I’ve decided to do a new series where I revisit games I used to play. Now that games are a long term commitment for developers, the games I played two years or even 2 months ago can have new content, balance changes or even complete overhauls.
This is so we can talk about what’s different, why it’s different, or why a particular game is in the state it’s in.
For this first entry, I want to see how Loadout is. I played it a bit two years ago, but the loss of Oceanic servers and other issues lead to my letting it go for a while. When I saw the state of the game and the developers at the time, I uninstalled it.
Come to now, and I had long forgotten about the game, and even thought it had been shut down. Well, upon reinstalling it I’ve found the game is actually still going, and according to SteamCharts the game seems to sit around the ~100-300 player count. While this isn’t as healthy as games like Warframe, it means the servers aren’t completely empty…hopefully.
Upon loading I was reminded of all the things I loved about Loadout; the TF2-esque cartoon style, the music, and the focus on weapon customisation are all just perfect.
At the same time, I saw justification for leaving the game when I did; the last balance update was over fifteen months ago. The game has clearly been left to it’s own devices, to only finally be shut down when server costs outweigh the remaining bit of money the game is producing.
As pessimistic as that thought makes me feel, the SteamCharts numbers gave me hope, and I jumped into the Fight queue.
While waiting, I decided to look at the Weaponcrafting sections and saw the sorts of weapons I had created before abandoning the game. These included a big rocket launcher called “Oppressive Mass of Shitlord”, which is awfully brilliant of past me.
After about ten minutes of queuing, I came to the realization nobody seems to be playing Ranked, and I had to abandon playing Annihilation mode. Three minutes into queueing in Casual, I was thrown into a match.
It played exactly how I remember, with all it’s mayhem. My alternative gun to the Oppressive Mass of Shitlord is a healing pulse rifle called “What is it with you and dicks?”, so a lot of my game was spent being a support, because I do enjoy thwarting the enemy team’s efforts to eliminate us, but even as a support the game felt action packed and exciting. Probably the only notable thing I don’t remember from when I used to play, is the robotic announcer voice that sounds like the default female voice that comes default with Windows.
The games of Capture The Flag (Called “Jackhammer” in Loadout) and Blitz (Capture Points) that I played were entertaining, and I was faced against people of varying skill. One of my fears were that the few hundred people who still played this game may have been predominantly the sort of people who live and breath a single game and are unquestioningly superior at it. Instead, there were enough people of around my skill level to make the experience something devoid of frustration. I don’t know if this experience would be the same for everyone, but for a guy like me this is all I need.
Ultimately the game is still really solid and still remains playable with other people. But, obviously that can’t last forever. Looking into it, it does seem that the game’s developer, Edge of Reality, has actually closed down and doesn’t exist anymore. Without them, there doesn’t seem to be any avenue for a resurrection. I pose a question; who has the rights to the game, and what do they plan to do with them?
So at this point, the only probable reason Loadout is still here is because there is enough revenue to justify keeping the servers running. We’re playing on borrowed time, and that’s saddening.
I hold a small hope that some budding Loadout fans will get together and create the stuff required to be able to create private server stuff so people can keep playing Loadout years after the official servers power down. It feels unlikely, but it’s happened for multiple old games of the past so it is at least possible.
I think I’ll spend bits and pieces of the next few weeks playing Loadout, and taking what entertainment I can out of it before it shuts down. Loadout is fun and deserves more than what it got.