I admit, Deathloop wasn’t quite what some had hoped. At least if you expected another exceptional game from Arkane after Dishonoroed and Prey, which we will talk about in a few years. Deathloop was still great for what it aspired to be. If I may do a band comparison, this game was kind of the best of this fantastic studio. A sampler that seemed born out of a fixed idea instead of a new album. Tonally, as well as in composition and structure, it was still a worthwhile experiment, falling just a little short of its potential basically only because Arkane didn’t provide the most satisfying answers to the questions this world and premise posed.
Of course, you can find details on this in our Deathloop test from last year. For now, though, what interests us is that the PS5 console exclusivity is ending today, with a bang that should do a lot for the game. Because now the Xbox version is also added and the game appears parallel to it in Game Pass. A game like this, with so much creativity and conceptual finesse, deserves every single pair of eyes it can draw. And thanks to Game Passes, there should be quite a few now.
Matching the Xbox release, the Golden Loop update is also coming out, which, among other things, brings a new type of weapon: The Halps Prototype is a laser with completely different ammunition management than the rest of the arsenal, because it eats batteries instead of lead. A new slab lets enemies attack their colleagues, and side quests now reward you with double trinkets. New enemy types and a hidden fresh boss fight as well as an extended ending complete this definitive version of the game. And for those who more or less had to pause the game, you’ll also be pleased with all the accessibility options that have been added over the past year, because there’s some useful stuff in there for all kinds of gamers.
Francesco Venco, Senior Gameplay Programmer at Arkane Lyon, found the latter to be an especially enriching learning process, as he told me in an interview. “We have taken accessibility very seriously. There are a lot more accessibility options now and this process has changed the perception of our entire studio,” he recalls of the work that has been done on Deathloop since launch. “Our UI lead pushed very hard on this and I think it’s an example of how not only the game has evolved, but how we as a studio have evolved as well. Once you start working on these kinds of options, you’ll notice a lot of things you never thought of before. In fact, many of the options are good for all players, some of the toggle functions for example.”
Above all, I’m happy about the renewed release on Xbox and Game Pass for the multiplayer mode, whose cat-and-mouse game I find very exciting and which I warmly recommend to you. From now on, Deathloop will also run with the Xbox in three-platform crossplay, which should mean a lot of potential new players. Basically, this is an invasion mode where you invade another Deathloop player’s solo play and then ruin their day with sabotage, deception and direct attacks. If the Colt player’s camouflage is blown, you will be informed of your whereabouts and can join the fight – or you can set traps with mines and the like yourself.
Even those who are otherwise not very fond of multiplayer should find it exciting how you go on the hunt for very dangerous prey. And anyway, it’s fun how you combine abilities from Karnesia – throwing opponents via telekinesis – to Nexus – combining opponents so that they share a fate – to Shift – short teleport – to another goal: a dash to a human opponent to do the calculation. And even if you give the Colt yourself and just try to complete a mission, the hint that a human Julianna is invading the game gets your pulse racing every time. The advantage of the Colt player: He doesn’t just have one life like Julianna, but three. Your advantage: You know which goals he has to fulfill and you can disguise yourself as a normal AI opponent.
Incidentally, Arkane had identified another problem with Julianna’s camouflage ability, as Francesco Venco explains. “Julianna’s Masquerade ability was the only power that didn’t have upgrades.” Some players would therefore have preferred to be able to exchange this skill for others. However, Arkane preferred to go a different route: “We didn’t want to take Julianna’s masquerade because this skill is a very specific design decision for her character.” Instead, there are now a few upgrade options for Masquerade that expand the repertoire of the protector of the loop.
Amazingly, I found the balance amazing for such an asymmetrical game. And if I lost, I still got plenty of unlocks that let me play with my personal build again, which is a big part of Deathloop’s multiplayer appeal. The only thing you can blame the mode for is the lags, which were common and spoiled some games for me. I hope this gets better with the new release in Game Pass.
You have to have a little patience and, above all, glee. I love being stationed somewhere motionless as an AI opponent, watching a colt carefully avoid my supposed cone of vision to position himself for a sneak attack, only to have me turn around and hand him my automatic shotgun press in the face. Yes, these matches tell beautiful stories by themselves. And even if a game passes you by rather uneventfully because Colt was just too good for you this time, there was always danger in the air. I really like the mode and hope you guys give it a try.