I hate sniper rifles. By proxy, I hate almost every single mainstream public shooting game ever made. Hate. Let me tell you how much I've come to hate Snipers since I began to live. There are thousands of online games I have tried and played with millions of players sent to the grave by my hands. If the word 'hate' was engraved on each and every gravestone of those hundreds of thousands of players it would not equal one one-billionth of the hate I feel for Snipers at this micro-instant. For them. Hate. Hate.
So far, Bulletrun has revived my faith in online shooters. The premiere focus of Bulletrun is high octane team based action with smaller maps to promote mass carnage. As such, the basic weapon every player is provided is the MP5 SMG, which as starter guns go is actually one of the better than average guns in the game. A skilled MP5 players can easily climb to the top of the scoreboards. I would know, I used one for about seven hours until I could afford the AK47 (Because I bought clothes instead of a gun at first, bite me). So far I have more or less encountered every class of gun in the game, or atleast the low level ones. The higher level weaponry fires faster and hits harder but that can be easily mitigated by tactics.
Unlike most big corporation schlock shooters, Bulletrun utilizes Dedicated Servers. While that is a step in the right direction I am curious about the moderating powers the host has, so far I have not witnessed anybody actually kicked from a match. And to my knowledge I have not actually seen a hacker yet either. Another feature all server based shooters are SUPPOSED TO HAVE that Bulletrun has is drop in functionality (Unlike the infamously terrible Blacklight Retribution). If you stay for the whole match you get bonus points, but beyond that there is no actual penalty for leaving early, you can cash out whenever and shop a bit then come back at any time.
The biggest trend of online shooters that has hit the nation is "Unrealistic Realism", that is to say its amazingly easy to kill people (Realism) but the weapons are obviously in no way firing the way their counterparts would ever behave (Un-Realism). You can see this in games like Renaissance Heroes or Blacklight:R where one shot is usually a kill, leading to endless frustration as server lag creates situation after situation of "WHAT THE FUCK, I HIT HIM!" until you finally delete the fucking game. There's none of that here, true you die very quickly in Bulletrun but recoil very often causes prolonged firefights as both parties spray bullets all over in the slim hope they hit hard enough to take the enemy down with small arms. The larger weapons like shotguns or various rifles kill much faster but only if your aim is true, being even slightly off target will alert your foe and get you shot before you can focus for another shot.
Yes, Sniper Rifles exist in Bulletrun. And yes, they hit hard. You will also notice that nobody high on the scoreboard uses them. There is a very good reason for this, so far there is only one map that truly favors snipers called "Cactus" which features a single climbable water tower on the desert surface that overlooks the entire battlefield. In Dominion matches controlling this tower is a game decider as a sniper on top can easily help defend the other point of the map while his allies protect the tower which is a capture point itself. The map also has a tunnel system that connects the four corners of the map that completely avoids any threat of randomly getting brained by a coward, and the surface is littered with cover for counter-snipers to clear the counter. In a word: Perfect. The map has something for both snipers and the close quarters combat the game is designed for.
All of the games focus is running around the map, preferably with allies close-by, and quickly gunning down who you run into. In the TDM mode, players spawn near allies so at any moment a enemy could flank you if you stop moving. The maps are also well designed for the most part, with any given part of the map having several paths either to move into or siege another part of the map. The only map I have a hard time enjoying is Studio, as most of the time you are running around that map you are thinking "Where the fuck is everybody?" despite how tiny the map actually is. That's the one issue I have with the map design, all of the maps are created to be set-pieces in themselves but not properly meant for legitimate clan battles. They feel like real locations, but are not helping the clan-based combat the game is trying to promote.
The first thought in your head is likely "Why not just all stay close together?". That's a bad idea. The weapons spray and recoil like angry demon mules and rain lead in every which way. There are many times that I have managed to kill up to six people at once by spraying Kalashnikov fire into the crowd and watching money flood into my bank account as they drop due to their very close proximity. The basic skill most players have access to is also the ability to wield a minigun. This minigun makes you very slow but can spray suppressing fire in a wide cone so teammates can move to flank. This weapon has such a wide arc that the weapon if ignored can easily erase an army if they can't kill the gunner fast enough.
This brings me to the unique system Bulletrun utilizes focusing more on you, the player than if you win or lose. You gain Heat points by killing people, and get more points for doing really cool stunts as you do. Killing enemies while airborne or doing a combat slide can easily add up to an impressive kill. Upon getting a kill, you will have a number of points accompanied by up to three stars. If you can successfully pull off a taunt while this value is there you will get an additional point bonus, and for 2-3 stars its more than worth it. Knowing when to taunt is important for when you absolutely have to have all of your skills available. You have four skills that you unlock access to at certain easy to reach intervals of Heat. In the beta there are two skills per tier but in time more will be introduced. You get more heat from killing better players, and less from worse players. This instigates you into hunting the better players when you can, or at least driving you into a kill frenzy. If you for whatever reason die before your heat is put into your account, you only get 75% of that heat.
The other Fad in shooters is customization. Currently, clothes are very expensive and guns are even pricier. Though the amounts are sky-high you can easily be getting around 500 credits a match. While that's pretty low you can at-least make 9000 credits for every 3-4 hours if you work hard enough. Every weapon also has two slots for customized mods that are actually rather cheap. These mods tweak aspects of the gun such as giving it a laser sight, heavier stock, or different barrel for small bonuses in aspects of the guns operation. The game clearly is designed around the concept of players having their own personalized weaponry. There has been at least a few times I praised another players customized weapon (Then shot them in face and looted it).
I like Bulletrun because its daring to do something different. While I dislike the extremely small amount of players per server (Most I have seen allow 16-20 players) I applaud the game for putting a focus on close quarters military engagements instead of the sniping campfests that every other shooting game on the market is composed of. In that respect the game happily reminds me of the original Unreal tournament in the concept of sprinting around these lovely landscapes and splattering enemies across them with the biggest angriest guns you can get your hands on. This is how games like APB or Blacklight should of been designed, instead of focusing so much on sniping. As human beings, we have a primal urge to get right in the face of our foes, shoot them in the kneecap and stab them in the eye with a bowie knife. You exit a two hour session of Bulletrun completely spent of aggression, having used all that aggression in pulse-pounding firefights and establishing the natural pecking order. Sun shines, Birds fly, and bruddah.... I hurt people.