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First Impressions: Shining a Spotlight on Free PS4 Shooter Blacklight: Retribution

Posted by Mat Growcott

No cost CoD

Blacklight: Retribution has never been subtle about its similarities to Call of Duty. The popular Kill Confirmed mode, which first appeared in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, took only a short time to appear in the Zombie Studios developed shooter, and supposed leaked screenshots of Call of Duty: Black Ops II turned out to be taken from this, too. Now available on the PlayStation 4, its free-to-play status, above-average visuals, and interesting sci-fi features may just give Call of Duty a run for its money on consoles. That’s if the game can get better out of its current beta state, at least.

Twitch first-person shooters like these are pretty predictable – especially when they’re online only. You run around killing people, and that’s all that there really is to it. There doesn’t need to be much in the way strategy or communication (although both help), and you don’t even have to be especially good to perform well. It’s all about having fun and being accessible, and Blacklight: Retribution is pretty successful in both departments.

There’s more to the game than just running and gunning down anything that moves, though. For a start, you can use your visor to see where your enemies are. Hit a button and the whole level is laid out before you. This is balanced by not being able to use weapons while it’s equipped, a cool-down period after use, and a second or so of animation to get it on and off. If you turn on the visor and see an enemy come around the corner, then you’re dead.

There are innovations in the core gameplay, too. This is mostly linked to the inclusion of CP, which rewards you for each kill and objective that you complete. If you do more to help your team, then you’ll become a more valuable kill, and subsequently more people will try to attack you. There’s no better feeling than stretching a killstreak, seeing the skulls lineup in the bottom left of the screen, and knowing that everybody is out to get you.

When you’ve earned enough CP, you can rush out to one of the many depot outlets on each map and purchase some upgrades. These may comprise ammo and health replenishments, or more meaningful items such as a flamethrower or Hardsuit. The latter resembles a fusion between the Caterpillar P-5000 from Aliens and the armoury of a small nation; it’s almost unstoppable if not approached properly, and controlling it is great fun.

There would be very little to complain about with Blacklight if not for a few niggles. It’s important to remember that the title’s still in beta, so the studio’s working on fixing these issues, but at the time of writing they can really ruin your playtime. Things as simple as joining a match or adding friends are currently very touch-and-go – in fact, we’ve received invitations from people who’ve yet to actually try the title. Furthermore, if the host leaves a battle then it can result in a hard game over.

Fortunately, the in-game cash store is working fine. Tap the touchpad at any point and you’ll be whisked away to the store, where you can spend zCoins on items such as guns, experience boosters, tactical items (like healing boosts for your team or poisons for the enemy), armour, and more. What’s amazing is that the title still feels balanced despite these purchasable items, and you won’t really ever feel at a disadvantage because someone’s spent a bit of money. Well, that’s certainly not the case at the moment, anyway.

The visuals are serviceable, but the Unreal Engine does cause its own set of familiar problems. The environments look decent, and are enhanced by pretty strong lighting – but textures do pop in randomly. It’s naturally not up to the standards of Killzone: Shadow Fall, but it’s a good looking game all the same – especially considering the non-existent entry fee.

In all, Blacklight: Retribution is going to be a fantastic shooter on the PS4, but it’s not quite there yet. All it needs is a little bit of polish and a lot more promotion, but if you’re in the market for a complimentary copy of Call of Duty – with some neat extras – then check this out. It’s certainly not as smooth as Activision’s flagship franchise, but it makes up for any rough-edges with huge death-robots. At the end of the day, isn’t that what innovation is all about?


Have you fragged your way through Blacklight: Retribution, or are you just not a fan of free-to-play? How do you think that developer Zombie Studios can improve upon the game in the future? Shoot us down in the comments section below.

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User Comments (16)

chazaroonie

#1

chazaroonie said:

I downloaded the game last night but have yet to find a game, the system searches for matches and just gives up. I'll try later this evening to see if its any better. I was really disappointed as I've heard many good things about this game.

ZSKyle

#2

ZSKyle said:

@chazaroonie Hey Chazaroonie,

My name is Kyle, and I'm the community manager over here at Zombie Studios (Blacklight dev).

After reading the review, I noticed your comment and wanted to fill you in on where we're at with that. We currently have a patch in testing that will greatly improve matchmaking and quick match, and that patch should be released soon!

Thanks to Matt for the review, and thanks to you for checking out the Blacklight: Retribution on PlayStation 4 beta.

irken004

#3

irken004 said:

It's a great shooter to play in bursts, but there really should be a better (or cheaper) way to buy weapons permanently. My sister enjoyed herself playing this but the moment I mentioned that the only way to rent or buy new weapons was to play more or buy with real money. She was instantly turned off by both ideas. Maybe have a deal for PS+ members to get a discount on currency for the game!

chazaroonie

#5

chazaroonie said:

@ZSKyle Thanks for the reply Kyle, its very refreshing to receive a comment from one of the game's developers and great news that a patch is coming to help with matchmaking. I was really looking forward to playing Blacklight: Retribution as from what I've read it's one of the stronger free to play titles. I understand why people are unhappy having to grind or pay for better kit but what do they expect with a free to play game? I'm loving the chance to try new free to play gaming experiences on ps4 and salute Zombie Studios for leading the way on that front.

ZSKyle

#7

ZSKyle said:

@get2sammyb I'll gladly answer this question here, but then suggest you chat with me over on the Zombie Studios or Blacklight PS4 twitter/facebook pages as not to further hijack the comments. :)

Yes, we absolutely plan on having trophies just not during beta. Once beta is over we will!

Thanks for the question, and again hop on over to twitter/facebook and say hi!

Madd_Hatter401

#8

Madd_Hatter401 said:

@ZSKyle Awesome to see a developer embrace their game enough to care about its fans! I haven't given it a go as of yet, but seeing as you show the willingness to come on a PS fan site shows the game is something you're studio is passionate about. I'll no doubt be downloading this game soon.

Reverend_Skeeve

#9

Reverend_Skeeve said:

@ZSKyle Thank you for taking the time and effort for dropping in and answering some questions. Sadly, the game is not free on the German PSN, but it's only 0.49 €, so I downloaded it anyway, because I saw some interviews with you guys and love your passion and good humored attitude about Blacklight. And let's not forget: huge death-robots! ;)

@Mat nice preview!

DirectAim

#10

DirectAim said:

Glad devs are using push square to talk to fans, loved the article, ill give the game another try over the weekend, didn't manage to get into a game on release day

Beaston61

#11

Beaston61 said:

Gonna install this game tonight (UK). I have seen some people playing this on twitch.tv and for a FTP game it looks pretty sweet.

MatGrowcottStaff

#12

MatGrowcott said:

@Reverend_Skeeve Cheers!

I remember hearing that there are strict rules about giving away "adult" games in Germany. Do you often find you have to pay for things that are free elsewhere?

Reverend_Skeeve

#13

Reverend_Skeeve said:

@MatGrowcott Actually, I never heard about any rules concerning the giving away for free of adult games here up until now. Other f2p games are free here as well (DC Universe Online, all those game on the google play store and so on), but maybe it has something to do with Blacklight being an adult game, yes, since Warframe costs a few Euros on PSN as well.

In general, the German rating board for games is very strict, so maybe this has to do something with it. I did buy both Warframe and Blacklight, because I want to support passionate independent developers.

But normally I have the impression that stuff that's free elsewhere is also free here, luckily.

MatGrowcottStaff

#14

MatGrowcott said:

@Reverend_Skeeve I've been trying to find the specific source but I can't. I remember it being through the PlayStation Blog, I remember it being a free piece of DLC for a game, but in Germany you had to have PlayStation Plus as a confirmation of your age or something.

I guess if it doesn't pop up as a problem very often, it doesn't matter.

Reverend_Skeeve

#15

Reverend_Skeeve said:

@MatGrowcott No, luckily it doesn't pop up very often...in fact, this is the first time I encountered it.

But still I wonder...your explanation (or rather the one on the PS Blog) would make sense, if PSN or PS+ were a valid age confirmation, which they aren't...theoretically, I could set up a fake PSN account with an "I am at least 18" date of birth, then buy a PSN prepaid card to load some money up in the account and purchase PS+ without ever needing to put a credit card into the account data. As a matter of fact, I don't have a cc connected to my PSN account and pay for everything (including PS+) with prepaid cards...

But hey, I long stopped to wonder about German regulations...especially when it comes to video games and movies...I just sigh and accept the status quo... ;)

monster-3_4_3

#16

monster-3_4_3 said:

Isn't there an mode called onslaught on this game? So far I haven't been able to find it, can anyone help?

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