Whether you’ve heard of Spanish studio MercurySteam or not, there is no denying you’re aware of their previous masterpieces. From the eerie domain of Clive Barker’s Jericho, to the magnificent Castlevania: Lords of Shadow series, you can be pretty sure that if MercurySteam have had something to do with it, then it’s been a top title. So, when I was given the chance to jump into the closed beta of their latest title, Raiders of the Broken Planet on Xbox One, I knew it wasn’t one to be missed.
Gameplay takes place within a number of missions in which players are grouped together via matchmaking. Each game pits players in 4 vs 1 asymmetric multiplayer missions. The team with four players, known as the Raiders, work together against the enemy Antagonist and the accompanying bunch of A.I. enemies whilst trying to complete various objectives.
When selecting a mission, players are able to choose which type of player they would like to be, with Antagonist missions separate from Raider missions. Once your choice is made you follow onto a character selection screen. The majority of my time with the beta saw me take on the role of the Raiders, whom have up to sixteen different characters available, although the options were heavily limited during my time with the game. The character you choose will depend greatly on how you wish to play the game, with each option having their own distinct weapons to fight with. My choice came down to Harec simply due to my love for Sniper Rifles, as she seems to be the Sniper/Stealth specialist within the game.
As well as their own unique weapons, each character has a set of abilities that can be swapped about to help build a character that fits your style of play. With lots of options available, it’s fair to say that with just five players in each match, you’re probably going to end up with a semi-unique character when you jump into a game. Given that I was using the Sniper, my favourite ability quickly became the one that saw my weapons reload much faster. Of course, with each character possessing very different loadouts, the abilities you get to choose from will depend on your choice entirely.
After characters are chosen it’s time to jump into play. Each mission loads up with a rather spectacular looking cinematic to let you know what’s going on, and it’s worth mentioning that the voice acting and animations are amongst some of best I’ve seen in some time. As for the gameplay itself, there is very much a Gears of War aura to the movement and combat style in Raiders of the Broken Planet. Many would probably attribute this to Gears of War being possibly the biggest third-person cover shooter on the market, but there is enough here to make this game feel unique, whilst still retaining the perfect combat and movement that we’ve seen over the years with the Gears of War franchise. In fact, if I’m completely honest we may just have a game that makes third person combat feel even more fluid than the any of the big AAA titles on the market, which is certainly something to pay attention to given that we’re only now in the beta stages.
When you combine this with the truly beautiful visuals of the detailed sci-fi world, you quickly get a sense that this could be one of the most interesting of the upcoming games. As I mentioned previously, MercurySteam are the same guys behind the exciting Castlevania: Lords of Shadow titles, and you don’t have to look far to find more of the unique and detailed structures and enemies within Raiders of the Broken Planet.
One thing that did take me by surprise however was just how difficult the game could be. Of course, this is something that will likely depend heavily on how skilled the players you’re up against are, and given that I wasn’t the greatest player this could well be a factor. Nevertheless mistakes can quite easily lead to you and your fellow raiders heading swiftly back to the main menu.
Gameplay on the whole is rather enjoyable, and if the current cinematics are anything to go by, then the full game should have a story for us to get lost in. Something that will need sorting however was how long it takes to find a group of players. Again, being a beta there is every chance this could be due to a small number of players at present, but finding a match was something that took way longer than most games, which could very well be enough to turn those away who want to get things going with friends. But we’ll see how that goes in the weeks ahead.
Raiders of the Broken Planet may not be the most well known title on the market, but early signs are certainly promising. With the same level of polish maintained upon release, we could be in for a treat with a truly exciting multiplayer title that is well worth picking up. With gameplay highly reminiscent of the Gears of War series and a sci-fi world that begs to be explored, this is certainly one that I will be keeping my eye on, and I recommend you do too.