GDC 2013: The free-to-play ‘Loadout’ is worth every penny (and quite a few more)

Loadout GDC

A multiplayer-focused shooter needs to do something that makes it stand out. Austin-based developer Edge of Reality understands this, and has spent much of the past two years spit-shining the free-to-play Loadout for an audience that isn’t easily dazzled. It shows, as we learned from a sitdown with the free-to-play third-person shooter at the 2013 Game Developer’s Conference.

The principal hook in Loadout that promises to keep players coming back is an insanely elaborate weapon crafting system. Starting with a basic chassis that determines the overall makeup of the thing, players cobble together killing tools of their own out of a basic set of parts. You can then equip your creations in a loadout and carry them into battle.

It all starts with a chassis, which determines the basic “type” of firearm you’re working with. Will you fire bullets or rockets? Sustained beams or energy pulses? The chassis that you settle on determines what other components you can tweak, such as the stock, sights, trigger, barrel, or projectile type.

Each choice confers different effects and there’s a neat “Test” option that allows you to try out your creation in a live-fire environment before finishing it off. The whole interface feels a bit like Ghost Recon: Future Soldier‘s Gunsmith customization menu, only you’ve got a much wider range of options to work with in Loadout. A similarly elaboration customization menu allows for cosmetic alterations to your character, covering everything from clothing and accessories to taunts.

Loadout GDC 2

The slickness of the customization interface carries over into the game as well. Loadout‘s third person action seems to take a page of inspiration from Team Fortress 2, particularly in the exaggeratedly beefy avatars that you trot into battle. The environments are similarly colorful, avoiding the drab military browns and greens that you’d typically expect to see in a multiplayer shooter

What really stands out about Loadout, however, is the overall presentation. Edge of Reality built a nasty little engine for this game from scratch and everything you see drips with quality and fresh ideas. Take Jackhammer, the game’s capture the flag mode. Two teams compete to grab the enemy’s flag and carry it back to home base, same as it ever was, though flag-holders enjoy an added bonus: the “flag” is actually an electrically charged hammer (think Halo‘s gravity hammer). The more kills you can score with the it, the higher your team’s point reward is when you get the flag to your base.

Even small details stand out. Characters take visible damage as you wound them, depending on the weapon you’re wielding. Bullets will carve bits and pieces of skin off of exposed extremities, leaving muscle and even bone fully exposed. This works in reverse as well, with support tools – be they health pick-ups or custom-designed healing “weapons” – visibly patching up the damage.

Loadout is one of those top-quality F2P offerings that we’ve been seeing more and more of lately. We’ll be participating in the beta – which should be opening up wider very soon – and bringing additional insights in the near future. This is definitely one you’ll want to watch for though.

Emerging Tech

Space tourism: Latest New Shepard mission shows how its ride might look

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin rocket company is aiming to launch a space tourism service, and on Wednesday its latest successful test mission gave us a look at how one of those thrilling 10-minute rides might look.

Everything we know about 'Red Dead Online', including the new mode Gun Rush

Red Dead Online will gradually rolled out to Red Dead Redemption 2 players via a beta. We've got all the details about the beta's suite of competitive and cooperative modes, as well as what to expect going forward.

The Asus ZenBook 13 offers more value and performance than Apple's MacBook Air

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 is the latest in that company's excellent "budget" laptop line, and it looks and feels better than ever. How does it compare to Apple's latest MacBook Air?
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.

Overkill’s ‘The Walking Dead’ delayed indefinitely for PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Overkill's The Walking Dead for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have been postponed without a new release date. The co-op zombie shooter suffered massive delays, then received lukewarm reviews once it launched for the PC through Steam.

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Product Review

‘Resident Evil 2' is a terrifying new virus you'll want to catch

Resident Evil 2 brings the Raccoon City incident to a new generation of players, acting both as a nostalgic throwback and a thoroughly modern horror game with some of the best visuals of the generation.

How you can give your PS4 a fresh start with a factory reset

Learn the many ways you can factory reset your PS4. From reverting your settings to factory to doing a full wipe and reinstalling the latest PlayStation firmware, we cover it all here, step by step.

Can't stand keyboard gaming on PC? Here's how to use a PS3 controller instead

Properly connecting a PlayStation 3 Controller to a PC is no easy task, especially when you opt for third-party peripherals. Thankfully, our guide will help you through the process.

‘Fortnite’ update makes you the most dangerous snowman ever

The latest content update for Epic Games' Fortnite adds the Sneaky Snowman item, turning players into stealthy masters of disguise. The update also changes the Sniper Shootout game mode.

Having issues with your PS4? Check out our solutions to its most common problems

Just because the PlayStation 4 is a remarkable system doesn't mean that it's immune to the occasional hiccup. Thankfully, we've vetted some of the bigger PS4 problems and found solutions for whatever might ail you.

‘Resident Evil 2’ will get free mode called ‘The Ghost Survivors’

Resident Evil 2 will be getting a free post-launch DLC mode which will feature characters not playable in the game's main campaign. No release date has been given for the new mode.

These Xbox One exclusives are the definition of quality over quantity

Xbox One has a prestigious collection of handpicked titles that you can't play on other consoles. Here are the latest and greatest Xbox One exclusives, including some that are also available on PC
Product Review

The Digital Storm Aventum X is an unstoppable gaming PC. Trust us, we tried

Packed with dual-Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics card and a 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, the Aventum X is an infinitely upgradeable gaming PC that’s capable of far more performance than you’ll ever need.