Coming to PC Early Access soon and consoles in 2022 is Space Punks, the latest looter shooter vying for your attention. This time, it is Flying Wild Hog’s turn to develop their own title, the teams responsible for the Shadow Warrior series and Hard Reset Redux. With their pedigree of making fast-paced shooters, and with the power of Jagex Partners backing them up, Space Punks could well be your next favourite time-sink.
Jagex Partners are the publishing group of Jagex Limited, legendary British developers behind the likes of RuneScape. Jagex are bringing their multiplayer acumen to the table here, giving Space Punks the best possible opportunity in this hotly contested and congested genre.
At first glance though, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a new Borderlands game. Space Punks is a sci-fi looter shooter with a cel-shaded aesthetic, but rather than being first-person, it moves the camera to a more isometric point of view. As there is a massive emphasis on cooperative play, this perspective allows players to keep a closer eye on their punk buddies.
Don’t worry though, it is still entirely playable in solo play.
Perhaps knowing they are entering an ever-filling market, Space Punks will be launching as a free-to-play title. There will be microtransactions available along with battle passes when the game properly launches, but these will only ever include cosmetic items. These can be new skins for characters, companions or new entrances when landing in a new zone and more.
At launch, there will be four punks with whom you can “rip space a new one”. They are: Duke – the handsome alpha male; Eris – not the sort of person you want to double cross; Finn – an anthropomorphic boar not unlike Pey’j from Beyond Good & Evil; and finally Bob – the galaxy’s baddest bug.
Each character has unique abilities and will be better equipped in different situations. Their abilities can be buffed by the others too: Duke for example works best when paired with Bob or Finn, receiving bonuses from teaming up with them and working in collaboration with their strengths and weaknesses.
These are just the first of many characters to be released for Space Punks – expect many more down the line.
During a recent developer presentation, we got to actually see how Space Punks will play. Flying Wild Hog are aiming for five key features in Space Punks: Endless Arsenal – of both melee and ranged weapons; Limitless Power – more loot and progression than you will ever need; Share the Glory – Space Punks is best enjoyed in multiplayer; Not Heroes – your playable characters aren’t famous space pirates, yet just regular folk trying to earn a living; and Brilliant Galaxy – a lot of thought has gone into the setting, story and overall lore for Space Punks.
The mission we saw was a boss battle against a frog/lizard-looking enemy called a Jearbear. It isn’t simply enough to fire your weapons constantly at the boss, even though it was a bit bullet spongey from what we saw, as there will be adds to deal with. Killing the boss also grants one reward, but many missions will also have bonus objectives to complete for even more loot. In the Jearbear’s case, there were multiple enemy hives that could also be destroyed; these are not necessary but destroying them will make you and your fellow Punks’ lives last that little bit longer.
Attacking or shooting enemies will also pop-up funny cartoon-style “POW”s or “SMACK”s like you’re watching classic Batman TV episodes.
If you miss a bonus objective however, missions can be repeated at any point and with a higher difficulty should you choose.
Completing missions will also reward you with Fame Points. Considering Space Punks isn’t putting too much emphasis on levelling yourself up to the teeth over other players, the Road to Glory is likely where you will see the most benefit to consistently playing. This progression system will reward you with loot but also unlock extra features back in the hub area, known as Devil’s Gambit.
The Punks did have some downtime though after defeating the Jearbear and we were briefly shown Devil’s Gambit. As well as being able to store your weapons, armour and shields in your personal vault, you can visit the Enhancer who is able to upgrade your character with an impressively large skill tree.
It isn’t just yourself you can upgrade, as Space Punks will also feature a robust crafting menu to make mods for your weapons and items. Find the right blueprints and materials to be able to craft whatever it is you need to give yourself the edge.
There is always a risk launching a new “live-service” title nowadays, considering the glut that are out there, but Space Punks going free-to-play right off the bat means it is giving itself a fighting chance. When it launches on consoles in 2022 it is certainly one I will be diving into. Let us know in the comments whether you will be too.
Huge thanks go out to Flying Wild Hogs and Jagex for inviting us to their Space Punks presentation.