Unreal Tournament (Pre-Alpha with Gameplay) – Is it working out?

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Developer: Epic Games
Publisher: Epic Games

Unreal Tournament is a high-octane FPS with both single-player and multiplayer game modes and it’s been 8 years since 2007’s Unreal Tournament 3 was released, but finally, we have another in development! Unreal Tournament is one of my favourite franchises and I’ve been longing for the next instalment for years! Even though I played UT3 and it wasn’t bad, there’s something about it that doesn’t make it feel like a real UT game. This is why I’ll mostly be referring to UT2004 occasionally.

Before I go any further, I can’t stress enough that this game is in Pre-Alpha and it has been since August 15th, 2014 so it’s in no way complete. What might be relevant now may or may not be relevant still as the game goes through additional iterations and anything is subject to change.

One big happy family!

Epic Games went for a different strategy and decided to heavily involve the community by being crowdsourced, which means thee source code is available on GitHub and anyone can contribute towards the development of the game. I think this is really cool because it’s basically saying that they want to make sure they’re making the game the way the audience wants it, which is great! It shows that they care!

Since it’s in Pre-Alpha, you’d expect that there wouldn’t be much available…well it actually has a good amount of content currently available to play/test! There are a few game modes and numerous maps to test your mettle, although most of the maps aren’t completely finished, you don’t really notice it once you’re engrossed in the intense gameplay that Unreal Tournament provides. There are a couple of maps that seem polished and they look fantastic, especially the desert map. I absolutely love it!

In its current state, Unreal Tournament has three game modes available on Multiplayer and 4 on Single-Player, which is good for a game in such early development. However these aren’t exactly complex modes as they’re quite common among the FPS genre. I’m really excited to see to see more game modes added.

Single-Player:

  • Duel – 1 vs 1 with the highest score (kills) winning the game
  • Deathmatch – Free-for-all with the highest score (kills) winning the game
  • Team Deathmatch – Two teams face against each other, team with the highest score (kills) wins
  • Capture the Flag (CtF) – Two teams face against each other, team with the most flag captures wins

Multiplayer:

  • Deathmatch
  • Capture the Flag (CtF)
  • Showdown – Two teams of three with 1 life each round. First team to 5 rounds wins

As I said earlier, these are some pretty basic game modes, but I never seem to tire of them when it comes to UT because the gameplay itself is just pure fun and chaos. What starts off as playing for thirty minutes may very well end as a good couple of hours! Even if the game doesn’t have a multiplayer progression system, I would play it all day.

The game also comes with its very own Training section and while it teaches you the basics of weapon combat and movement, there are some advanced techniques to be learned. It’s completely different however, when it comes to actual combat and fighting against highly skilled bots/players, you need to step up your game! Adding tutorial sections is great, especially for people who have never touched an Unreal Tournament game before and they’re entirely optional. Some games these days don’t let you start the actual game until you’ve completed their bone dry tutorials! With Unreal Tournament you can jump straight into the action!

How does it play?

Although it plays almost identical to previous Unreal Tournament games, the biggest difference is how movement feels and it’s a good thing. Jumping is still frantic but somewhat noticeably slower but not so much that it’s like comparing gravity on Moon to the Earth. This is a good thing because your eyes aren’t constantly trying to keep with with over-erratic movement on multiplayer, and even bots aren’t as insane on their highest difficulty level compared to previous UT games.

There is one thing however that makes up for this, and it’s their near perfect use of the Link Gun…the only gun they go for. It’s almost as if the difficulty modes should be called “Link Gun League” or something like that! Even if you last a good 2 seconds up against their extreme pin-point accuracy, you can still manage to get in a lucky shot or if you’re really skilled enough, a well deserved kill. It would probably be a good idea to nerf the Link Gun slightly or their accuracy with it on the highest difficulty setting.

Talking about difficulty modes, if you’re familiar with UT games you’ll know that there are…a lot of them, a whopping eight to be exact! In order of lowest to highest difficulty they are as follows; Novice, Average, Experienced, Skilled, Adept, Masterful, Inhuman and Godlike. It’s almost as if there’s a difficulty for any player regardless of their skill level, and that’s what is so brilliant about it! For me it acted as a progression system where I’d slowly go up one if I improved, which was great fun! Balancing these individually is also far easier than doing so with two or three skill levels. which brings me to the UT Pre-Alpha. Currently there are only three skill levels, 1, 2 and 3 Star. I’m not too sure if these are placeholders but as it stands I think the older system is better because of the variety of skill levels and it accommodates a wider range of players. 1 and 2 Star levels aren’t really all that challenging in my experience, but when I set it to 3 Star, it’s like playing on Inhuman. My point is that there seems to be no challenge but suddenly it ramps up.

The game comes with a level system where you gain experience from multiplayer matches, but as it stands there isn’t anything that you get for leveling up, so I assume that something will be added later on in development. What would be great is to unlock cosmetic rewards for gaining levels, for example classic weapon models or iconic character models, just something that doesn’t impact gameplay so much that you feel obligated to do it and your ability to play at higher ranks wouldn’t be hindered if you don’t have access to it.

What about our precious iconic weapons?

Well so far on the Pre-Alpha, the game has retained it’s iconic weapons such as the Flak Cannon, Rocket Launcher, Shock Rifle, Enforcer, Translocator, Link Gun and the other 1-9 weapons that span across your keyboard. The awesome thing is that they’ve received some updates to their art, some having more changed than others. But as always I love each and every one of them…maybe except the Sniper Rifle design because it just looks plain boring. Now maybe you’re asking “well where’s the Redeemer?!”, but you shouldn’t worry because it’s already in the game…but it’s half finished. The explosion is clearly not ready and you’ll see what I mean when you see a big rocket explode early on in the gameplay video! I can’t wait to see what they cook up for the final visual for the Redeemer! What I hope they’ll bring back are additional weapons like the Avril, Spider Launcher and Lightning Gun because these were just so damn fun! Laying spider traps and having them jump at the target only to have them explode is something you can’t pass up (I may have killed myself in the process).

This IS the game you’re looking for!

After playing hours and hours of the Pre-Alpha, which is something I usually wouldn’t do for any game, I just can’t help but feel excited for when it’s finally released as a finished game. The levels are well designed and put together, the weapons are as epic as they’ve always been and the gameplay is just as compelling as a game can get. I’d absolutely recommend that you at least try out the game, especially for you FPS-aholics. Just try not to be bothered by the W.I.P maps!

Score: Since it’s Pre-Alpha I tend not to give scores for them

Now you know what I think, let me know what you think of the game! But as always, you can catch the video at our YouTube channel if you so wish, along with other gameplay videos from other games! Hope you enjoy and have a great day!

One thought on “Unreal Tournament (Pre-Alpha with Gameplay) – Is it working out?

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