Deployment Review – Error: Mercy File Not Found (PS4)
Deployment is a game that seems to be in hurry. There is no opening cinematic. No wall of text telling you why A.I. programs are waging a battle to the digital death. The title screen simply takes you to the options to play either online or offline or to play the tutorial. The tutorial even moves very quickly, telling you only the most basic mechanics and sending you off to the slaughter. Now normally, a competitive versus game doesn’t really require any extra dressings around its core gameplay loop, but I feel that Deployment takes this lack of fanfare a little too far.
The battles play out on maps that are divided into several rooms. You only get vision in the room that you, or a teammate in the case of team battles, are currently in. Any others are simply grey space, a stark contrast against the white of rooms with vision. You can move to a new room by moving up alongside one of the dividing walls and pressing the interact button. This teleports you across the wall into the new space. The goal is to find your opponent and kill them before they kill you.
There are five playable classes with which to deal out destruction. Each one has a unique super move and two different weapon types to choose from. Also on offer are six passive upgrades, two of which can be equipped at once. The option to change classes is offered between every death, allowing you to switch strategies on your opponents if your current tactics are failing you. The Gunner offers the usual all around option with good range and fire rate. The Pyro uses its flamethrower to dole out close range damage. The Sniper turns invisible and waits for the one-shot kill. The Cyclops fires a constant beam that can steal health when using the super move. And lastly the Rocketeer deals splash damage to annihilate closely packed enemy groups.
All of these options are unlocked from the beginning, which allows everyone to have the same power level as far as customization goes. This is fun to play with, but at the same time it leaves the game little to come back to. There are no rewards for playing, aside from winning your next match. The game doesn’t even save your upgrades or weapon choices for each class, requiring you to re-equip all five units every time you have to start-up the game. This, thankfully, is fast and easy to do and at least never adds up to more than mild annoyance.
The final wrinkle on the battlefield are the program towers and power-ups. Gaining control over the towers offers various benefits, such as a turret that fires on hostile players that enter its room, or a bot spawner that continuously spits out small allied units that seek out other players. These can be captured by interacting with a small empty square on the floor with a line attaching it to one of the towers. These are always in a different room than the tower itself, so that no one can simply hide under a turret or a healing tower and keep control of it at the same time. The power-ups offer bonuses such as double damage or extra health.
Straight to the Point
Combat plays out lighting fast. Sometimes jarringly so. When a player’s health is depleted, they immediately disappear. There is no death animation. No explosion. Not even so much as a poof. When you die you are instantly gone, and the camera jerks directly to your next respawn point. It keeps the pace at maximum speed, though it took a few rounds for me to adapt to the pace and style. All the characters are just floating assortments of shapes gliding across the stark white field. This, along with the sonic speed of combat, made it difficult at times to keep up with what was playing out.
Once I adapted, however, battles went quickly and smoothly. After becoming accustomed to its systems, I took my Rocketeer class and laid waste to all who came before me. Though most of my matches started to end as shut-outs, I felt it was more a product of my enemies simply throwing themselves directly back into my line-of-fire. Had they instead than moved around and fought for control of the towers I was using to my advantage, they would have been able to wage a less one-sided fight.
Deployment offers itself as it is. It doesn’t take extra time to decorate or fluff up its world or the scenario that has you fighting in the first place. But neither does it give much reason to come back and keep playing it, other than to simply keep playing. It lends itself well to those who simply want to quickly boot up a game and knock out a few matches within minutes. But if the basic loop of fight until you win isn’t enough to keep you coming back for more, there is nothing else on offer to change your mind.
Deployment review code provided by Whale Rock Games. Version 1.00 reviewed on a standard PS4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.