Ballistic Overkill: A Very Polished FPS

Ballistic Overkill, the fast-paced, PvP first-person-shooter by Aquiris Game Studio, has left Early Access as of a few days ago, with a couple of new features to boot. Besides this game, Aquiris has also produced Horizon Chase, an old-school racer for Android and iOS.

The year is 2036. A new form of energy is discovered. It is ample, harmless, and pure, and with it, can be used for the benefit of mankind. Of course, greedy corporations, like the Multi-Federation Alliance (MFA), have captured this energy and used it for their own purpose in terms of production, distribution, and extended research. Not everyone is in agreement with the MFA monopolizing this energy, in particular the oil industry. So mercenaries — highly trained ones at that — have arisen in response and have made strikes against a considerable amount of MFA facilities around the world. These mercenaries are mysterious; no entity behind them. But there’s one thing for sure: the MFA won’t tolerate this. So war commences.

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The game originally started as free-to-play that could be played right from a web browser. In October of 2015, the studio re-released it on Steam for Early Access, making it a pay-once model and thus eliminating microtransactions. About a year later, Linux compatibility was added, the developer also making the comment, “We…selected Linux support as a priority,” their reason being that “this step is essential for better servers in the next stage.” This is great news, and the benefit for us is that it runs very smoothly; you shouldn’t need that powerful of a PC to be able to play it. Haven’t experienced any crashes either, which is pretty extraordinary considering it’s using Unity as the engine!

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Ballistic Overkill is pretty easy to pick up and play: choose a class, a loadout, and then crash in with everybody else who is on the server. Servers are generally populated throughout the day; you can quickly join a match using Quick Match, search for a specific server if there’s one you want in particular (there’s actually a couple of GamingOnLinux servers), or make your own server, being able to choose the map and the game mode. Rules are simple: kill the enemy while avoiding getting killed. If there’s a point to capture, capture it. If there’s a base that needs to be taken hold of, stay in it as long as you and your team can. There’s seven classes to choose from — from snipers, to ninjas, to the traditional assault, to hybrids of these classes, each with their own unique advantages — ten maps, and four game modes. Each class can be modified with a wide variety of weapons, skins, and even skills. After each round, you earn experience. The amount you get depends on your performance. Earn enough and your class will rank up, unlocking additional weaponry, skills, or loadout slots (this rank is retained when you leave the game and is separate per class).

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Gunplay is nice. All of the time I spent with this game I used a Steam controller, using the gyro sensor for aiming. Not as accurate as a mouse, but better than an analog stick. Collision boxes are just about spot-on — no complaints about a bullet passing right through a target with no damage dealt. Gameplay is pretty much flawless, with most, if not all classes equally balanced (although snipers, AKA Wraiths, piss me off the most). Sounds are authentic. Voice lines were added not too long ago, giving each class even more personality and flair. These lines are mostly serious, consisting of something like, “No time to waste! Go, go!” when the character respawns, or, “Shit! Grenade!” when said item is thrown towards them. These voice lines can actually be turned off in the options menu, should they ever bother you. Also, text chat from players can be hidden, which is probably the best feature I’ve ever seen in a game. Want to know why? Easy! No salty-ass players complaining, “My team sucks,” at the end of the match! Or, “this dude’s hacking,” or, “I’m carrying my team,” or, “You guys suck!” The list goes on.

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Ammo is infinite and there’s no support class, so you don’t have to worry about scavenging for ammo or missing in on the action because you’re busy healing your teammates. Instead, your character can heal himself via health packs scattered across the map, the amount of health points recovered depending on the size/shape of the kit. Thus, the name of the game makes sense — you can pretty much go nuts in killing the enemy, and not have to spend much time doing anything irrelevant.

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For $11.99, you can’t really go wrong here (although, I’m going to be sad if you haven’t bought it until now; it was $6.99 while it was in EA). Ballistic Overkill is pretty fun and is a breeze to pick up and play. And even though it’s out of Early Access, the developers have promised to continue delivering more and more content and game enhancements via updates, and skins for classes/weapons can be bought through DLC. Unlike some other shooters, which, sadly, have not received updates in years (I’m thinking about you, Storm United), I seem to be confident Ballistic Overkill will gladly take their place and continue to keep a happy, populated community (Steam Charts says there’s a little over 300 players as of the time of this writing [9:30 AM], with almost 500 at it’s peak. Finding a match should never be an issue).

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It’s a little more fast-paced than, say, Insurgency, and slightly cheaper than Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, with the addition of iron sights and sprinting, and Team Fortress 2? Well, I suppose you can never go wrong with free, so there’s always the advantage there. Still, if you want a new change of pace, Ballistic Overkill would be my choice.

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Note: I would have some gameplay footage recorded for your viewing, but the video output was very, very laggy. Sorry!

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