*Edit* Rekoil is no longer available on Steam and I hate that it ended. I really could use a classic FPS like this with an easy level editor. (Man I had a ton of fun with the editor…)
Almost every FPS to date has been trying to outdo every previous FPS that has come before it. They’ve all added more guns, years (future settings), perks, paths, or something extra. Arguably, first person shooters have come a very long way since Maze War or Wolfenstein 3D. Then along came Rekoil who sought to bring the FPS back to its basics. There are no perks, leveling up/progression, or special moves. Rekoil is all about the joy and competitiveness of your twitch skills (unless you’re cheating, at that point you just need to stop).
Is it bad when a game developer wants to strip away many of the elements of the FPS genre that most of us have become accustomed to? I would say no to that. However, when Rekoil came out the gate it wasn’t without some glitches. When you’re going to try something different from the (now) established “norm”, you’d better come out swinging with everything you’ve got.
505 Games doesn’t seem to appreciate the Steam Early Access bit though. I believe Rekoil and Takedown: Red Sabre would have done much better if they were released as a “beta” game instead of a full release. While not all games release without glitches or bugs, when you launch with the banner of “we’re not done, we’re still working on it”, things are usually more easily forgiven. This is especially true in the case of Rekoil since they were patching it like crazy (which is a good thing). Buyers would probably have said “look how much the mods are listening” as opposed to “they are just trying to polish a turd”.
Does the recipe the developers of Rekoil chose to follow work? I would be hard pressed to say no. I think what they have going right now works and it works rather well. The gun-play is smooth, not swimmy in the least. The movement is also done well. They were going for an old school feeling and they nailed it on the head. Granted, I played it recently and that is a few patches post launch. However, if you remember that I interviewed Jason Brice after I played Rekoil at Pax, I liked it then even before it launched on Steam. You get everything right off the bat and I like that. Rekoil is getting a bit of flack for the same reason, though, and I believe that is something of a “if you give a mouse a cookie” situation:
Generic FPS Player: “Where’s this game’s longevity?”
FPS Game Developer: “We hear you and so we’ve added levels to add some form of progression. When you level up, you unlock different guns!”
Player: “You’re implementation is to simple. It’s like you barely put any thought into it!”
FPS Dev: “OK, we’ve now added perks and paths. Now you can customize your character and play how you want.”
Player: “It’s too easy to level to the top! Everyone’s a general…”
FPS Dev: “We’ve now introduced more guns, ranks, and increased how much experience points it takes to level up!”
Player: “It takes too long to level up! Now I can’t make any progress.”
FPS Dev: “Fine, screw progression! Here’s everything! Now you have access to all the guns, maps, skins for both you and your guns, and you can create you own levels!”
Player: “But where’s my character progression? I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere. Also, now that I look at it, the graphics aren’t as great as this other shooter I’ve played before…”
FPS Dev: “… Go play a freak’n RPG!”
While progression, ranks and perks are a neat things, that doesn’t mean that every single shooter has to have them. Does that mean that Rekoil is less of a shooter than the latest Call of Duty or Battlefield. It can, if it was a bad game, but it’s not. That is unless you want to call the older CoD’s, Counter Strike or Goldeneye games bad shooters. You can’t do that without being wrong.
One of the things I want to love more about Rekoil is the ability to make your own levels and then upload them to Steam for others to download and play on their servers. (Side note: dedicated servers… freaking finally!) This is quite cool and I even started to create my own map. However, there’s not much feedback given if you have any questions. A lot of the time I’m given links to things that assume I know exactly what I’m doing with the Unreal Dev Kit, which I don’t. I really don’t! I’m still going to work on it though, just in case I can figure out my lighting issue.
The last point of contention with Rekoil is the lack of players. There needs to be more people playing this game. Right now, as it stands, the servers are mostly empty. With luck, you can find a few servers full on Thursdays and I hope that that continues to carry over to other days of the week, but I kind of don’t think it will. After creating the map… I may opt for a dedicated server myself just so I can invite people to play on my map/maps because they will be freaking cool (once finished, which could take some time).
*Edit* I apparently need to state that every Thursday was going to be a jump on and frag people night because nobody showed recently.*