E3 Hands-on – Gearbox’s Project 1v1

One of the most curious surprises from this year’s E3, Gearbox Software’s (currently named) Project 1v1 is an interesting approach to multiplayer-focused PC shooters. Clearly inspired by older shooters like Unreal Tournament, both in gameplay and level design, the game’s main selling point is the fact matches are always centered on one player fighting against another player. No 64 players at a time, no team deathmatches. As the title suggests, it’s 1 vs. 1.

I have managed to play the game for around half-an-hour (and countless rounds) at a private appointment at Gearbox’s room during E3, and I have to admit, I did enjoy what I saw. I did see a lot of potential in what they’re creating, but with a few concerns.

The gameplay is great. The game is extremely fast-paced, just like an old Unreal Tournament, the matches are very quick, the respawn times are nonexistent and the few weapons I could test were diverse, balanced and fun to use.

Just like older Unreal Tournament games, there is no aim button, there’s no auto-healing (you can heal by picking up health icons scattered throughout the stage), and there are lots of traps scattered throughout the stage, such as pits. The level design is creative, even though I have only managed to play on three different maps. Besides your two weapons, you can equip yourself with different perks, such as an ultimate rocket attack and an extra jump. Whenever you use your special moves, you need to wait for them to recharge. You can also pick up a card icon to get an instant recharge. From what I could play, Project 1v1 looked promising: a nice throwback to simpler, arcade-oriented shooters, with a lot more emphasis on chaotic fun than realism.

Project 1v1 Screenshot 2_preview

With that being said, I still have a few concerns about the game.

One of the main concerns is regarding waiting times. As previously mentioned, the game is based around 1 vs 1 matches, meaning that everyone else in your room needs to wait for quite some time before being able to play the game. Depending on the amount of people inside your lobby, you’ll have to wait for up to 15 minutes in order to play a 5 minute round. The game automatically shrinks its screen size during the waiting moments, most likely in order to let players mind their own business surfing through the internet or doing something else on their PCs while they wait for their turn.

I feel some balance needs to be made regarding it, with multiple duels happening at the same time, in order to keep people busy. That’s also a great way to promote championship creations. I don’t know if Gearbox has this plan in mind, but I really hope they come up with something like this when the game finally comes out.

Speaking of which, I still don’t know how the game will be marketed as, and neither do the developers. The game is filled with different weapons, perks, abilities, all of them being shown as cards. You need to assemble a small deck in order to create a loadout. These are my questions: will the game be F2P? Will it be a paid title? How will we get new cards? Are they going to come in loot boxes? Will it feature microtransactions? I know the game is still in its early stages of development, and I see a lot of potential in it, but it all depends on how it will be marketed. I know other modes will be added to the final product, breathing some fresh air into Project 1v1 once it’s out, so that will also be a plus, or at least I hope so.

All in all, I can say I was positively surprised with Project 1v1. It can turn into a multiplayer staple, a nice alternative to e-sports and a nice throwback to older FPS multiplayer. As long as they figure out how to make people less annoyed with the game’s long waiting times and also depending on how the game will be marketed as. The game won’t come out anytime soon, but we should all keep an eye on it. If done right, the devs can certainly polish this rock into a nice diamond.