helps the action feel really frenetic when bullets and bombs are careening through the air.
In the cooperative play there is a king of the hill, collection, and “death snatch” (akin to Kill Confirmed from Blacklight Retribution) mode; there’s also a capture-the-flag variant called Jackhammer in PvP, with a suitably lethal hammer as the flag. Another mode has flickered in and out of existence, but I’ve never had a chance to play it.
In short, Loadout is a rather fun free-to-play shooter, and it’s got something for everyone. Just be you can deal with its puerile and vulgar exterior; it’s definitely not one for the kiddies, both with its over-the-top violence and its general obscenity.