Jagex has recently released Block N Load in the wild after a good few months in Early Access and while the game had its flaws, the final release promises to be much better, but does it build upon an already great concept? Or does it topple like pile of bricks hit with a grenade?
Block N Load is a complete world away from what you’d expect from Jagex. The company is likely known for its long-running free-to-play RPG RuneScape and while they dabbled in a first person shooter with Ace of Spades, I’m sure we all know how that went. So with Block N Load, Jagex are hoping to have learned from the mistakes made with Ace of Spaces and are actually listening to fans. So, making the most of Early Access, Jagex launched an early build of the game and took upon tweaking and adding features in following fan feedback. Shoot to four (or so) months later, here we are with the full release of Block N Load.
At launch onto Early Access we published our first impressions of the game saying that while the concept as a whole is fantastic, there’s a lot of work to be done to make the game as impressive as we all hoped. So four (or so) months on, we’re going to take a look at how, if at all, the game has improved rather than blabbing on about the gameplay as a whole. So, for those who don’t know, Block N Load is a multiplayer focused shooter that blends block building, attack and defend first person gameplay, and an insane amount of explosions. Two teams of five set out to defend their cube generators and cores, while attacking the enemies. It’s a blend of Team Fortress and Minecraft, in short.
When we first hopped on the game we tested an early, early alpha, and it showed promise, so we have however been keeping an eye on the game, watching it’s launch into Early Access, the various updates which have been added in between, and finally the big launch. During this time Jagex have done an impressive job of using Early Access as it should be used; they’ve listened to fan feedback, used the information to improve the game, and have launched a pretty impressive, polished game.
Along with new fancy animations, more stable graphics, and even more blocks for players to use in battle, the game overall feels a damn sight more complete, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience with most, if not all, of the little things that made it feel like an Early Access title being smoothed out and fixed. But it hasn’t been overly fixed, if that makes sense? The game still features it’s whacky mechanics, it still fills the screen with an insane amount of blocks when someone places a massive bomb in your defences, and you still go flying half way across the map whenever someone places a speed block and a bounce block in close proximity.
The game, as you might be aware, features a colourful cast of characters each with their own features and unique blocks, there are currently six in all with plans to add more in the future. With only five spaces to fill however you might be wondering whether there’s a disadvantage to omitting certain characters or having multiples of others on the same team. This is where Block N Load gets truly interesting. Each character has its own strength and weakness, but that really doesn’t matter, at least not for me. It’s more about how you handle the character and how you all work as a team that counts.
Team work in Block N Load is key. Whether you all decide to jump in as different characters or all decide to opt for one singular, if you don’t at least try and work as a team, you’ll soon fail. This can have both a positive and negative effect on the game as with any multiplayer focused title. For example, one game I entered had many people chatting in the pre-game lobby and continued to communicate in the game, and even though it was short words like “defend” or “at base” we all knew what was going on and offered support when it was needed. Another game I played was the opposite of that with all players remaining quiet as a mouse, and while I offered some sort of help via the text chat it went wholly ignored. As you can guess the outcome wasn’t the same and we did lose.
Unfortunately that’s just one of the negative things that come with mutliplayer shooters with matchmaking. If you don’t work together or one player decides to go lone-wolf, you’ll fail. It’s up to you to try and be a team player to counteract that.
So in four or so months time Jagex have been working their socks off to improve the game to not only appease players, but also make the game accessible enough to everyone. Playing the game from as early as the pre-alpha I’ve seen the game change from something fairly clunky to today’s live build that’s a lot more smoother and a lot more complete, but at the same time it’s still a familiar concept. Players of first person shooters will likely get on the best with this game, but for those who play crafting games like Minecraft, will also be able to add in what they’ve learned from that to build decent defences but also look at the game from a different perspective.
It’s that “anything is possible” concept which makes Block N Load a truly fantastic game. And I don’t say “anything is possible” for no reason, with Block N Load literally anything is possible. No two games are the same and everyone brings something different to the game each time. Whether it’s a particular structure which sticks in your head, or a specific play-style that you learn from getting your ass whooped. The game is not only a fun experience to play, but every time you play, you learn something new to further increase your skill or tactics in the game.
Speaking of which, for those who want to increase their skills, players can continually play to further boost their favourite characters whether it’s a fancy new skin or a new skill which increases reload time. This added customisation and reward for playing the game adds to the game’s already addictive replayability.
There’s just one thing I will add, which is more of a personal preference than criticism. I’d love to have controller support for the game. While I can get on with keyboard and mouse controls, I’m a console player at heart and I’d absolutely love controller support.
Despite what happened with Ace of Spades, Block N Load is a definite redeeming point for Jagex entering a genre which many would see as a fairly new direction for the developer. Have they exceeded my expectations? Damn right they have. The game no longer feels like a game that could work, it now feels like a game that does work.
Oh, and have you ever wanted to know what the concept of Block N Load would be like if applied to real life? Check out the video below!
We’re also giving away a fantastic Block N Load goodie back and five codes for the game! If you want to be in with the chances of winning click here.
This review was written based on the full-release version of Block N Load provided to us by Jagex.
[su_youtube url=”http://youtu.be/jLgUxRBKrKU” width=”500″ height=”600″]