Review

Loadout Review

  • Game release: January 31, 2014
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

Create and decimate.

by

My first moments of Loadout could not have been more perfect. Entering a match, I found myself in a circle of players, made up of allies and opponents alike, staring each other down. As a disembodied voice began a five-second countdown, I quickly pieced together what would happen after it reached zero. The gruff, barbaric-looking horde that surrounded me equipped their preferred weapons, and as the timer stopped, there was a split second of deafening silence before the scene erupted in neon lasers, explosions, and showering viscera. This, in a nutshell, is Loadout at its finest, a game of occasional humor, immense violence, and things that go bang.

Loadout is a multiplayer third-person shooter that blends humor and comical, grotesque violence with a cartoony visual style comparative to Team Fortress 2 or Super Monday Night Combat, complete with vibrant graphics and character models with exaggerated features. But calling Loadout a clone sells it short. The game differs from its popular kin with new takes on classic game modes, and it eschews classes and focuses on what makes shooters so enthralling in the first place: the guns. Loadout features a deep weapon-crafting system where modular components are placed, swapped, or upgraded to create powerful firearms. Though the game lacks conventional classes, it lets you craft your own custom loadouts as you desire.

The style is clean and cartoonish, starring characters with large features.

You can strap a sniper barrel and scope to a rifle chassis to create a sniper rifle, and perhaps upgrade the weapon later with a bolt-action magazine. Attaching a scatter barrel to the chassis along with a shell-loading magazine produces a powerful shotgun. Changing a weapon's payload further deepens customization options. The pyro payload sets enemies on fire, while tesla shocks enemies with electricity that arcs to nearby foes as chain lightning. Swapping the weapon's payload to health allows you to heal your allies and give them a health boost, if you feel that the medical field is more your calling.

The first weapon I crafted was a rocket launcher I dubbed Fallout, because I'm clever. I found myself growing rather fond of Fallout, and over time I upgraded to a pyro payload, and later attached a quad-barrel to fire four cluster-bomb rockets. The crafting is enthralling, and what started as a vanilla rocket launcher evolved as time went by, built from the ground up as my lovingly crafted personal weapon of mass destruction.

Purchase clothing items and taunts from the in-game store.

Sticking with a weapon build improves it over time. As you take your chosen weapon into battle, experience points are gained for each particular part that makes up the gun--for example, the selected gun sight, barrel, trigger, and ammo type. With enough experience points, you can purchase weapon component upgrades in Loadout's tech tree. Upgrades escalate the overall effectiveness of the components, such as increasing damage and improving reload times. The tech tree is used to unlock new components for weapons, as well as equipment, including grenade types, a shield, a turret drop, and a disguise option, which lets you play spy.

Finishing a match awards you with experience points and in-game currency called blutes, which are exchanged for new weapon parts and upgrades. Loadout is a free-to-play game, which means real-world money is involved somewhere. Luckily, the game doesn't charge for weapon parts or upgrades, but it does charge for vanity items like clothing and taunts. There are plenty of items to buy, including masks, glasses, hats, shirts, bling, and much more. Accessories are also unlocked via Daily Prize rewards, which give you a choice among three chests that contain either a small sum of blutes or a clothing item. You have to pay for more weapon and loadout slots beyond those available, but smart item management eliminates the need for them.

Despite its colorful design, Loadout is exceptionally violent. Bullets rip through flesh, degloving limbs and pounding gaping holes into torsos where bones and internal organs are clearly visible. Fire scorches flesh black, ultimately leaving a nearly skinless husk. Shots to the head have a delightful effect, removing most of the head and leaving the brain and bobbling eyes exposed. Viciously taunting your opponents is actively encouraged and often hilarious. You are granted four slots for taunts that, when activated, send your character into a stylized dance paired with an entertaining tune.

Loadout includes a deep weapon-crafting system.

There are many taunts available in the in-game store, including an '80s dance number, a golf clap, and the invisible horse of Gangnam Style, if you feel it's relevant enough (it isn't). The violence and vulgarity can be turned off in the options menu, but I feel that would remove a large part of the game's personality. Of course, leaving that box unchecked does run you the risk of seeing a character with blurred genitals twerk in the middle of an arena, but that goes with the territory in Loadout.

The game's available characters are large and boorish, yet display uncanny agility in combat. Double-tapping a movement key sends your character leaping in that direction. Jumping immediately after the leap sends you into a super jump, capable of catapulting you over tall obstacles in the environment. The ease with which you maneuver inspires energetic acrobatic performances, where players fire over their shoulders while flying from flat ground to a high-rising platform and back again. The battles are exciting, and when multiple players enter the fray, things heat up, putting your skills and environmental awareness to the test.

Loadout is a team-focused game that features familiar game modes, some with a welcome twist. Team deathmatch, for example, is called Death Snatch, and plays out somewhat differently than what you expect. In Death Snatch, killing your opponent doesn't add points to the board. Instead, when enemy players are killed, they leave a vial of glowing blutonium that must be collected for points, and the team that gathers the most vials wins. The mode bears more than a little resemblance to Modern Warfare 3's Kill Confirmed mode, where players earn a kill only after successfully executing an opponent.

In Blitz, opposing teams rush toward specified control points as they come into play at various locations around the map. The goal is to raise a pair of boxer short to the top of a flagpole while fending off attacks from the opposing team. Among all the modes, I found Blitz to be the most brutal. The fight for a single point gets violently chaotic: a brief moment of calm is suddenly interrupted by incoming grenades, rockets, or other gunfire. The fight for a single point may last minutes as the tug-of-war between opposing factions continues. Some matches I've played have had only a few captures due to the length of time it took to acquire each one.

The hammer in Jackhammer can be used as a weapon.

My favorite game mode, however, is Loadout's variation on classic capture the flag. It is called Jackhammer, and the object is to steal your opponent's hammer and carry it back to your team's base. The enormous red hammer can be used as a weapon, quickly turning enemies who foolishly challenge you into a cloud of discharged electricity and red mist. In typical CTF matches, a capture is awarded by a single digit. But in Jackhammer, you gain a large number of points, and killing enemies with the hammer grants a higher score after the capture. Getting even one kill with the hammer may mean the difference between victory and defeat, which means the hammer carrier must either decide on a quick capture or take the risk for a higher score advantage.

The maps in Loadout are not particularly well designed. Most lack memorable landmarks, making pathfinding a confusing ordeal. The game often chooses maps ill-suited to the selected game mode. Playing Jackhammer on Shattered is straight and to the point: your team spawns on one end, while the enemy is on the far opposite end. But in modes such as Death Snatch, where you are dropped on the enormous map, which covered in high ridges and large obstacles, finding your way around is a hassle.

Loadout is a game of occasional humor, immense violence, and things that go bang.

Since its launch, Loadout has suffered from unrelenting issues with capricious servers. I began playing Loadout soon after it entered the market, and since then I have downloaded many patches and hotfixes as the developer has been hard at work to keep the game stable. The efforts seem to be bearing fruit. I've encountered the dreaded server crash only once since I started playing, and it occurred eight hours into my play time; things were up and running again minutes later.

Server lag did rear its head, but it was rare, which is good news. The bad news, on the other hand, is that due to the game's prior instability, the developer has temporarily shut down the so-called Competitive Mode, where a game type called Annihilation resides. Another issue is something that didn't strike me until some hours in. At first, I felt overwhelmed by the customization options, from weaponry to character creation. However, in this, the game's pivotal selling feature, there is still vast room for expansion.

Work as a team to complete objectives.

There is an unfortunate lack of weapon skins, with the default military green as the only option. Character creation is another area that needs attention. Currently, there are only three character models to choose from. While you can customize the characters if you desire a unique look, doing so takes either a lot of time, with clothing items coming in slowly from Daily Prize chests, or real-world money. But not all players are willing to shell out actual currency so their character can sport gangster pants or a mullet. Thankfully, the developer has recently revealed plans for weapon skins, as well as new character models. The release time for either, however, is still anyone's guess.

Loadout stands out against other shooters with its humor, entertaining multiplayer modes, and addictive weapon-crafting system. I imagine that the game may experience a life cycle not unlike my trusty rocket launcher. It's crude and blunt, and its name may not turn many heads, but underneath its blood-soaked surface lies immense potential. It is also free-to-play, so there's no reason not to leap in and bask in the chaotic frenzy with your personally crafted weapon in hand.

The Good
Deep and absorbing weapon crafting
Classic game modes are given fresh twists
Humorously, cartoonishly violent
Vibrant visuals
The Bad
Uninteresting map designs make pathfinding difficult
Server issues keep Annihilation mode locked away
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

/ Staff

Cameron Woolsey knows his way around online shooters, but shamelessly spent more time tinkering with and testing new weapons in Loadout than actually using them. For the purposes of this review, Cameron played for about 18 hours, crafting five weapons.

Discussion

30 comments
Kevy1252
Kevy1252

in theory f2p, is a business model and if executed correctly  a business model like f2p could be well implemented but since in real life this model fails miserably. It's normal that when a gamer hears f2p, their skin crawls

DanieltheDead
DanieltheDead

Saying Loadout isn't 'Pay2Win' is a bit misleading, because you can in fact buy Blutes with real money, thus gathering Blutes faster than normal, and then using those Blutes to buy weapon upgrades - provided you have the experience necessary to unlock them.


In addition, you can also purchase XP accelerators with real money, which grant you an increased XP gathering rate for a day, or even a week depending on how much you pay. 

So, you can both level up your character and your firearms faster than normal by using real money, which in turn gives you an advantage over other players.

Some will say that it doesn't have that effect because the game tries to randomly match players in the same level brackets when it generates the games, but the previously outlined process still allows those who are willing to shell out their money a means by which to outrank and out perform those who don't shell out for the Blute and XP upgrades


It's not the most obvious way of implementing Pay2Win, but it is there, which is pretty disappointing and rather dishonest on the part of the developer.

Unholy123
Unholy123

While I respect their 'current' attitude towards not being Pay2Win I'm curious to see how long that lasts.

I found the game to be a tedious Third Person Back cam (the worst kind of shooter nothing worse then a 360 back ghost cam IMO) Quake clone with a TF2 skin.

It's rocket spamming and bunny hopping about, but hey if that's your kind of shooter then its probably right up your alley though personally I got tired of that long ago, but to each their own and hey its free so whats it hurt to give it a try and see if you like it.

m4a5
m4a5

I like how it's not pay to win. Only pay for cosmetics...

mr_nee
mr_nee

On my to-do list

Ahiru-San
Ahiru-San

this actually looks fun, I never really give it a go on free-to-play games on Steam, but I'm considering this now...

RIIIIKU
RIIIIKU

....i know that this is a stupid reason......but i deleted the game coz the female character really disgusted me

leikeylosh
leikeylosh

Very detailed review! Great work, Cameron!

arcaias
arcaias

Fun chaotic, sometimes its just what ya' need.

tachsniper
tachsniper

This game is so much fun and reinvigorated in my opinion the competitive shooter genre.

Tiwill44
Tiwill44

Oh, come on. The Annihilation mode being locked is obviously temporary, and I bet you won't even update the review when it gets added. That takes points off the score permanently for no reason.

"Uninteresting map designs make pathfinding difficult" I'm not exactly sure what you mean by that. I'll admit some parts of Drill Cavern can be weird to navigate and it can be frustrating on Blitz mode (capture the point), but all the other maps are fairly intuitive and cool to look at. But, opinions I guess.

I agree about the weapon skins though, I wish we could change the texture of the gun (they all look green), but like you said, the devs said it's coming, with more characters. So I really hope this game will get "second reviews" or whatever they're called, because it seems like the devs are listening to the feedback and plan to improve the game a lot.

Still, a 7 is bit harsh IMO for a truly free to play game as fun as this one.

delta5931
delta5931

I do think the game needs costumes for free, so I can look different. Other than that, the maps are AMAZING and this is easily one my favorite games of 2014, thus far.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

@DanieltheDead  Pay to Win is when you can buy things other players can't get for free. Simply being able to get it faster doesn't make it unfair. Being able to buy boosts for XP or in game currency is a standard for all free games.

Goron24
Goron24

@nicecall  Nah, its way different. Its like TF2 and borderlands had a baby and stuck a camera behind it to watch it shoot things.

mr_nee
mr_nee

@Ahiru-San  If you find this fun you should have tried TF2 a long time ago

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@RIIIIKU  

I would say that such a design is a lot more refreshing than the usual svelte yet buxom ladies. ;)

Kevin-V
Kevin-V moderator staff

@Tiwill44  If part of a game doesn't work, it doesn't work. Games don't get free passes because of what is promised for the future. If they did, developers could say whatever they wanted, and we'd just give everything that wasn't finished or functional a 10 because, hey, it'll be working later. 


In any case, games don't start at a 10 and get points marked off. No one would think of every movie starting at, say, four stars, and a half-star comes off for whatever reason. 

Jaxith
Jaxith

@delta5931 Except that costumes are the only thing in the game they can make money off of.  Nothing else is for sale.

DanieltheDead
DanieltheDead

@Toysoldier34 @DanieltheDeadSemantics aside, at the end of the day that option and pay structure still handicaps those who are either unwilling or unable to pay for such a benefit. 

As a result, it eliminates a base mainline for all players to build from, and saying something is excusable simply because it's 'standard' across a genre doesn't excuse it from being dishonest and manipulative, especially when the developer proudly touts it's intention to 'Only charge for cosmetic upgrades'.

On a related note, this problem is further exasperated by Loadout's horrendously broken matching system - I can recall plenty of games in which I was lined up against players who were a dozen levels beyond me if not more, at which point I was summarily annihilated.

edinko
edinko

@Kevin-V @Tiwill44 Hey Kevin I agree with you wholeheartly but you should try to apply this great sounding standards also to overhyped AAA games that are completely broken on launch like Total War: Rome 2 for example.


If a completely broken game like it was gets a high score then lot of people could think that you have double standards for games that are overhyped /AAA/pay you a lot for advertising or whatever.


"If part of a game doesn't work, it doesn't work" should apply also to big publisher games and not only to small studios that cant defend themselves.



Tiwill44
Tiwill44

@Kevin-V Well, I get what you mean, but this is a bit different. The game is entirely free, it's not like people paid money for something that doesn't work.

Tiwill44
Tiwill44

@delta5931 Oh, nice. Honestly I have high hopes for this game, the devs seem real nice. I hope it'll grow into something even more awesome.

DanieltheDead
DanieltheDead

@noirtenshin @DanieltheDeadThe problem with the broken matching system is simply systemic - a side effect that's only exacerbated by the larger issue pertaining to the pay-bonus structure. 

"Pay to win is when you can buy items that effect the gameplay in a way that a non-spending player can't match (or can with some huge amount of time)."

Precisely - rather than reiterating just for the sake of doing so, I'll simply refer you to my initial post.

noirtenshin
noirtenshin

@DanieltheDead  so its not pay to win, its fix ur matching system.
Pay to win is when you can buy items that effect the gameplay in a way that a non-spending player can't match (or can with some huge amount of time).

Xp booster means that you can get faster to a certain level/gain access to more weapons but also (should) put you in a bracket of similarly leveled players (with similarly powerful gear).

If the matching system is broken, that doesn't make the game pay to win by default. When it gets fixed, it should be just fine. Until that, the matching system is broken, not the economy or monetary system of the game.

numbes
numbes

@edinko @Kevin-V @Tiwill44  add bf4 to that list you reviewed it prior to proper multiplayer testing on promises it would function which it clearly didn't six months down the line it still doesn't yet still it has an 8 

mr_nee
mr_nee

@Jaxith so... why do indie games get treated differently than AAA?

Jaxith
Jaxith

@Tiwill44 @Kevin-V A review's integrity does not hinge on the price of entry.  It can be a point of mention, but being free doesn't get a game a free pass.  It's the game itself being critiqued after all.

Loadout More Info

First Release on Jan 31, 2014
  • PC
  • PlayStation 4
Loadout is a new "Free-2-Play" take on fast-paced, multiplayer shooters.
6.8
Average User RatingOut of 36 User Ratings
Please Sign In to rate Loadout
Developed by:
Edge of Reality
Published by:
Edge of Reality
Genres:
Third-Person, Shooter, 3D, Team-Based, Action