Hoverloop Preview

Hoverloop

Hoverloop is a Multiplayer Arcade Arena Combat game from the Belgian Indiedeveloper “Not A Company”. It only just released on Steam in Early Access* but will eventually also make its way to the Xbox One platform.

*if you hurry, you can pick it up for cheap this week

I’ve had the privilege of testing multiple builds of the game over the past few months as I’ve gotten to know them a little better and we even had an interview with them recently. The game is not quite ready yet to be reviewed properly but I figured a preview couldn’t hurt to inform those who are still doubting about its strengths and weaknesses.

Graphics

Visually the game is very pleasing to look at! I was especially impressed by the clean looks and lighting effects in some of the levels.

lasers

It’s not often you see an Early Access title with such a level of visual polish. Though I still feel there are some quick touches that could be made to refine it even more. Luckily it’s still a work in progress so anybody can leave feedback on the game and those suggestions may all be applied. Here are some of my considerations:

ammo en UI

the roomba of doomba

Once you’ve picked up a weapon, there is not enough visual information telling you exactly which one you’ve got equipped. Sure, the weapon on top of the both changes, but because they often don hats or have detailed designs, it’s not immediately apparent. My suggestion would be to have a different icon for each ammo-type and show this clearly next to the amount of ammunition left (in the picture above, this is visible on the center-bottom to the right of the green bar)

Similarly I would have also made the weapon pick-ups even larger and maybe visually show the weapon instead of the ammo type there. Just like the old-school FPS like Doom or Quake handle it.

text

you eh, you’ve got a squid on you!

The drones themselves and the levels look great, but the text that appears when you kill enemies or the text present in the User Interface looks too bland. Like a default font was used. A custom font or something with a bit more impact to it would go a long way to increase the overall presentation quality.

hockey

What the puck?!

The lighting effects are consistently pleasing and you can definitely tell the main developer had a background in practical effects. My only real complaints about anything that has to do with the visual aspects boil down to User Interface. There are many different available game modes (of which I think the air hockey one has a lot of potential) but they should each have a different UI. The screen above has no real need for your health or the number of kills, only the score and your ammo is important.

Audio

Hoverloop has quite a few tracks that I enjoy. I can really dig the drum ‘n bass and dubstep types of songs and it’s immediately exhilarating once they come on. Having a good score can really set the proper mood when you’re playing a fast-paced game like this one.

One thing I’d fault it for on the audio front is that I sometimes had the menu music playing during actual gameplay. Luckily you can press the D-pad up to switch songs, but I feel like such a track shouldn’t be heard during action moments.

Another thing I’d liked to have seen would be more commentator feedback. Having a lot more spoken lines of commentary would drastically increase how epic a game can feel. It also opens up some doors for potential comedy. Just imagine playing the air hockey mode and hearing “Puck me!” when your opponents score a goal. Or “All puckered out…” if you get stunned.

I can still vividly remember the voices from Quake and Unreal tournament and how they managed to keep me pumped to play more. I think similar lines would work perfectly here.

Gameplay

Hoverloop has many different modes and each one can be enjoyed as a multiplayer game. Not just online but also in local split-screen. Something more developers should start paying attention to again.

split screen

the more the merrier…

It’s best experienced when playing with people on the couch next to you, as you’ll have instant feedback when you pull off an impressive kill-streak. Playing it on my laptop (with not even enough USB ports) I didn’t get to experience it myself, but I can definitely see this being a major selling point for the game once it’ll be available on Xbox One.

There are plenty of different modes present and even more are being worked on, so you shouldn’t grow tired of it too easily. Competition wise I especially see a lot of potential in the Air Hockey mode if it gets more fleshed out. I think this will really be a blast to play with 2 against 2 if you have some friends over. The different drones’ special abilities could each play a role in securing a victory and there might even be pickups at some point that alter how the game is played. There’s already a random trigger than spawns multiple different pucks on the field at once and it’s all hands on deck when this happens.

There are of course also the standard fare modes like Deathmatch and Team Deatchmatch available as well. In them it’s especially the loose concept of gravity that makes Hoverloop play a lot different than similar other games. A few jumps and you’re up in the air and suddenly a very hard target to hit.

Airborn

Death from above

It’s something you’ll need to get used to though and the camera might make you a bit motion sick if you don’t stick to the floor enough. But once you’ve mastered the extra dimensions, you’ll be a force to be reckoned with. It’s especially satisfying if you double jump off a ramp and then slam down on an opponent while activating some spinning lasers around you.

The Power level of some of the weapons still needs to be balanced. Some of them can’t kill quite fast enough while other weapons can One Hit KO you and feel a bit like cheating. (Death laser was Overpowered when testing)

As said earlier, the many different modes will keep you occupied for some time. And there are even more in the making. The Obstacle course seems especially challenging (but I wonder if I’d have the patience required) but what I tested so far wasn’t in working order yet.

obstacle

One thing you may find strange however is that you’ll have to choose a different build of the game through Steam if you want to play offline (vs AI or split-screen) or online (vs other opponents) but this is caused by having two different people coding. Not a big issue, but worth mentioning as you may find yourself confused if you buy the game and the Online Multiplayer doesn’t seem available to you.

Playing against someone on the other end of the world can also result in some lag as there aren’t dedicated cross-continental servers yet, but additional funding could resolve this issue.

Final Word

Considering that it’s an Early Access title and built by such a small team, Hoverloop seems like it has a lot of potential already. There is still plenty of room for improvement (mostly on the UI front) and some minor bugs to work out but this could become a great game to play online or to enjoy on the couch with friends. I personally think it would feel right at home on a console and I’d love to review the final product on the Xbox One someday.

If you’re at all interested in Hoverloop after reading this preview, be sure to check it out while it’s still cheap (only $7.50 if you pick it up this week!)

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Robby Bisschop
Belgian, male, born in 1987
I love videogames (mostly RPGs), anime, movies and Magic The Gathering.
About the author

Robby Bisschop

Belgian, male, born in 1987 I love videogames (mostly RPGs), anime, movies and Magic The Gathering.