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Blacklight: Retribution servers shutting down next month

Free-to-play FPS Blacklight: Retribution is pulling the plug on its mostly-empty servers on March 11th, so say developers Hardsuit Labs via Reddit. The cyberpunk team shooter had a good run, first launching in 2010 as the commercial Blacklight: Tango Down (and the developers were called Zombie) before rebooting as Retribution in 2012. For its final month on PC (the PS4 version is still safe), Hardsuit Labs have made all items its premium store free. I might just get some folks together for one last stomp around in its deliciously powerful mech-suits.

For those who never got to try Blacklight: Retribution, it was a fairly standard Call Of Duty-inspired team shooter with a couple twists – powered armour and wallhacks. The former were called in using resource points, though the other team could counter them by spending some cash on anti-tank weaponry or flamethrowers to cook the pilot while leaving the suit intact. They were delightfully powerful things – Titanfall before Titanfall was a thing, and could reduce squishy un-armoured players to a thin red mist with a burst of minigun fire or a railgun slug.

The other twist to the game, and what made these roaming killbot players less menacing than they might otherwise be, was your augmented reality visor. At the cost of lowering your gun for a moment, you could spend some of a recharging power gauge to see what’s on the other side of walls. If you timed it right, you could have a perfect shot lined up before your opponent even knows there’s someone else in the building. It also helped you stay out of the sights of lumbering armoured players. It’s a dynamic that worked well, and matches were fast and frequently rewarding.

It was one of the better free-to-play shooters of its time. While the business model was occasionally questionable under publisher-at-the-time Perfect World, folks seemed happy with it. Sadly, player counts never grew after launch, and it slowly bled out. I’m curious how the PS4 version is holding up (it doesn’t rely on Hardsuit Labs’s infrastructure, so is still up for the forseeable future), but I’ve a suspicion most players have moved on. It’s sad to see another game put out to pasture, but at least this one had 7 (or 9, depending on how you count) good years.

Blacklight: Retribution is fully free (no longer just free-to-play) for its final month. You can grab it here on Steam before the neon city lights go out on March 11th. Hardsuit Labs are apparently still kicking, and have some projects in the works that they’re not quite ready to show yet.

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