Blacklight: Retribution First Impressions

So I jumped into the open beta for this game tonight. It plays like a
sci-fi version of Alliance of Valiant Arms, with its customizable (cash
shop) equipment and multiple game modes. The GUI is a lot slicker
though, with lots of flashy effects and smooth transitions that make it
feel more polished. I enjoy it more.

With that said, it’s definitely a beta.

The gameplay feels faster and like less of a meat grinder than Alliance
of Valiant Arms. Where AVA focuses a lot on high body count and small
maps, Blacklight is primarily a “maze” game, with many pathways to
any given point. Many times I was able to get around an enemy trying to
take a point and hit them from a side passage.

The game modes that I encountered were Domination, Team Deathmatch, and Team King of the Hill. Domination is a standard take-and-hold affair,
but it’s made slicker by having two ways to capture a point ‚Äì the
slow but safer method of just sitting around the point until it becomes
yours, or the faster method of doing a quick “combination lock”
minigame that completely prevents any other action until you complete
it, fail it, or get killed. The minigame doesn’t take but a few
seconds, but you’re defenseless until it finishes. Team Deathmatch was
straightforward and bog standard for the mode. Team King of the Hill was
interesting and the most unique of the bunch – a beacon will spawn
randomly around the map, and the two teams try to capture it first by
standing around it until a meter fills up. Once it’s captured, a new
beacon spawns elsewhere in the map. It’s very much a heated battle
between big groups of sprinting players.

Headshots deserve a special mention here, because they’re particularly
gory. Any headshot will cleave the top half of a player’s head off
with a fountain of blood, leaving the esophagus’s ragged edge hanging
above the ruins of his jaw. Not a game to share with young kids.

The game includes its share of interesting weapons, including a
flamethrower with about triple the range of the TF2 Pyro’s
flamethrower, a rocket launcher, the standard array of assault rifle,
sniper rifle, and pistols, and so on. It also includes a small mecha you
can pilot called a Hardsuit, which is equipped with a railgun and a
minigun. The mecha is not overpowered, though, because while it’s
heavily armed and armored, it’s ridiculously slow. The safest way I
found to take one out was to just run up to melee range and circle
around it, always keeping behind it.

The most interesting mechanic related to the weapons is the depot
system, whereby you can stop by a depot station in game to purchase
things like the Hardsuit deployer, the flamethrower, and such. It takes
a second to get them, and you must accumulate an in-game currency to buy
them with, but the depot equipment is usually worth the effort and
danger to acquire them.

The beta problems I spoke of were minor – my primary complaint in this
regard was the occasional spots of server lag that caused magic damage
and Matrix-like evasion. Nothing to make the game unplayable by any
means.

I haven’t yet played long enough to determine whether the equipment
upgrades you can buy with in-game or real currency have any unbalancing
effect, but in the few rounds I played, I was able to hold my own
against players over ten levels above me with much better gear.