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GTFO Preview: No-Nonsense Online Co-Op Challenge

GTFO is a challenging co-op shooter that requires strategy, communication, and forethought. You are likely to have to repeat levels and learn them as much as you can if you expect to come out alive. If you're looking for a stroll in the park, you better look somewhere else.

GTFO Preview: No-nonsense Online Co-op Challenge

Developed and published by 10 Chambers comes a 4-player cooperative experience named GTFO. Or should I say came? The game was released in Early Access all the way back in December 9, 2019. It was even nominated to the “The Best Game You Suck At” award in the Steam Awards 2020.

The Early Access is meant to be used as a testing ground for the developer to hone out the little details and to be able to shape the overall experience into what they’ve envisioned. The game is planned to leave Early Access in 2021.

GTFO is available on Early Access on Steam, for $34.99.

GTFO - World Premiere Gameplay Trailer | The Game Awards 2017

STORY – Less is More

There isn’t much depth or detail to the story in GTFO, and frankly, that is not a bad thing, since the focus of the game lies primarily in its gameplay and ambience. Additionally, 10 Chambers do have a wiki for the game’s lore, but they warn that the current information is not guaranteed to be correct or remain relevant. We’ll have to wait for the official release to get a set story. It is also worth noting that the story is told by the character’s you play as you progress through the game.

We also have to keep in mind that the game is still in Early Access, and that also includes the story and lore. Nothing is set in stone until official release.

What we do know at the time, and trying not to get too spoiler-y, is that the game is about 4 prisoners that are deployed into an underground facility known as The Complex to perform various missions.

The flashlight takes some getting used to

The flashlight takes some getting used to

The Complex seems to be some kind of abandoned research facility of enormous proportions that extends far and wide beneath the earth’s surface. The prisoners are given their objectives by an entity known as The Warden, who seems to be the one maintaining the facility.

It is unclear if The Warden is a person, an AI or something else entirely.

Navigating the facility is challenging, as there seems to have been some sort of breach or accident creating a variety of beings, the most common of which are called Sleepers. They are sensitive to light at all times and sensitive to noise when they are pulsating. They can be found scattered here and there, sometimes there’ll be a handful of them, and sometimes there will be way more. If the team is not careful, lucky or both, they will be overrun quite easily. Whether the Sleepers and other creatures were human at some point is a mystery, but they are humanoid.

Each time the team goes down to the Rundown, they will have a different mission that must be completed before The Warden sends an extraction.

Getting up close and personal

Getting up close and personal

Gameplay – Work Together or Die Together

GTFO’s Gameplay is where the bulk of the work into this game has been put into and it shows. How easy or hard your run is will be dependent on a few factors, some of them are in your control and some of them aren’t.

Each level has its own map and distribution, and this doesn’t change. If you die and want to retry the same level you can do it and the level itself is always the same. What won’t be the same is the loadout. This means that every time you go in, Sleepers and other enemies will be located on a different location and different number. So you are not likely to find the same item in the same place two times in a row, and even if you do, the number of uses you get from the item may also vary.

The way you and your team are able to communicate and work together will play a huge role on how easy or hard the run is going to be. The Gameplay feels centered on having to work together and communicate as a team, and not charge blindly against even the most basic of enemies. While the same can be said about other co-op games, not that many accomplishes to actually force you to play as a unit quite like GTFO does. If you are fending off a large wave of attackers and one of your team mates falls, it’s very likely you’re all going down.

Originally the game didn’t have matchmaking, so you had to have a group of friends to play it with. That removes the surprise factor of not knowing whether or not your team is capable, if they can play as a team or not and so on and so forth.

Sleepers are light-sensitive, so flash carefully

Sleepers are light-sensitive, so flash carefully

With the addition of the Matchmaking feature, which to this day remains in Alpha, you can now get matched with other players. The options for the matchmaking are great, since they do let you tune it to what you want to play. You want to play a specific level? Checked. You want to play any level that you have unblocked? Checked. You want to be the only one that can speak during the run? Checked. You want to search for players on your native language? Checked… with a caveat.

While this feature is in the game, and you can choose from a lot of languages, I didn’t have any luck getting a Spanish speaking team, and always played in English. Still, is a nice feature to have and hopefully it will pick up once the player base grows. It is a nice touch that the game offers an option to search for lobbies in two languages, a primary and a secondary one.

You don’t have to have 4 players for a team, so you can go down with 1 or 2 other friends if you feel like it. You can even play it by yourself if you feel like it, although you cannot pause the game even when playing alone. Do be advised that the game does not change difficulties based on team size and the number of enemies is still randomly generated (for the most part), so going in with anything less that 4 is likely to fail. Hell, even a full 4-player team is likely to fail.

Don't alert the Sleepers if you can avoid it

Don’t alert the Sleepers if you can avoid it

The game offers some help to the team in the form of different items with different functionalities. You will have to communicate and cooperate to determine when to use a particular item and what is the most appropriate time to use it and who will get the item in order to benefit the team the most. In the same vein, you’ll also have to cooperate and coordinate to kill as many enemies as you can quietly, as to not attract the horde, plus you’ll likely not have enough ammo to blast your way through the entire level anyway. 

One may say that most of the gameplay differs from the trailer in the sense that it’s not quite as action-packed and there is a considerable amount of planning and sneaking around. This can either be enjoyable or quite a drag depending on your team and how patient they are. Even getting ready for alarm-triggered doors where you can expect waves of enemies to fend off need to be carefully planned, specially considering that there is friendly fire in the game. Spray and pray is a losing tactic in GTFO.

If you want to play with a controller (although this is a shooter so I’d assume this would be for a smaller percentage of players), you can. With some caveats. The game automatically detected my Xbox controller, but the automatic mapping seems off. for some reason I had two shooting buttons (R2 and R3) and I could not figure out how to crouch at all. You will very likely need to map it to get it working adequately, but really, the game is meant to be played with a Keyboard and Mouse. Some of the mechanics like using the terminals demand it anyway.

You can tell Rudra is just braver than me

You can tell Rudra is just braver than me

Graphics And Audio – The Devil is in The Details

GTFO is not excessively demanding graphic-wise, but it will most likely not run on a lower end PC. For context, my friend was playing it on a laptop with a GeForce 930M but had to tweak the graphic settings down and it was reeeally pushing it. So if you’re not sure if your system can handle it properly, use that mark as a minimum. Anything over the 930M’s performance (which is a 2015 card with 2GBVRam on DDR3), should give you decent performance. I was playing it on a simple RX 570 with no issues at all.

Beyond the technical part of it, the 10 Chambers does a good job of setting the atmosphere of a research facility where something has clearly gone wrong. Abandoned labs, research terminals that you can still use if you figure out the know-how, industrial looking boxes and lockers where you can find the items to help out your team. It does makes you feel as if you are in this suicide mission to complete a mission inside The Complex.

The game loads while you are dropping with your team

The game loads while you are dropping with your team

It also pairs very well with the Audio of the game. You can expect minimal ambient music and lots of ambient noises. And while some of the noises can sometimes appear without any apparent reason, such as listening a Sleeper where there aren’t any around, it still helps create this dense atmosphere around you. Playing this game with the lights off and a good headset is definitely recommended.

My only caveat with the Audio is that the characters have their own dialogues that get triggered when you run into enemies and it sometimes gets in the way of listening to your team members. It is even strange the first time you’re playing it because you do not see it coming and it can be quite sudden.

I was half-expecting the Sleepers to hear you or your teammates when speaking, like other games such as Phasmophobia does, but that is not the case. While that was originally a bit of a let-down for me, it actually turned out to be nicer that way. Without that feature you can actually talk and chat with the other members of your team at your leisure. Still, if that was an option I could toggle or turn on, I would use it sometimes to make it even more challenging. Not that it needs it.

GTFO was reviewed on PC via Steam, product key we provided courtesy of 10 Chambers. 

Summary
GTFO is an amazing co-op experience. You can tell the focus of the game is for you to adventure with your friends and 10 Chambers does force you to implement effective teamwork if you expect to last and survive the fights. While you can die relatively easy when getting surrounded, that is part of the charm. Like I said at the top, this game is no stroll in the park, and I loved that about it.
Good
  • Challenging and fun
  • Great co-op experience
  • Satisfying feel when improving
  • Really forces strategy, communication and forethought
Bad
  • The menus UI could be improved, not too intuitive at the moment
  • Can't build a partial party and then fill it with random players via matchmaking

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