Discord Review: Chat & Social App for Hardcore Gamers

Though Discord is popular among the gaming community yet you may not have heard about it in case you’re new in the gaming world. As it’s specially optimized for gamers, Discord is much more than usual chat platforms like Facebook Messenger and Microsoft Skype.

Being an occasional gamer, I wasn’t familiar with Discord until I heard about it from some of my gamer friends. And after I came to know and use its features, I became one of the fans of its social communication features that take your gaming experience to the next level.

Are you thinking about what’s in Discord for the gamer in you? Come on, let’s know more.

What is Discord?

Discord is an online voice and text chat application for gamers. As a gamer, you can chat and talk to your gaming partners in real-time while playing the multiplayer games — be it online or over your local network. And my experience says that it’s way better than the games’ built-in chat options.

Just like any other chat application, users can start using Discord in a few simple steps. You only need to log in, add your friends, join a chat server, and start chatting with your friends. You can also use the invitation code to invite more friends.

Discord is developed to replace the other VoIP programs that gamers usually use to chat while playing games — especially online multiplayer games. It lets you send direct messages to others and even chat in large groups, making it suitable for multiplayer games.

Advantages of Discord

Discord offers a beautiful Slack-like interface with rich-text support including images, GIFs, videos, and files. Moreover, the software is as easy to setup and use as any other VoIP app in the market, and if you’ve used Slack, then you’ll find yourself at home.

There are lot more reasons to switch to Discord. Let me tell you one by one in detail.

Create/join servers

Discord allows you to create or join a server. A server on Discord is like a community of like-minded gamers having common interests to follow and talk about. For example, a public server of “Counter-Strike” attracts people interested in playing Counter-Strike.

You can create your own server if you wish to have a private community. After your server is created, you can invite your friends by sharing the server’s invite code. In the same way, you can join other servers, i.e., using the server’s invite code you wish to connect.

From the right panel of your server’s dashboard, you can view the number of online users in your server. And you can also view a person’s profile and mute, deafen, or mention him in the conversation. Moreover, you can view/set role and permissions of any person.

Discord's server dashboard

In a server, if you have permissions, you can also add text or voice channels. A channel in Discord is like a group of gamers to talk about a single topic. For example, a text channel named “CS Cheats” is best for reading or sharing Counter-Strike cheat codes.

As you may have already understood, a voice channel is for group voice calling and a text channel is a group conversation box to share texts with everyone. Surprisingly, Discord allows to create or join and chat on unlimited number of servers without any limitation.

Beautiful interface

Discord has a modern interface lets you switch between channels, add mentions and hashtags, and upload game screenshots into your conversations. You can embed almost all media types directly in the chats — even the popular GIFs. You can include emoticons as well in the chats.

Mentions and hashtags in Discord

Its interface helps you easily share images, videos, files, and links from your desktop or mobile. The application is frequently updated to bring new and improved features from time to time, for example, better chat interface, more emojis, support for larger groups, etc. And did I forget to tell Discord is completely ad-free?

Discord's Slack-like interface

Essential features

Discord offers powerful features in a simple interface. It lets you add friends using their Discord tag which is similar in format to Twitter’s hashtags but is limited to four characters in length. It also shows friend suggestions based on your registered email address.

You can also add friends individually and message them outside of servers. You can even block direct messages from unwanted people and Discord automatically hides their messages in the servers.

Discord's safe messaging options

The app’s dashboard displays online, pending, and blocked contacts in different tabs. Whenever you receive a message, Discord sends you a push notification so that you can instantly know who sent what. Moreover, you can start a voice chat with an individual or in a channel as easily as pressing few mouse clicks.

One of my favorite features is its in-game overlay, which lets you view who is talking in the middle of your game, just like Facebook Messenger’s Chat Heads. Moreover, you can adjust the volume, change servers or channels, and do more without leaving your gameplay. The overlay, however, requires its Windows Client, DirectX 9 or above, and OpenGL.

Discord's in-game overlay

Security features

Discord app auto-encrypts chats and other data, and even protects your IP address, unlike major VoIP solutions. Its backend server runs with DDoS protection and features automatic failover mechanism which works to upstart the app in case of server issues. Also, in case of a server failure, Discord will auto-switch to a new server to prevent data loss.

That’s not all. The app packs in lots of privacy and security features. In server’s settings, if you’ve permissions, you can set anyone’s and everyone’s roles and permissions.

Manage permissions in Discord's server

High performance

As Discord is specifically designed for gamers it makes the least impact on your CPU, and thus doesn’t affect your game’s performance (i.e., highest FPS rates) — allowing you to play seamlessly. Moreover, Discord servers are distributed around the world and thus, you can select and connect to your nearest server to enjoy a fast experience.

Discord gives highest FPS on voice chat

Its native app doesn’t require special drivers or complex configuration, thus it takes just a few minutes to set up. Due to its low requirements, you can also run it in your browser. And its simple interface makes it light enough to run on mobile devices as well. That being said, it offers native apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android as well as iOS devices.

Discord's Android app

Also, you’ll be surprised to know that its voice quality is so clear that you can even hear the slightest incoming sound. That’s also because Discord is built with noise suppression, echo cancellation, and lot more features.

Disadvantages of Discord

Though Discord is full of features that gamers enjoy to their fullest yet there are some things that can be added or fixed in it.

Interface can be made easier

Although Discord has a pleasing interface, it still is a bit difficult to use. I found few options presented in such a way that can confuse the users — especially the newbies. Therefore, I think the developers need to work on its interface to make it easier and more minimal.

Features can be added

As a gamer, I hardly video call anyone as it causes performance issues, but there are times when I wish to show off my gaming skills to a friend. At that time, I miss screen sharing feature in Discord, and if I skip this missing feature, Discord is a must-have app for every gamer.

Bugs need to be fixed

Sometimes I tend to hear robotic and distorted voices, which is probably a consequence of the clash between Discord servers. It gets solved if I connect to a different server or location and then switch back. Though it’s not a major issue yet it would be good if it gets fixed.

Built only for gamers

Since Discord is focused towards gamers, it encourages fewer people to join its platform than its rivals like Skype. But if you ask me, I think it’s good because this way I can keep game chats (often violent, mature or offensive ones) on Discord and have regular conversations on other solutions. This way, one won’t mix conversations, and thus no wrong texts.

Discord vs. others

To help you understand Discord’s feature more, I have created a comparison chart to help you understand the similarities and differences between Discord and its two biggest rivals.

Discord Skype TeamSpeak
Communication Free Free
Friends list Yes Yes
Push notifications Yes Yes
Multiple channels Supported Supported
Modern text chat Yes Yes
Direct messaging Yes Yes Yes
Video calling No Yes
Screen sharing No Yes
Invite friends Via web link Via email
Automatic failover Yes
Support for server Yes Yes
In-game overlay Supported Supported
Codec Opus SILK CELT, Speex, Opus
Min. CPU usage Yes Yes
Freeware Yes Yes Yes
Mobile app’s cost Free Free Paid
Protection IP and DDoS protection IP protection only
Browser support Supported Plugin required
Native apps Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Amazon Fire,  Windows, macOS, Linux, TV Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux

Final thoughts

Discord is built for the 21st century gamers — bringing a gamut of functionalities in one app. Unlike the tedious chat interfaces, Discord helps to manage conversations in servers and channels along with numerous customization options to suit your needs.

That being said, I feel Discord is built for every gamer. And if you’re a gamer and you haven’t tried out Discord yet, then there’s no reason to wait anymore. Come on, register here for Discord and start connecting to and making new friends to play online games with.

And if you’re already on Discord, share your experience with us. It’s easy too — just write a comment below to let me know what you feel about Discord.

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