I’m a pretty big fan of a twin-stick shooter. In general, I really like the mechanics – they’re easy to get into but have a nice skill ceiling for being a good player. To me, Magicka and Helldivers are great examples of solid twin-stick shooters. Before you start yelling and going all crazy, I’m not saying those are the only great twin-stick shooters around, just examples of ones I personally enjoy. Recently I had the chance to take a look at Deployment, an “intense, competitive top-down shooter”. So does Deployment play as good as it sounds? Read on to find out.
One of the first things I do when I get a new game to review is read through the steam page. Not the reviews – I don’t want to skew my findings – but the break down of what the developers say the game is. My excitement was piqued a little when I was fed what seemed like some game lore:
After the Last War, civilization is on the brink of disappearing. However, and thanks to technology, the world is still running on autopilot… for now. Computers are keeping all critical systems running – and whoever controls these computers will rule the entire world. Factories, transportation grids, energy plants: every single critical system in the world is ruled by a computer connected to the Etherweb. What is left of the old governments and megacorporations are fighting to control these systems and take over the world. Infosoldiers, artificial intelligences made of pure information, fight this endless war.
To me, this sounds really exciting. With this alone, I’m expecting a storyline and I can only imagine that other people would be as well. You may understand my disappointment then in learning that this is as much of a story as you get. There is no narrative in this game outside of this piece of information. Honestly, though, that is something I can get passed. Though story can be a big part of a game it is the gameplay that really matters.
The first thing you should do is play the tutorial. It introduces you to the mechanics and bindings of the game. In addition to obviously shooting and killing your opponents, there is also a capture and defend component. Scattered throughout the procedurally generated map are ‘system turrets’ that grant tactical advantages such as revealing the map or healing you when in proximity to the turret. The nodes to capture the turrets are usually located on a separate part of the map from the actual turret, which make defending them more of a challenge than just hanging out near them.
After the tutorial, you’ll have the option to play a death match. That’s… pretty much it. The deathmatch comes in three flavors: Against bots in an offline mode, solo queue online (called simply deathmatch), or team deathmatch. One thing I found through multiple online queues was that deathmatch mode often resulted in me being teamed up and/or matched against multiple bots. I didn’t actually play against other players all that often, which was really disappointing in a game that offers no other options than to play arena deathmatch games. The variety of life outside of this monotony came in the flavor of five classes:
- Gunners: equipped with high-speed weapons capable of dealing high damage
- Pyro: fast moving, light armored units that take damage and turn it into firepower
- Sniper: long-range killers with invisibility and stealth kill abilities
- Cyclops: Steals enemies health with their lasers
- Rocketeer: heavily armored, tank-like units that fire area-of-attack rockets
I have to give credit where it’s due – each class played very uniquely from each other and in the few matches I had where they were all represented the balance of the match was top notch, resulting in a match that exhilarating and extremely close. The problem was that this happened twice out of about 40 matches and that’s simply not often enough to keep players coming back.
Graphically speaking I enjoy what Whale Rock Games brought to the table. The visuals are unique without being cheap and have an essence of quality to them that isn’t often seen with small developers utilizing the Unity engine. The particle effects are fun and they did a really nice job with the lighting – which is something I can say from experience is not an easy feat with the Unity engine. However, there are optimization problems. I played Deployment on both my desktop and laptop and experienced micro stuttering on both. My desktop sports a Ryzen 2600x overclocked at 4.3Ghz and a water-cooled 1080Ti and my laptop is packed with an i7-7700U and a GTX1060 6GB. Neither of these systems should be stuttering with Deployment. Delightful as the visuals are they are nowhere near demanding enough to tax modern systems.