While multiplayer brawler Gang Beasts has enjoyed success in the living room since its Early Access release in 2014, fans have been clamouring for a way to throw their more physically distant friends into meat grinders and off oil rigs via an online mode. Boneloaf have finally begun to implement such functionality in Gang Beasts Online Beta, and we’ve had a chance to check it out in its current state.
For those unfamiliar with the game, Gang Beasts pits you and up to three friends against each other in brutal fights to the death across a variety of stages with some comically clumsy controls: Everything has notable delays due to a heightened sense of weight, leading to much amusement when you time a jump wrong and wind up falling to your demise or jump around swinging your fists as though they were anvils. While this may sound like a criticism, it really isn’t; it’s by design and adds a hilarious layer to what would be an otherwise unremarkable game at the cost of any real sense of competition, at least in its current state.
The addition of online multiplayer allows for this madness to take place across the globe, and our time with it showed that Boneloaf have a good grasp on how to achieve that. There is very little lag, even on US-based servers, and jumping into a game is as easy as bringing up a list of active matches and simply joining. While we did have trouble actually finding one at times, that’s down to the game currently being a beta rather than any lack of interest from the game’s audience. The only real problem so far is that there doesn’t appear to be any way of joining a friend’s game from within Gang Beasts itself, though that might well be handled via Steam. We had no friends with beta access and thus no opportunity to try it, unfortunately.
Not every map from Gang Beasts is in the online beta yet, but hopefully they’ll be added upon completion. We only saw three maps in our time with it: A subway, a factory full of meat grinders, and two lorry roofs on a motorway. While the first two of these were fine, the motorway level needs key changes before release for a few reasons. At some amount of time into the match, the lorries will begin speeding toward signs that will knock off any players standing on the lorry, but it can be avoided by lying down on the car itself, resulting in the matches slowing to a crawl as remaining players lie down for thirty seconds or so to ensure their safety, and then continue to avoid the next ones. This just turns into a battle of patience in which the first player to give up so they can move to the next round is punished. Players can also hang off the side or back of the lorry to avoid the signs, and then they’re stuck in a battle of who can hang on the longest as jumping back onto the roofs is too risky. It just seems like a misguided level in terms of design, so hopefully it will be fixed or removed from the rotation by release.
Despite that one misstep, Gang Beasts‘ addition of online multiplayer looks promising and seems set to inject the same hilarity into our networks as it has our sofas. Though playing online with strangers probably won’t catch on due to the lack of friendly banter that really makes Gang Beasts complete, the ability to throw your friends abroad in front of a train should have your teamspeak servers and Skype accounts buzzing with activity.