Friends vs Friends Review
November 29th, 2023
You’ve heard of boomer shooters, right? Well, I think we have a new genre with this one: zoomer shooters.
Friends vs Friends is an online PVP shooter, but also a card game, leading to some pretty frenetic, chaotic gameplay; managing your cards, playing them at strategic opportunities, playing countering cards against what your opponent(s) play all while jumping around like crazy and shooting at enemy heads.
The game oozes with style and the art, sound, and design aesthetic are all top-notch. The mashup of chonky retro graphics with dismembered, gored anthropomorphic animals is striking, to say the least. I think it’s meant to be cute, fun, and friendly, but due to the skill ceiling and ranking system, it can get a bit heated and competitive.
A game like this lives and dies with its player base and balances its online play with skill-based matchmaking. The trouble with that in this case is the lack of players leading to sometimes very unfair matches. Because of this dynamic, I often let my opponents win a few times just so they wouldn’t run away, and so I would have an opponent for more than a single match. That’s only a side effect of its current state though. I’m sure this was less of a problem when the game was a bit more populated. As a reference point here, I played at a time when around 100-300 players were on at any given time.
Given that the current state of the game matches you against some less-than-desirable players, it’s quite surprising how playable the game is versus people who are not in the same region as you. The game will of course match within your region, but will branch out over time if your wait is too long. The net code is quite good, although the hitboxes tend to get a bit wonky when the latency gets high across the players. I think it’s more forgivable due to how chaotic the combat can be sometimes. Still though, de-ranking to somebody because somebody kept shooting you through corners and walls can be frustrating… not that rank even really matters especially when gold-ranked players can go against brand new players.
There’s plenty to do here with seemingly every expansion and update adding more things to collect (skins, card backs, avatars), new cards, and characters with daily/weekly quests. After 40 hours in, I still have yet to unpack every card (curse you RNG!). It’s a shame the game is kind of forced or pigeonholed into being a PVP game. Paradoxically, I think adding more single-player content into the game to explore everything here would bring in more players even if it would go against the very name of the game. There are bot matches, but most reward mechanics are disabled there and the bots are so bad you need to try to lose, even as a new player.
I think one of the biggest downfalls of the game currently is the performance. Don’t let the retro-inspired graphics fool you. This game maxes out my 3070 with ease on the lowest graphics settings possible. The only way around this is to play at non-native resolutions or limit the max FPS to less than my monitor Hz is set to (144 in my case). If this is improved, the game would be much more accessible and possibly bring in new players.
Some of the combos can leave you with a bad taste in your mouth and will make you feel not very friendly at all. Those who save up their hot potatoes, garbage piles, and barbed cards will have some frustrating moments when they are more focused on card management than actually shooting. I may concede that is probably the intention or design, but in particular, some combos feel a bit unbalanced… *cough* akimbo *cough* any weapon… They also lead you to use those particular combos and likely scare off other new or old players never to return.
Overall, it’s a great game with lots of love and countless more hours for me to enjoy; however, it has some serious, but fixable flaws.