In the competitive FPS scene, there seems to be a distinct lack of casual multiplayer options for friends who want to blast each other. Save for private Call of Duty lobbies, your best bet for playing a first-person shooter with friends would be queuing up together in something like Apex Legends or Fortnite to take on strangers. Fun, sure, but not what everyone is looking for, especially for a group of friends looking for a casual experience. These online matches tend to be absolutely infested with sweaty players.
That’s where Friends vs Friends comes in. Friends vs Friends is a brand new multiplayer first-person-shooter from developers Brainwash Gang, a team I’m unfamiliar with but who’ve made a big first impression with this title. The goal behind Brainwash Gang in making Friends vs Friends seems to be to make a game that serves as a fun, competitive FPS title you can play casually with the homies on game night, and one absolutely jam-packed with style.
In terms of gameplay, Friends vs Friends is a 1v1 or 2v2 arena shooter with solid gunplay mechanics and a decent variety of weapons. Players fight until the best of three in a fairly tight space, with two maps available at the time I got to play. The lack of any real “camping” opportunities along with the small area and the fairly high health pool and long TTK (that’s time to kill, for the non-FPS players) means the game incentivises an almost Borderlands-like run-and-gun combat style, with long extended trades and lots of movement around tight corners.
I say Borderlands because playing the game reminded me the most of my years and years of playing the four mainline Borderlands titles. The incentive to keep moving and trade shots with the enemy without hugging cover was a nostalgic kind of FPS experience for me. Longer TTK in shooters is something I’ve come to appreciate, thanks to the hours I’ve spent mowing down giant boss health pools with my assortment of Pandoran arms. The ability to confidently take bullets and dish them back is something missing from a lot of modern shooters, even in games like Apex Legends which wants to incentivize long fights.
Friends vs Friends’ unique art style helps with the Borderlands comparison, featuring thick outlines and a gritty, warm, urban comic book style. The whole game feels like a brawl in an early 90’s Los Angeles. It has an almost nostalgic feeling with the decidedly unique setting the developers have chosen.
Getting back to the gameplay, one of Friends vs Friends’ biggest mechanics is deck building. Yep, deck building. At the start of each round, you’ve given a random hand of cards from a player-constructed deck. Using these cards can do anything from giving you a new, permanent weapon for the rest of the round, throwing a landmine, shrinking your head’s hitbox, or blocking the enemy’s next card. The variety of cards is pretty crazy, and not all of them benefit the player. You construct your deck outside of matches, and new cards can be gained through booster packs.
The game features a pretty diverse cast of characters in the way of animals with their own unique personalities and senses of style. Picking a character is more than a looks game, however, as each one has a unique ability they bring into a match, ranging from doing extra damage to having a guaranteed card draw each round. You start with a cast of four playable characters, with the rest being unlocked by leveling up.
The matches in Friends vs Friends are low stakes, fun, and just long enough to keep the fun going without feeling like a drag. The game strikes me as a great party game for a group of friends over a Discord call to jump into and play a few matches, allowing friends to engage in some FPS shenanigans without any of the grind or competitive features in a lot of online shooters. Just a fun, quick time that won’t (or at least shouldn’t) leave anyone frustrated or sweaty.
You don’t need a group of friends to play, however. Friends vs Friends features an online matchmaking system for you to shoot it up with strangers, perfect for grinding out some bucks for booster packs. There are also offline bots, but I found the AI to be pretty bad at navigating the level. They’re good at shooting, though. At one point during a bot game, I got killed about halfway into a round, and the AI players were unable to find each other, leaving the round to go on way longer than it feasibly should have. Personally, I would skip out on the offline mode and focus on the game’s PVP play.
All in all, Friends vs Friends is a solid FPS game that’s light on competitive features, forgoing ranked climbs and sweaty mechanics so that players can get right down to what they want to do most: shoot each other. The mechanics are fun, leading to long kill times and features that are as competitively viable as they are silly. I can see this game being really popular with casual shooters, but it also holds merit as a competitive game. It is a PVP focused experience, after all, and is without a doubt one with great and unique chances for skill expression. If you’re more into games like Apex Legends or CoD, Friends vs Friends can also serve as a great chance to train your aim against real people without getting immediately got.
The Final Word
Friends vs Friends is a solid multiplayer shooter with a ton of style with a focus on casual pvp. Casual players as well as sweats should find plenty to enjoy in this funky deck building shooter.
Try Hard Guides was provided with a PC review copy of this game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! Friends vs Friends is available on Steam.