Time-looping murder puzzle Deathloop sure seems like it’s worth putting on repeat. For all the usual action romp reasons that Arkane are good with, but also for some of its sillier bits. Kicking baddies off ledges sounds like it’s the real backbone of Deathloop’s comedy. Colt has one damn powerful boot and, according to a new chat with Deathloop director Dinga Bakaba, it’s all thanks to Arkane’s choice to scrap most of their melee combat system. Here’s why Colt traded arm day for leg day.
In a new chat with Noclip, Bakaba talks about how drastically Deathloop’s close-quarters combat changed during development. Deathloop originally borrowed Dishonored’s melee system, including parrying and blocking with Colt’s machete.
Things got hairy in multiplayer though, where latency between players made careful timing feel all wrong. That latency wasn’t so noticable with bullets, but frustrated playtesters attempting to parry, Bakaba says. He likens it to Dark Souls, which he feels players are more willing to accept, but just didn’t work in Deathloop.
So Akrane booted timed parrying. Then they pulled out blocking too. “So we said fuck defense,” Bakaba says. “Let’s just replace defense with the kick. Like a big kick that makes you go ‘oof‘.”
Bakaba says that players were more accepting of trading hits with kicks in multiplayer than they’d been with timed blocks and parrying. Thank goodness, because what a good kick it is.
Down here in RPS’s Deathloop gameplay video, Brendy Caldwell says that the kick is his favorite part of the game. “The designers really want you to kick people,” he says, explaining that goons are often hanging about in spots that are just begging you to put a boot on their rear.
“There are also moments of slapstick in the brutal action-hero antics,” Brendy further explains in his Deathloop review. “You might kick a guy into a harbour as he plays guitar, or send three machete-wielders flying with a well-placed proximity mine. This is a shooter with stealth elements, rather than an immersive sim with guns”
With a kick that good, it doesn’t seem so bad that well-timed machete melee got the boot.
By the by, Deathloop’s multiplayer is swell as well, even if it did lead to the demise of more tactical close combat. Jeremy Peel says that Deathloop’s invasions are a zero-sum mind game that he can’t stop playing.