The shooter genre, whether first- or third-person, is something that has become over-saturated and samey over the years. With each new year, there is a new set of of Call of Duty games and a new attempt to shock by this or that innocent thing, and a new Battlefield with server issues aplenty. In a genre like this, standing out is not something that happens often. “More of the same” is the cry of the masses and game companies are more than happy to oblige. When a game comes along that can break away from this generic attitude and really shine, it is a rare thing indeed. Loadout is a game that manages to do this, and does so with a smile on its face and a middle finger to the competition. Best of all, it manages to outshine the competition while being free to play.
Loadout is a third person shooter game that has been released on Microsoft computer systems. The thing that sets it apart from other games in this genre is simple: customization. First and foremost, with the guns that are available. There are no generic AK-47s or World War II era rifles, every gun is up to the player to build however they would like. The amount of freedom and choices is amazing. Choose between Rifle, Launcher, and many more options as the base, decide whether the gun should heal or damage, decide what kind of damage the gun will be able to do (fire, electrical, straight up explosive, the list goes on) right down to the stock and sight of the gun, everything is in the control of the player.
If the imagination of the player demands a rocket launcher that can fire six rockets in a helix pattern that stick to the opponent and explode with a timed detonator, then the option is available. It is a rare sight indeed to fire rockets at team mates and have them be healed or buffed because of it. Beyond the gun customization, there is also a plethora of costume and taunt options, allowing players to take the three available character models and outfit them however they should desire. The combat itself handles quite smoothly, with enough game types and maps to keep even the most hardcore shooter fan busy for a while. All of this is offered for free! There is currency that can be bought for the game, but the only thing it is used for is costumes for the characters and taunts. The taunts themselves are pretty hilarious, and well worth a couple of dollars should someone decide that they want them, but any of the customizations to guns and stats are purchased with a currency called blutes, which can only be obtained by playing the game.
The graphics are quite nice for a game that is free to play, with visceral damage showing up on players as they take hits, limbs being lost left and right. One moment a character may be standing on a point and capturing it, and the next their brain might be visible as their tongue flaps around. When a character is burnt to a crisp, the burns show. As a player is healed, the damage too fades. All of this is done in a bit of a cartoon like style to keep it from being too realistic and messy, but it is still rather entertaining to be running along with a massive hole through the chest cavity.
If there were any issue at all to be found with the game upon launch, it is odd server issues. The friend’s list went offline a few times, and if a player leaves a game, they cannot join another game until the one they were in finishes. However, if the spot that the player had in the match is filled by another player, then the option to join does not work, and they are forced to wait for the end of the math anyway. Be wary of losing connection in the middle of a match or leaving prematurely to avoid this kind of issue. In the face of everything else, these issues are a small thing. The gameplay is smooth and satisfying, the graphics are amusing and messy, and the customization should keep people busy for days, with more options opening up for customization after more time invested in the game, encouraging players to keep coming back for more.
All in all, this is a new game that is massive amounts of fun, and best of all, it is available on Steam for free. There is a package that can be purchased for 20 dollars that gives players a huge pile of the in game currency to outfit their character however in whatever way is desired. There is really no excuse not to try it out if players are looking for a new shooter that steps away from the traditional format that is so common in this day and age. So get out there, get a tea-bagging taunt and start putting holes in people! The action is something to be enjoyed greatly, even more-so if accompanied by friends. Make a few and let the carnage begin!