Line of Sight is Steam’s latest free-to-play shooter offering, standing out from most of the current crop by virtue of its generic qualities. That’s not entirely a negative though; it offers a nice change from all the class-based team shooters most of its peers seem to be, and even if generic the gameplay is still good fun.
One feature that is supposed to make Line of Sight less generic and a bit special are the special abilities, like short-range teleportation or unleashing a fireblast. Damage-dealing ones are called Psionics while the utility-focused ones are called ESP. Most of the game rooms I’ve found are ESP-only, and the only ESP I've seen in use is the teleportation ability, Blink. It's noticeable when an enemy uses it to escape your shots, but by and large the game resembles a standard FPS.
The one time I played a full Psionic-enabled match (which also allows ESP usage), it was pretty fun killing enemies with the fireblast when I got the chance to, while other players summoned large, unknown objects that came crashing down or unleashed tornados. Psionics take longer to charge and consume more mana than ESPs, so guns were still the main killing tools, but their visual effects - which are more chaotic than pretty - make their presence easily felt compared to Psionics. Ultimately however they just feel like gimmicks, albeit fun ones, and there are Classic modes that do away with them if you’re not interested.
Line of Sight is made by Seoul-based BlackSpot Entertainment, and so it features traits that I’ve come to expect from Asian-developed free-to-play shooters - weapon renting (I’ll get to this later) and straightforward maps that largely direct players forward and let them flank a bit. Five years ago I would have bemoaned such map design, but after running around in Call of Duty’s arenas for a couple of years I find it to be a refreshing change of pace.
Locations are also nothing special. The usual suspects like warehouses, ships and ancient ruins are present, although the Cornflakes map offers something slightly different with its corn fields that obscure players. I’ve only dabbled in Team Deathmatch so far, and the maps are, overall, serviceable.
More impressive is the gunplay, which is pretty standard but satisfying nevertheless. Like most other Asian F2P shooters nowadays, the gameplay resembles modern shooters more than Counter-Strike, with sprinting and iron sights. Sprinting is slightly amusing though, with the audio effect making it sound like your character is moving in a furious flurry of short steps. Hip-firing is still quite effective at close-to-mid range, though I personally find it more natural to switch to sights. Overall, it’s a nice, comfortable blend of the two. There’s no insane spread or recoil to master, which combined with the map design makes Line of Sight a good choice for casual FPS fun.
There is weapon renting, but thankfully the option to purchase a weapon permanently is available as well. The problem: prices are steep. To rent the M4A1 - which is a different weapon from the Training M4A1 - for three days, you’ll need 6,000 of the in-game currency, while a permanent purchase costs 144,000. I earned around 100 credits from my matches, so there’s definitely a need to play a number of hours per day just to continuously rent a gun.
The prices also hamper the fun of customizing, with the M4A1’s scopes costing at least 6,800, although at least that gives you the part permanently. The main silver lining is that there are weekly free items that give you some other guns to play with while I haven’t encountered pay-to-win elements, but I do hope that the developers reduce the grind.
Of the modes, the co-op defense mode stands out the most, and is the only one that is exclusive to Psionic Mode. Players defend a generator from waves of zombies - including some special versions - in a small space, and the continuous stream of attackers coupled with players unleashing their Psionics to eliminate groups of enemies result in uncontrolled mayhem. The size and simplicity of the sole map ruins doesn’t inspire me to come back often though.
Other than that, you can find modes like Team Deathmatch, Free-for-All, Domination, Team Survivor, Search-and-Destroy, Duel, Capture the Flag and AI Team Deathmatch. Nothing special, and Team Deathmatch and Search-and-Destroy are naturally the most popular ones.
Line of Sight uses the Unreal 3 engine, and I find the aesthetics - which are a bit more vibrant than I expected - to be appealing enough to exceed my modest expectations. Some textures will disappoint upon closer inspection even on High settings, while the visuals and animations definitely have a free-to-play vibe to them, but I'm fine with them. If it were a western developer with a presumbly higher budget, I'd expect more.
The only other noteworthy thing about Line of Sight - other than the messy and cluttered UI that justifies the UI hint function - are the characters, but they only fulfill cosmetic purposes. Each has stats for things like body protection and speed, but the only difference I can find is that the female characters have slightly lower speed values, for some reason.
Line of Sight calls itself “Bioshock(tm) meets Call of Duty(tm) in a multi-player game”. That's easily an overstatement, and the game description itself literally calls it as such. Line of Sight is nowhere near as grand or ambitious as that suggests and its “innovative systems, such as detailed character and weapon customization”, are nothing new - Blacklight Retribution did the whole free-to-play weapon customization back in 2012. But it’s fun and the cost of entry is free; that’s good enough for me for now.