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- Blacklight Retribution
Tons of weapons and gadgets (though curiously no black lights to be found anywhere).
Blacklight Retribution brings with it a number of “firsts”: It’s the first American-made free-to-play shooter built from the ground-up, the first free-to-play to utilize the Unreal 3 Engine, and if Zombie Studios’ prayers to their Zombie gods are heard, it will redefine the free-to-pay model with an extensive “try before you buy” approach.
Having been in open beta for about a month now and gearing up for an official release that’s right around the corner, the sequel to Blacklight: Tango Down is polished, impressive to look at (for free-to-play), and has loads of content ready to go in a steady stream of updates in April and beyond.
Retribution may be a multiplayer FPS, but the amount of customization smacks of an RPG. Indeed, Zombie Studios made a logical play in enlisting Perfect World to publish it, a company with a well-established track record in both the MMORPG and F2P spheres. Inspired by the car tuning element in racing games, all of the guns and gear in Retribution can be customized both in performance and appearance (we’re talking such minute things as the barrel, muzzle, stock, and weapon tags). There won’t be any classes in the game per se; rather, you’ll dictate your playstyle through the types of equipment you use. If you want to be a heavily armored sniper or a stealthy medic, all you need to do is equip the appropriate gear.
That’s all well and good, but eventually you’ll have to take your finely-tuned soldier out for a spin. Retribution comes with the standard modes that we’re all used to seeing in an FPS, but there are a couple others coming down the pipe that will offer a nice bit of variety. NetWar is a mode heavily inspired by WoW’s Eye of the Storm battleground, in which teams will earn points by capturing and holding resource nodes while concurrently fighting to run a neutral flag in to one of their controlled nodes for additional points.
Siege mode is an escort mission in which teams take turns guiding a slow-moving tank toward a goal area. A player has to be in the tank to move it, during which time they have access to its impressive arsenal. Opposing players can attack the tank to disable it briefly or opt to focus down the players guarding it first. Both the NetWar and Siege modes will not be available immediately upon release, but are scheduled to come in patches during April, so you won’t have to wait long at all to try them out.
Saying the words “free to play” is liable to cause many gamers’ butt cheeks to clench up, but Retribution’s developers want to dispel the stigma with a model that they hope will set the trend for future Western F2P’s. Their first pledge is that one should not be able to simply buy their way to dominance over a skilled player who’s put in the time. To that end, all of the gear that you can buy is also available through in-game credit that builds up as you play. The only things that are exclusive to people paying real money are the hero characters, which come with special skins a pre-set weapon loadout. Note that while the hero characters may come with good gear, all of it is also obtainable in-game for free; their primary purpose is more to provide cool and unique skins for a paying customer.
The other important element to the game’s structure is that all of the items available for purchase, including the hero characters, are unlocked for a limited trial period as you play the game. Anytime new equipment or characters become available, you’ll get to use it absolutely free for a few days’ time. This “try before you buy” approach is meant both to generate more interest for players to buy items that they want, as well as give the more leery buyers a way to test-drive stuff so they don’t waste money on something that doesn’t turn out to be fun for them.
Blacklight Retribution is set to “officially” release in early April, but you can try it right now in open beta.