Deathloop is a fantastic game, but there’s one element that’s just kind of there — the player versus player combat.
Every time I start Deathloop, I’m given an option. I can either try to break the loop as Colt, or protect it as Julianna. This is an intriguing premise. While the game’s other antagonists are all locked into the same routines and schedules, Julianna is free of the cycle; she’s controlled by a human player I cannot predict and sometimes cannot outplay. But the execution of this executioner is just so-so, and it stands out like a useless appendage in an otherwise spectacular experience.
When playing as Colt, you can toggle the possibility of Julianna invasions on and off. If you kill an enemy Julianna, though, you get extra loot out of it, so it’s worth your time. It’s also fun when a friend invades your game, because you’re locked into a personal battle with someone you know, so there’s novelty to it. It’s fun to mess with your friends — at least for me, a monster — and it’s nice to have that option in an Arkane game.
But as a whole, the multiplayer mode doesn’t really offer much beyond that novelty. As Colt, Julianna doesn’t follow the same rules as the other Visionaries, and while that’s the point, it breaks me out of a good flow and forces me on the back foot. I can take out NPCs with a few sure machete hits. But Julianna can seemingly tank them with ease. I can be on a total roll, going through a fantastic loop, and then Julianna shows up, ganks me, and then camps my sweet corpse full of tasty residuum.
As Julianna, this lack of depth can be a little more frustrating. When I first saw the Deathloop trailer where Colt shoots a gumball machine, sending the spherical sweets everywhere and causing an Eternalist to pratfall, I got really excited. Running and gunning are cool forms of combat, but what I really wanted was to set up a Rube Goldberg-style murder trap as Julianna and ensnare my friends in some tricky bullshit. But I can’t trick the other player as much as I’d like.
Deathloop’s combat is great against Eternalists and Visionaries, but not so good against another human being. I haven’t experienced a lot of depth, nor have I felt like a particularly skilled assassin on either side. It’s nice to be able to make my friends sweat by invading their games, and I love Julianna as a character. Every time she radios Colt, I sit up and pay attention. I just wish her in-game presence in the multiplayer was a little more satisfying.