LoadoutAt first glance, it’s easy to dismiss Loadout as a mere Team Fortress 2 clone — and developer Edge of Reality says that’s OK. The developer’s strategy is to do the game right so that players will gravitate to it, even if they have seen this kind of game play before.

“Borderlands, Team Fortress, League of Legends, Super Monday Night Combat. These are games that we think are really great, that have pieces of what we wanted to do,” Loadout creative director Mark Nau told GamesBeat during a demo at PAX East. “People have seen the game and said, ‘This looks like Team Fortress on crack.’ We’ll take that. We’re totally cool with that characterization of the game.”

Loadout is a multiplayer shooter that takes pride in not taking itself too seriously. It’s over-the-top violent but cartoonish, like an episode of Looney Tunes directed by Quentin Tarantino. Blow off an opponent’s head and they will comically feel around the jagged stump before dropping to the ground. Blast someone in the leg and you’ll melt the flesh from their bones. Shoot a teammate with a healing gun and syringes full of green glowing goo will stick out of their back like porcupine quills. It’s obvious a lot of care went into the game’s character animations, which Nau said are meant to be wacky and unrealistic.

“We felt if it was too gritty, that kind of visually communicates the wrong message. The game is about having fun. It’s about doing whatever crazy thing you want and having fun with that.”

Doing whatever crazy thing you want is also Edge of Reality’s philosophy when it comes to Loadout’s main feature: weapon crafting. Every gun in the game has various parts, such as a stock, chassis, scope, projectile, trigger, and barrel, that can be swapped out to fashion whatever tool of destruction your heart desires. New parts, along with character customizations, equipment, and accessories, can be earned by leveling up. Nau said the team is constantly adding new content all the time and will continue to do so after launch.

“As you go up levels, as you do challenges, you will get toys out of our toy box. We’re randomly assigning them to people, making sure they have enough toys to play with, making sure they can make different guns,” he explained.

Balancing a game around so many variables can be tough, but Nau said the studio is constantly collecting data during closed beta and is making sure that every weapon part has a trade-off. “We’re going to be aggressively changing numbers to try to bring the balance into some sense of normality,” he said. “That said, we’re not super worried about it because there’s a ton of trade-offs, there’s a ton of pieces, and I think there’s a lot of room for different types of weapons and different playstyles.”

LoadoutLoadout will be free-to-play when it launches on digital distribution service Steam later this year. It will offer microtransactions, but Nau stressed the game won’t be “pay to win.” If you have your eye on a certain weapon part, you can buy it, he said, but a player who doesn’t spend a dime will still be able to experience everything the game has to offer in the long-haul.

Although Loadout is currently a PC exclusive, Edge of Reality plans on porting the title to the Mac as well. The developer is also in talks with Microsoft, though Nau said it’s not clear when the Xbox 360 will be ready to support the free-to-play model. “We gotta sort that out. We plan on eventually releasing on every console that can take this game.”