Veteran development studio Edge of Reality has been around for over 14 years.

Even so, there’s still a good chance that you don’t know much about them.  That’s because in all that time they’ve yet to make a game of their own.  Sound crazy?  Not entirely.

See, you may know them as the guys who did the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of The Sims 3 or Dragon Age: Origins, or even as the guys who ported Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1-3 to the N64, but there’s still a good chance you don’t know them at all.  Fair enough.

Enter Loadout, EoR’s first wholly owned IP and first game being developed and published in house.  A free to play shooter that looks a bit like Team Fortress, plays a bit like Unreal Tournament, and let’s you create your own weapons.  Sound cool?  Yeah, it is.

If you build it, they will bleed.

I recently went hands on with Loadout and was pleasantly surprised in nearly every way.

The game runs on an impressive proprietary engine that EoR still has no name for (it might end up being called the Loadout engine) which makes for the smooth and seamless cartoon visuals and animations you saw above.

After messing around in a testing area that let me create a weapon from over a million combinations, I jumped into a LAN match with a team of EoR devs led by creative director Mark Nau, formerly of Treyarch.

The game mode I played (which was not your standard TDM) had me in a 2v2 arena where I had to collect colored crystals and dump them into containers while trying my best not to be killed.  Only one teammate could pick up the crystals at a time while the other acted to defend them from being blown to bits.  There was some verticality to the level, but this wasn’t exactly Quake Live.  The movement was fast, but not too fast, and there was plenty of strafe jumping to be had.  T’was good times indeed, mostly because of the weapons involved.

Yes. This is an Actual Screenshot. No, I don't Know What That Weapon Does.

Ah yes, weapons.  Loadout will let you carry two weapons at a time.  One of your own creation, and one of a selection of preset weapons such as classic rocket launchers and machine guns.

As Mr. Gold, (I dug the Reservoir Dogs reference) I at first went into the matches with a standard bazooka, and also a gun I’d created which shot arcs of chained lightning in a corkscrew pattern at a machinegun pace.  It sure looked cool, but it was no match for Mark’s incendiary bazooka of which he could make the projectiles explode at any time.

So, I messed around with the wepaon creation some more and found that you could create guns that heal (I made a Healzooka) as well as cannons that shoot projectiles that can either explode on impact, explode when you tell them too, run along the ground or bounce like a fat girl named betty.  As I said before and as Mark reiterated, there are literally over a million combinations when it comes to making your weapons in Loadout.  Electric ammo, incendiary ammo, armor piercing ammo, healing ammo, these are just some of the multitude of options.

Blood, You Can Has It

The game takes cartoon violence to extremes and often you’ll see dismembered body parts flying through the air, if not entire torsos crawling around in agony after being blown in half by a rocket shell.  There’s blood everywhere, and EoR loves it.  Elmer Fudd would probably dig it, too.

Pay to win?  Of course not.  No self respecting developer makes a F2P game that way these days.  You unlock weapon upgrades and customization options by earning them in game, not by throwing money at your screen.  As far as pay to look good?  Yeah, there’s enough hats in this game to make Gabe Newell blush.

Now, you might think that a game which allows players to create all types of different and insane weapons might be a bit unbalanced when it comes to the competitive side of things, and you’d be right.  During my playtime I made some insane weapons that simply were no match for Mark’s tried and true creations, but that’s also part of what makes Loadout so much fun.  As you create and customize new weapons, you find out what works for you as well as what works for your team, and also what definitely doesn’t work.  So, while you may not see Loadout being hailed as the toast of any MLG events any time soon, you’ll certainly see plenty of guys like me playing the hell out of it during the open beta while EoR tries to balance all this madness. Speaking of the beta, you can sign up for it now.