Knowing nothing about the first-person shooter BulletRun and its lackluster title going in, I was not expecting to come away with a large grin on my face, but that’s exactly what happened. The game is joining the free-to-play, multiplayer-only movement that is currently invading our PC’s hard drives.
There are some interesting mechanics at play, none of which are particularly mind-blowing alone but when combined turn the game into a unique experience. Myself, Ryan Perez, and Daniel Starkey (some of the Dtoid Youngbloods) got to play BulletRun at E3, and we're a bit mixed with our feelings about it.
There will undoubtedly be many comparisons drawn between Super Monday Night Combat and BulletRun, and such comparisons are not really wrong. The game takes place in a fictional TV show with an announcer, it’s a bit light-hearted, and there’s plenty of taunting. The biggest difference, however, is that BulletRun isn’t a third-person MOBA game, but is instead a first-person shooter with character abilities.
Costumes that you can outfit your character with give the game a pro-wrestling vibe. The art style isn’t too unlike Gotham City Imposters -- there are real guns contrasted with wacky-looking characters. You begin to know people by how they look and not their actual name. There’s also a Nemesis feature, ensuring that rivalries will be born within matches themselves.
At the game’s core is your Heat meter. You’ll earn Heat for killing enemies, but you can multiply the Heat you earn if you perform a taunt shortly after you land the killing blow. Naturally, you risk getting smoked while you’re taunting, so you may want to find a seemingly safe location or simply not taunt at all, depending on the situation.
Heat is used for your four abilities, which will be completely customizable. My favorite ability from the demo I got to play basically turned my character into Wolverine, with claws and a powerful dash attack. Each ability has a cooldown though, so I couldn’t permanently parade around the level as a claw wielding clown.
BulletRun is very much a risk-versus-reward game. On top of the Heat mechanic there’s also active reloading to taunt you into risking your timing skills against a gun jam. Despite all of the comparisons you can make, BulletRun still feels fresh and unique. The free-to-play model they are using only forces you to use real world money for experience boosters and nothing else. It’s crucial that clothes are not real money only, since otherwise that pro-wrestling vibe would be incredibly stilted. The only thing left to see is how slowly you earn in-game credits.
Yet another free-to-play game to add to the list. I didn't even know BulletRun was a thing until we were ushered over to play it, after our lovely hands-on with Planetside 2. It wasn't too bad, though the content I saw was pretty slim. It reminded me a lot of Team Fortress 2 (gameplay and humor wise), but the different "classes" you could choose from didn't seem to have any specific use.
At least the gunplay was cool, and I particularly enjoyed the perks system that offered different weapons as rewards; saving up for the minigun was particularly rewarding. Even though BulletRun retained some simple fun, I don't really see much of a long-lasting appeal. Many people use the cliched statement "just another shooter," well, that happens to be the case with this game, it seems. Nothing really stood out to me that at least made it somewhat of a cut above the rest.
Then again, we did only play one map and mode. Perhaps the game has something incredibly awesome that we haven't seen yet. If that's so, though, then I wonder why we weren't shown that, instead of some generic deathmatch mode with your typical run-and-shoot mechanics. Surprise me, BulletRun!
When I played Bulletrun, I immediately thought of the Unreal Tournament series. BulletRun caries the notion of spectator deathsport to its logical conclusion. Players compete not for kills but for the attention of an invisible audience, and everything is built around the spectacle.
BulletRun is executed with such a style and sass that is both hilarious and deeply satisfying. I also thought that the free-to-play model was exceptionally well-suited to this kind of flashy gameplay. Most F2P games support themselves by allowing players to purchase alternate skins and costumes. What better way to integrate that than by giving players points for style?
There's a unity of focus here that is really nice to see. Everything has one purpose -- absurd fun.
BulletRun is slated for a summer release, but you can sign up for the beta here.