I've always been open minded and on the look out for good gameplay. When I first started Quake way back I was a NetQuaker (NQ). Even today if you go into CRMOD which is the major competitive mod for NQ and type in qwsucks in the console it responds back to you with various things such as, "Are you listening id?". In short the NQ community was very close minded and anti-QW. I believed them for a long time. QW was the devil.

Yet as is my nature I eventually over came the NQ's community attempt at brain washing the players and discovered QW is great. I even played Q2 CTF a lot and enjoyed it thoroughly. Q3 not so much. By that time I had gone back to QW TDM and Doom 2 CTF and those remained my staple FPS for a long time. I'm just covering some of my personal FPS history here to prove I'm not some gameplay ideologue. I always strive to look for good gameplay.

Reflex has been on Steam for one year as of today. It is in many ways the best hope to recapture the games I love in a modern form. Yet it is hard not to be worried about Reflex one year in. Engine and technology wise I feel Reflex is doing quite well and have almost nothing to complain about. I even get a solid 120+ FPS on my Geforce 560 ti. The graphics have taken a while to find their footing but even those now are quite excellent. So then what is the issue? Gameplay and content.

A good example of how Reflex is lacking goes to the core of project. Reflex heavily depends on their community for content; mainly maps but UI scripting is mostly a community affair too. In many ways this is a catch 22. It is great the developers have given the community such leeway in the project but it also feels like the developers have grown entirely dependent on the community as well.

I was very hyped for the recent CTF mode in Reflex. I thought this would be what opened the flood gates for a larger player base. Yet there was a big problem. CTF only came out with one map, CTF-Monolith. Love or hate it releasing a new mode with one map is a horrible idea. One only need look to Toxikk to see what one map releases can do to a game. Maybe in six months or a year Reflex will have a good variety of CTF maps (and no I'm not interested in fucking remakes!). Having such hype squashed and having to wait such a long time for a decent variety of maps is a horrible predicament for Reflex.

I think the gameplay problems go deeper however. Playing CTF I quickly became frustrated with the map which I thought was overly complex and anti-pub fun. When you have a super passionate highly skilled user base designing all your maps they don't always tend to be great fun in a pub game. Say what you will about id's maps but they usually were relatively simple and designed for the average user. By comparison Monolith and Sabflags (the two CTF maps in release now) are a pain to move around on and designed too heavily to counter swooping. A bit of swooping actually isn't bad for pub play.

Playing CTF brought more gameplay issues to the fore again. I'm still shocked one year in Reflex has no real ammo system. At this point I'm not even sure they mean to change it. This is quite worrying because there are many different ways to go with some type of ammo system and it adds a load of depth to the game. Serious TDM will never happen without a good ammo system.

Another annoyance which reared up quickly in CTF was how many weapons are needed on maps since there is no ammo system. On Monolith there are 3 bolt rifles (aka rail), 4 shotguns, 4 RLs, 2 ion cannons (aka LG), 2 GLs and 2 PGs. With such a massive amount of hitscan the map is then topped off with carnage power up (aka quad). Ugh.

It also was frustrating having to wait a long time for CTF maps to reload upon map end. I had thought loading times had been 'fixed' but again it appears to be an issue. Related is the fact servers can only hold 16 players and many CTF servers are smaller than that. I miss the days when I could sit on a large QW server and hang out with the community playing countless pick up games. In Reflex this isn't possible when servers are all 16 or lower client limit.

Reflex can't break from the CPM past it shares. While it has differentiated itself somewhat nothing I'd qualify as major changes have happened. There is the controversial duel timer and some other changes like a stronger SG or the triple jump but nothing which breaks or significantly alters the game from CPM. Many would argue this is not a bad thing and I would actually agree. The problem is if you are going to do what essentially is a remake every other part of the game needs to be superb. Languishing for CTF maps and seeing people porting over remakes is a sad situation to be in.

What do I expect out of Reflex in another year? I'm not sure to be honest. With Overwatch looming and many other great games to play I'm beginning to lose hope in Reflex. Things are just taking too long and the gameplay is not advancing. Even players who I've played dozens of hours with in Reflex seem to share my sentiment. If I go to the Reflex Steam store page the top two positive reviews I see are people I have friended on Steam. I've bought copies of Reflex for friends and spent ~200 hours playing it. When I ran a Reflex TDM league I got to know various players and from time to time, often in the early morning, people will PM me on Steam and we'll chat. Most remain hopeful but it is hard not to see reality and wonder if Reflex isn't the savior we thought it was.