I have no qualms about free-to-play games. I am immediately wary of free-to-play games that are supported by micro-transactions, however. When the appointment for Loadout was pitched to me during my PAX planning period, I flat out said, “You do not want me covering a micro-transaction supported free-to-play game. I will not be kind.” I was guilted (like a boss) into taking the appointment, and I’m glad that I am such a compassionate and caring friend, because I actually quite enjoyed my time with Edge of Reality’s upcoming team shooter.
As I said, I was initially skeptical. I dislike the concept of micro-transactions providing players with a way of jumping forward in progress without actually working for it or earning it. I’d rather pay for the game and know that everyone is on the same playing field than play a free game where people can buy their way ahead. Loadout has managed to straddle that line in a way that I can get behind, but I am still somewhat worried about how balanced the game will be. Let me explain.
No, there is no time. Let me sum up.
Loadout is a free-to-play team shooter that is fully functional without ever making a single micro-transaction purchase. Everything that can be purchased is randomly unlockable as you progress and play the game. These purchasable random unlockables are component pieces of your weapons (the game is currently capable of over 1.6 million mathematical unique combinations of components for custom weapons). A person who plays for a long time may end up getting useless random unlocks that don’t fit his or her playing style, while another play can simply purchase all of the upgrades he or she wants to play with and find himself or herself fully equipped for optimized battle against the unlucky unlockers. The saving grace, however, is that aforementioned fact that everything purchasable is unlockable without any monetary investment. If it had been otherwise, this would be a very different kind of write-up.
To be clear, I have no problem with micro-transactions that do not restrict content from players; I hope people put money into this game through micro-transactions if they choose to de-randomize their materials.
That being said, the game is actually incredibly fun, and the loadout system for weapon customization is very dynamic and versatile. Where a hardcore RPG player can spend hours upon hours in character creation, so too can a shooter player spend hours and hours in weapon customization in Loadout. There are 11 different customization factors in your weapon: Shell, Dispersal, Payload, Detonator, Propulsion, Barrel, Scope, Magazine, Chassis, Trigger, and Stock. During my playthrough, I created a rocket propelled, Tesla charged, flak spread launcher that cut through the other team like butter.
The game has various modes, including Extraction, Shoot ‘n Snatch, Slaughter, Jack Hammer, and Blitz. These game modes (and the game’s various maps) range from 3v3 to 6v6 gameplay. It is currently in closed beta, which will continue to expand in size until the game is simply available and no longer in beta (similar to Google’s beta approach to Gmail, etc.). I was incredibly skeptical of this title before I had a chance to actually see it and talk to the developers, but now it’s yet another indie game that I find myself eagerly anticipating.