Friends vs Friends Impressions: Just One More Pack

I stare at a burger joint wedged between a laundromat and some seedy business called Cash’s Corner. It’s worse for the wear. The “E” that once stood at the end of the COFFEE 24HRS sign has fallen onto the eatery’s red-and-white awning — where it has likely sat unnoticed for some time.

Neon chalk outlines of animals and other, less distinguishable, figures drawn by youthful artists adorn the pavement and a carefree acoustic tune sounds in the background. It’s worn but Friends vs Friends‘ central hub feels oddly homey.

Walking towards the diner’s battered doors, I cross paths with an alligator wearing thick-rimmed glasses and a pink shirt tucked into too-high pants. An option to switch characters pops up as I get near — a choice that also appears as I walk by a punked-out cat and a duck sporting a letterman jacket.

Though you can choose your character with the click of a button in-menu at any time, the little parking lot nexus is filled with fun in-game ways to access every part of the experience. A table tucked into the back of the diner bedecked with colorful cards lets me manage the weapons and abilities I can use in a match. The greasy spoon’s proprietor turns out to be a quest giver. And hidden down a questionable staircase in the back of a bathroom you’d never want to use is the shop/gun range. Because, of course it is.

But the bulk of the game takes place in murderous matches. I can choose to jump in to a 1v1 or 2v2 match, though I found the higher numbered option takes longer to fill up than I like. Starting a game, I have a few seconds before the proverbal greenlight to look through my hand.

Some cards manifest guns — I prefer a sniper rifle when possible but the boomstick is typically the most useful in the game’s relatively small maps. Others have abilities that help me or hurt my opponent. I can remotely poison my enemy for a while to lower their health or put on a helmet to decrease headshot damage. Strategically throwing these down can make or break a match.

The gun fights don’t take long, with a winner crowned after winning three bouts. But win or lose, I walk away from every session with more money and experience. Leveling up grants me rewards like card packs and new characters to try out. The first new fighter I gained access to starts with a nice gun, which makes victory that much more attainable. And I can spend the cash on new booster packs.

I appreciate that pulling duplicate cards is designed to be useful. Instead of cluttering up your collection, any copies go towards leveling up the cards themselves. For instance, I nabbed a few extra Med Kits and the amount of health the card gives me when I play it went up.

The combat itself doesn’t rival other competitive shooters, but it isn’t trying to. The point of the game is wacky reversals and unexpected hijinks — like hitting the world with a nuke and revealing a whole new level mid-match. I hope to see more maps and other content soon, however, as there’s not a lot of depth to this vibrant PvP at launch.

Friends vs Friends is best played with, as the name suggests, friends. It makes for a great game night or party game and it can be difficult to walk away if I see I’m just shy of earning a new card pack or gaining a level.

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