App Review: Gamerlink

WHAT UP INTERNET?!

If you’ve been perusing this website for long enough, you know once upon a time your Bro was hardcore into Destiny. Once upon a time (as we only had five regular TruBros clan members) we’d need to peruse the DestinyLFG.com site to secure a full-squad to tackle raids, or simply pick up an extra member when taking on the weekly Nightfall raid. Although the TruBros ranks have swelled since this time and we’re never short of players now, the Bros tell me they still use this service sporadically.

The Gamerlink app seeks to fill this need on mobile not only for Destiny, but many titles which feature both cooperative and competitive gameplay, such as The Division and Halo 5.

Disclaimer: the gamerlinkoverwatch account reached out to me directly on Instagram and asked I scope out their creation. I told them as long as I could share my thoughts with you Bros here on TruBros.com they had themselves a deal. Considering the app isn’t too shabby, if y’all want to partner/sponsor a Bro…you know how to find me. I’m all about that #ConLife and #NerdLife, you know.

I spent approximately a week using the app and since I’ve just recently got back into Destiny, one of the Bros and I used it when we were in need of some support for a Nightfall raid. One sentence review: although the app is still in beta and as a result the user base isn’t very large (thus limiting its effectiveness), it works well, has a clean UI and fills a very specific need for gamers.

My Gamerlink game library

My Gamerlink game library

If you’re a solo Bro-or simply don’t have a large number of Bros who play the same games as you-odds are you’re going to need to team up with dreaded “randos” at some point or another. Titles such as The Division and Destiny place their best endgame content behind team-based experiences, and competing in PvP matches is always easier if you’ve a squad to back you up. Gamerlink seeks to make this experience as seamless as possible. After signing up for your account, entering your PSN and XBL info and adding the games you play to your library, you’re able to both answer and send “beacons” players post. Once someone responds (or you answer a beacon) you’re sent their account info (XBL or PSN tag) so you can quickly shoot them an invite and hop into the game.

The entire process is easy to pick up once you spend a minute or two browsing it. The app is extremely intuitive. The UI is clean, simple and a refreshing change of pace from the clunky forum-based interface of pretty much every other website which offers a similar service. The clean and succinct UI means browsing for teammates while your game loads up is easy and painless-a Godsend when you’re trying to maximize your amount of time spent in-game. The ability to automatically filter by console (although DS is conspicuously missing and is a console which could really use Gamerlink!) means gamers don’t have to worry about being matched with Bros they can’t play with.

Each game also has a tab labeled “Discussions” which is a unique way to get community talk going about a specific game. Although the Gamerlink community is quite small at the moment (and thus searching for teammates or looking for in-depth discussions about specific titles can take some time), I see great potential in this particular tab. I’d imagine the app can be expanded to include single player games which don’t necessarily need matchmaking, but foster intricate discussions such as Fallout or Mass Effect. Although Mass Effect 3 did contain a multiplayer mode which could have greatly benefited from an app such as Gamerlink, the “Discussions” tab could eventually serve as a hub for gamers to discuss their favorite titles. Additionally, I’d imagine if Gamerlink grows to include single player focused games with a multiplayer component (ex. Mass Effect, Metal Gear Solid, Dead Space), it’d be the only service on the market which assists this specific niche of gamers.

Since the app is still in beta there is tremendous room for improvement, which Gamerlink seeks whole heartily. Not only did they reach out to your Bro via Instagram (AND FOR SOME REASON I AIN’T LISTED UNDER THE STREAMERS TAB!), they also solicit feedback via the main menu. To me this implies the development team is determined to make the best app they possibly can, and as such I’ll callout some of the suggestions your Bro and crew have come up after spending some time getting to know Gamerlink.

My main dashboard

My main dashboard

The main dashboard-which I’d assume would be customized based on the games I’ve added to my library-appears to be populated by all posts on Gamerlink. While this makes sense considering the community is still growing, seeing multiple posts for The Division, Call of Duty and Star Wars: Battlefront when I’ve only Destiny and Halo 5 as soon as I log in just means I need to click through multiple menus to get to what I’m actually interested in. Having each user’s dashboard populate with beacons consisting of only titles in their library seems like an addition which will come down the line, as right now it’s not particularly useful.

The inability to filter also extends to specific games. For example: when examining beacons gamers have posted on the Destiny page, you see the “Feed” which is sorted by most recent posts. If you’re looking for a team for Trials (PvP) or to Raid (PvE) there’s currently no way to sort. That being said, I completely understand why this is currently missing during the beta: not only does each title (potentially) have PvE and PvP game modes, but there are multiple game types under these two banners. Perhaps allowing streamers/partners/specific-verified-users to edit game modes under specific games (such as each game type in Destiny) would be a way to take some of the burden off the Gamerlink team but still maintaining a semblance of order, and prevent irrelevant or spam from being posted.

The “gamers” tab under a specific game simply lists all the players who have added the title in question to their game library, which doesn’t appear particularly useful. As players are primarily matching with one another via beacons, this tab simply provided superfluous information. Perhaps this space could be utilized as a base-sort between PvE or PvP game modes? While hashtags are a generally accepted workaround on multiple sites, this space could be utilized as a filter-perhaps by auto-populating hashtags used frequently in conjunction with a given title? I leave the ideas to minds much savvier than my own!

Destiny dashboard

Destiny dashboard

The message function-while extremely concise when someone responds to a beacon-is not particularly organized for engaging with multiple friends. While you’re able to send direct messages, unless you’re following a specific streamer (and you’re not able to categorize yourself as a streamer, because y’all know your Bro is) you’re unable to create “discussions” which facilitate communication between multiple users.  Once you follow a streamer (which I did to see how discussions work) I was unable to unfollow them, which seems like a feature which should be included. If streamers (or users) are able to create multiple discussions which can essentially serve as “channels” or “chat rooms” this would greatly enhance the ease with which streamers are able to engage with their communities.

The last curious omission from the app is the inability to add games to the app’s library. I’d imagine this was intentionally left out in order to keep things organized, however I was unable to locate a match for Battleborn as of 5/22 when the title was released on 5/3. While Overwatch is present prior to the launch of the title (on 5/24) having certain titles missing does limit the potential usefulness of the app. Perhaps a workaround-such as having partners or certain users with special roles assigned by Gamerlink create placeholders for games which can then be verified-can be implemented in order to rectify these issues.

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The notifications you receive when you’ve posted a beacon (Shout-out to awesome follower BraveProgram for the screenshot!)

The Gamerlink app beta is off to an amazing start, in this humble Bro’s opinion. As someone who absolutely, positively cannot stand looking for randos, the Gamerlink UI makes the process as simple and painless as possible. While certain advanced features may be missing at the moment and the community is still growing, the consistency and ease of which Gamerlink solicits feedback raises my hope for what the app can eventually become. As a fairly new streamer who broadcasts regularly and is still in the process of building their channel, I’m interested to see what potential the app holds. I regularly flip between my browser, Discord, Twitter and Reddit while gaming, and if Gamerlink can integrate with (or cut down on the need for) multiple applications, that’s a win for gamers everywhere.

Depending upon the goals of the Gamerlink team, I can see the app eventually serving as a unique, all-in-one blend of Reddit (for game discussions), Discord (for chat and engagement between streamers and their communities) and sites such as DestinyLFG (to find people to play with). At the very least, Gamerlink makes one of the most painful things of online gaming (finding a squad) easy peasy. Once the community grows, I can certainly see this app replacing many websites which serve a similar function, based solely on the fact it’s mobile and looks good. Until next time, Bros!

(Disclaimer: Banner image stolen from official Gamerlink website: gamerlink.gg. All other photos screenshotted from app)

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