… what? Can’t do a bunch of articles about customizing playstyles without mentioning a game that lets you build your own guns.
For those severely out of the loop about this game, Loadout is a game where you build your own guns. Aside from that, it features nudity, extreme amounts of gore, crass schoolboy humour, and nudity. It is also completely dead on PC and can only be played on PS4 although it first launched on PC. And I will forever remember the day where the PC servers are shut down with plenty of tears. And bitterness.
My own feelings aside, Loadout has one of the most unique weapon systems I’ve seen to date. I already mentioned it twice so far, but I’ll repeat it again: you build your own guns.
In Loadout’s weaponcrafting system, you build your guns to your fancy, limited by the resources you have available (the Blutes) and the choices you were given by the game.
There are four main types of chassis available, which determines what leaves your gun barrel and hopefully burrows itself into the enemies’ heads. The Rifle type shoots bullets, Launchers shoot explosives, Pulse shoots energy balls at people and Beams shoot … beams. Aside from that, there are also five payload types. Slug shoots high damage shots on direct hits, and is the standard hard-hitting-nothing-fancy type of payload. Tesla causes your shots to deal arcing damage to nearby enemies even if you didn’t hit them. Pyro sets people on fire, much like that mute thing in TF2 with the same name. Health heals whoever you hit that’s on your team and The Juice gives them speed boosts, extra jump height, faster reload, and a damage buff. There was a sixth payload that was supposed to be released called Cryo, but nothing is known about it except for the fact that it freezes things.
But customization isn’t just limited to that. Say, if I want a new barrel for a Rifle type chassis, I have a choice between Sniper, Scatter (shotguns basically), Gatling, Assault and others. And if I pick an Assault type barrel, I can choose between semi-auto firing, burst shots or more, depending on my choice of triggers. If I went with a Pulse chassis, I can pick how my shots behave, whether it bounces off surfaces or cockscrews through the air. There are a lot of customization options available for the guns, and some are available specifically for some chassis types. For example, Cooling is a customization type specifically for Beam weapons, as they do not require ammo and clips but overheats after continuous firing.
After you build your guns, before you spend any Blutes on buying the new parts you need, you can actually test it out in a firing range (that handy “Test” button at the bottom right) before confirming your choice.
This is a very neat feature that I quite like. Since building a new gun requires resources, it is nice for the game to let us test out our guns before actually committing to it. Paladins require resources to build a card loadout, and I wish we can have a similar system to test it out. Nothing wrong with Paladin’s current training mode, but if I want to test out a new loadout I rather not pay for it before being able to test it. Also, being able to switch easily between testing and loadout/weapon crafting mode with one button is rather handy. Much better than needing to traverse across menus to do so.
Now come the part about this game that I hate the most. The Tech Tree is where you buy the parts you need for building your guns. It is also where you can upgrade weapon parts that you have with XP you earn at the end of each match.
First up, I really dislike the aspect where you need to unlock a branch before being able to buy what is on it. I do not see why I need to unlock Tri-Barrel before getting Quad-Barrel when I can just have all choices available for direct purchase from the get-go. The only reason why this is a thing is either because of them trying to make a progression system at the cost of gameplay or they just want to drain more of your resources buying things you don’t need so you need to grind extra to get what you do need. And it is just so handy that they also sell Boosts for actual cash that increase the amount of resources you earn per match, whether it be Blutes or XP.
Secondly, I hate how the game is directly rewarding you just for playing longer. In Paladins and TF2, whatever I earn, whether it be weapon drops or cards, are useless unless I put in the effort to learn how to use them, build a suitable loadout with it, and know when to use it. And no matter how much or how little I use it, my Direct Hit is equally lethal as everyone else’s, and my Resonance is just as powerful as anyone’s. I do not appreciate the idea of having more power just by playing longer with no understanding or finesse required. Why waste time trying to learn the game when you can just upgrade your gun by running around and shooting blindly like an idiot? As long as I play long enough, I can upgrade all my weapon parts so that I can compensate for my incompetence with statistically superior guns.
The reason why the latter is an issue is because it causes players to force themselves to play frequently to maintain an advantage, or pay money for a Boost. It automatically creates a hostile environment for new players by telling them to either not have any fun or pay up. Even if the actual effect is small, its presence alone would’ve been rather repulsive for some. I’m definitely biased in that regard since its presence irritates me to no end. In fact, part of the reason why I took a long break from Loadout back then is because I felt that I was falling behind after missing a week of play. I doubt most people will be like me in that aspect though.
Lastly, there’s Equipment. For each weapon loadout slot, you get two gun slots and one equipment slot. You unlock new equipment in the tech tree with Blutes. Personally, I really didn’t pay much attention to them when I’m focused on building bigger and better guns.
When all is said and done, I really like Loadout’s gun building system. It was unique, interesting, and is definitely something I wish more games adopt. But the more I think about it, the more I despise the business model Edge of Reality went with. I am only supposed to be talking about gameplay, but when the business model actively hinders gameplay, it needs to be addressed as part of it. Shame, I really loved the weaponcrafting aspect. And it really sucks that the game is now gone from PC.