Some gaming brands are behemoths, and competing with them is never easy. MMORPGs must contend with World of Warcraft; FPSs must compete with Call of Duty. It’s the way it is, and in turn these games either follow the formula or find ways to market themselves as unique experiences. Rekoil looks at first as if it’s generic, but underneath the rough character models and textures is a game that not only offers PC players customization and balanced classes, but it even manages to evoke nostalgia and creativity, surprisingly enough.
Rekoil is born from the hard work of passionate modders. The project started from the computer of modder Jason Brice. Jason went from a modder to President and CEO of Plastic Piranha, and his team has since expanded from a solo effort to a group of twenty professionals of varying backgrounds–mostly modders.
Jason and programmer Michael showed off two levels for Rekoil for my hour session, but they managed to bring four total. One was an industrial area full of the usual catwalks and buildings of an industrial complex. Levels seemed fairly large, but this could be because I was playing 2 vs. 2. The levels aren’t unique to the genre; however, they avoid pitfalls such as respawn traps, and they provide plenty of tactical points which could be found even with my hour of play time. They may not look pretty, but they are fun to explore.
Jason did, however, mention that more thought went into the game’s levels than I had initially thought. The second level I played resembled a small base set in an arid environment. He excitedly told me how this level was based on their experience working with the Department of Defense (mostly from satellite mapping), and it certainly seemed like it. Coincidentally, this was my favorite level, as there were plenty of tight pathways for close range combat, and plenty of open parts for sniping. There will be 7-10 levels in the final build; however, modders are free to contribute more.
Rekoil is a class-based shooter at its core. I managed to spend time with each of the classes:
- Heavy Gunnery
Again, Rekoil is not trying to redefine the genre, and that’s fine; however, they are trying to create the most balanced shooter for competitive e-sports. Each class had its specific weapon layouts and how to use them. There’s no leveling up to score the better gun, nor are there kill-streaks for cheap kills; players will all start the game with only experience as their advantage. When I switched to a new class in which I was clearly incompetent, I understood why. For instance, the shotgunner class comes with only two powerful shots at close range and long reloads time. Shotgunners must close the distance and strike with speed and precision; otherwise, they’re toast. Being a bit more trigger-excited, I personally was partial to heavy gunnery, which while not the most accurate, does provide plenty of powerful firepower and plenty of ammunition. The rocketeer is a new addition to the game, and it too has been balanced so that there’s a slight delay between the projectile leaving the gun and hitting the enemy—although spread damage could possibly provide a one-hit kill.
As for how the game feels, Counter Strike veterans will have no problem fitting into their old battle gear. It even has the same control layout. Quick keys (assigned 1-4) will bring up your arsenal including your primary weapon, secondary weapon, grenade and knife—this is as opposed to simply tapping a key specific for throwing grenades or stabbing with the knife (and yes you do run faster with the knife). That’s not to say that the team didn’t include some modern designs. Players can use the right mouse (at least as assigned in demo) to look down the cross-hairs of their gun barrel, and they could hit the alt key to perform a melee strike, though it’s not as effective as the knife. Apart from not having to buy weapons, it looks and feels like it comes straight out of Counter Strike —and I am more than fine with that. I especially appreciate because it’s simple in which there aren’t kill-streak rewards, perks, or any of the standard bells and whistles; it’s just me, my gun, and team against the enemy.
The game does have a few issues that will hopefully be cleared up by release. The user-interface is slightly jumbled, which is only a problem when selecting classes. The grenade also has a questionable radius, and successfully pulling of a grenade kill seemed to depend on luck. And the last one I noticed is that the speed of moving shooting from the hip as compared to aiming down the cross-hairs felt too similar. There’s probably more that the more hard-core competitive shooter fans will notice, but the team was always asking players if they had suggestions, and they’re willing to listen. Not that they only look to the players at Quake Con for suggestion; as the game strives to build a community of modders, and are always taking suggestions. The game has previously been in what the developers called “greenlight beta,” and they assured me that beta tests have cleared up many issues from previous builds.
Rekoil is a game for modders, by modders, which is understandably difficult to demonstrate in a crowd. They did give me a few examples of how this could be used. For instance, players could use the back story to create their own single player campaigns. Players have already started creating their own, and I would have loved to have seen some of them in action at Quake Con. I remember Jason saying how someone has even already created a Half-Life mod, which I suppose is quite impressive. Again, I only could test what the developers have made themselves–if you want to see their modding community in action, I suggest visiting their community page, where users are already discussing their modding endeavors.
Rekoil prides itself for being a modder’s sandbox with a focus on always tweaking the balance for competitive e-sports. But for someone like me, who stopped playing competitively online after Counter Strike, it’s a simplistic return to form—although if that’s not your thing, then I suppose you could just mod it for yourself! That’s the beauty of Rekoil.
Plastic Piranha plans to release this for PC by October 17, 2013. It has been approved on Steam Greenlight.