Hands On With Blacklight: Retribution For PlayStation 4

A major part of the PlayStation 4’s launch and this coming generation is Sony’s willingness to work with free-to-play titles. Early on, this will tend to be ports of existing games, as we’ve seen so many times with Sony’s indie game venture too, and Blacklight: Retribution is just such a game.

These free-to-play games will certainly serve to bolster the PS4’s launch line up, and without the barrier of money having to exchange hands, they will surely get a lot of downloads as people want to explore the system beyond the handful of launch games.



At first blush, Blacklight looks like a fairly straight up sci-fi online first person shooter, but there are a handful of nice twists to the formula which should help keep things fresh and interesting.

On the battlefield, the biggest element is the HRV – Hyper Reality Vision – which gives you the ability to see the location of every objective, every enemy and every friendly on the map. Thankfully it’s limited to a few seconds of usage and you cannot shoot whilst using it, but even that is enough to transform the gameplay.

Instead of running around a map aimlessly, you can use the HRV for a second or two to quickly scope out the state of play, and get right into the action, whilst leveraging the tactical advantage you just got.

Playing on the PS4 version of the game, in a team deathmatch against AI certainly made things quite interesting for me. This was so totally unlike playing against real humans, as the AI would use the HRV, find me and head straight to my location.

It was quite hilarious how I would see a line of bots coming straight for me, gun down 2, 3 or even more with a string of headshots, and then get shot in the back by an AI which had started on the other side of the map.

It actually played really nicely on the PS4, with Zombie Studios porting across Unreal Engine 3 for themselves, and easily achieving 1080p with 60Hz. It’s nice and smooth, and was just as detailed as the PC version could be.


Aside from the HRV, the gameplay is roughly how you would expect. In the fight, you’ll have a primary weapon and a secondary weapon, with grenades and a host of extra abilities to leverage from the on-map depots.

Customisation is, of course, a big part of the game, with each weapon incredibly modifiable from muzzle to ammo to stock. Every little change affect the weapon’s stats, and this also extends to the character customisation.

Here, the big stat changer is going to be the armour, which isn’t just a cosmetic modification, but will change your character too. There is the nice touch of including MOBA-style taunts, letting you use voice packs and emotes to bring your enemies on… or look really stupid when they kill you.

However, to get a real leg up, you’ll have to visit the depot on the map and grab the extra abilities, using the Combat Points you’ve earned that match. These could be turrets or airstrikes, but there’s even a katana and a big mech-like Hardsuit, which will really let you dominate the enemy with its railgun and minigun. The inventory of the depot, however, is up to you, and another part of the character customisation.

This is all backed up by real money, as with every other free-to-play game. You can earn points by playing the game, or choose to pay to unlock items for 1 day, 3 days or more, up to owning the weapon parts indefinitely.

It’s an interesting model and lets items retain premium prices whilst also giving people a way to jump in and quickly gain the temporary use of better equipment. Thankfully, points are awarded for almost all actions within a game, so it won’t necessarily be the best killers who will have the best gear.

Having had just a little taster of the game on PS4, I decided that I needed to hop into the game on PC and see what the real gameplay is about when playing against humans.

I found myself just about able to break even with my kill:death ratio in the handful of matches which I played. It did take me a while to get acclimatised, and it was still surprisingly easy to die before I could react, but even with the starting gear I could compete.

The best thing I discovered, was the ability to pick up the weapons of a fallen player. In doing so, I could ditch my standard assault rifle, and get a gun with a better sight, less recoil and so forth. It was with more advanced players’ weapons that I feel I did the most damage.

At the same time, using the HRV and playing quite methodically also reaped its rewards, and I was able to get a few kills like that, too.

It’s a solid core of gameplay which will work well when transposed to the PS4, and it sounds like Zombie Studios have had a really good time working with Sony. They’re able to live outside of the PS+ pay wall for multiplayer gaming, and the ability to self publish right from the off has allowed them to just get on with it.



  1. I’ve played this on PC and enjoyed it quite a bit. Looking forward to trying it out on console just so I can see it looking a little prettier than my PC can pull off.

  2. Free to play games are a great way to get folk to try a game, and I don’t mind paying for some of the developer’d hard work if I like it. But they can end up costing you a lot more than a retail version of the game, but at least you get the choice.

  3. “This is all backed up by real money, as with every other free-to -lay game.”

    Awesome typo! Hahaha. I know a woman like this.

    • Trust you to spot that one!

      • My eyes are tuned for potential smut. :-)

        Nice write-up, though, fella. Not sure it’ll be for me – looks mental and the whole online aspect has me flaccid.

        Right! I’m off to spoil other places online.

  4. I’m not really interested in f2p games but this looks alright.

  5. I plan to give this a try, and no danger of feeling won’t feel burnt If I don’t like it.

    “with Zombie Studios porting across Unreal Engine 3 for themselves, and easily achieving 1080p with 60Hz. It’s nice and smooth, and was just as detailed as the PC version could be.”

    Well that’s a far cry from PS3 which struggled with UE3 games and performed slightly better on the 360. Good news.

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