Raiders of the Broken Planet – review

  • Format: PC, Xbox One (Reviewed), PS4
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Mercury Steam
  • Developer: Mercury Steam
  • Players: 1-5 (4v1)
  • Site: http://www.raidersofthebrokenplanet.com/
  • Game code provided by PR

Raiders of the Broken Planet is interesting. It has a somewhat awkward take on third person shooters, and it’s also mashing together free-to-start and episodic business models. It’s trickling out new sets of missions episodically, but focuses on replayability much in the same way that Left4Dead or Payday 2 does. The thing is, its ideas don’t mesh well yet, and it’s also got 4v1 gameplay that doesn’t feel rewarding for either side.

You play as a ragtag group of Raiders, and you’re out to save the world. Each character plays hugely differently with their own stats, play styles, and weaponry that’s all unique to them. All the characters are surprisingly fun when you play in co-op mode and have to play to their strengths; single-player feels quite the opposite for most characters, since the levels are clearly focused on being co-op experiences.

Obviously some people will still want to play solo, and the game will reward you for that to an extent. Each difficulty level for a mission rewards you with gold when you complete it the first time; so after you’ve done them all once, you’ll have go online to get more rewards. Unfortunately, gold isn’t used for unlocking all that much; so you’ll need to go online for character and faction points or weapon blueprints. You have to choose a reward at the end of a co-op mission but, if someone else wants the same reward, you have to split it equally with them. Or if it’s a weapon blueprint, one of you will get it, the other gets nothing. Just in case you missed that – NOTHING.

So co-op is where you’ll spend most of your time. Well, at least when you can find a game to play. It’s not devoid of players exactly, but trying to get a match on some levels left us relying on secondary entertainment during the sometimes excruciatingly long wait times (which is less than ideal).

When you do get to play though, the combat is… really weird. A good sort of weird, but it doesn’t quite feel right. Attack, grab, and dodge make up the melee rock, paper, scissors system that’s at work here. Grabs are instant kills but can be interrupted by attacks, and sometimes by being shot. Dodges get caught by grabs, but give you advantage against anyone who missed their attack on you. It’s fairly simple to use and it’s fun against the grunts but, in some situations, it feels like you get a pretty raw deal since the elite enemies are also capable of instant-kill grabbing.

The instant kills don’t feel fair, especially so when you’re set upon while in an injured state. When you hit zero health you don’t die, you go into a state of injury rather than being downed or killed. However, you can’t escape grabs or elite melee attacks. You can fight back with melee swings or shooting less effectively than usual, but you can’t dodge or walk at any speed other than “hobble”. You can still take quite a beating in this state before you die but if you catch your breath, preferably while up against a wall, you’ll be right as rain in no time.

This ties into the Aleph mechanic which is basically a magic substance that explains why you have super healing, weird abilities, and why you can see enemies (and they can see you) through walls. A bar shows you how much Aleph is showing up in your system and at what point enemies can see you through walls. Running increases Aleph flow, as does shooting or using abilities. Each character has different levels too; so some might be able to run without being discovered, while others will be quickly seen as soon as they move. You also can let this bar decrease to let your stress levels go down, which starts health regeneration.

It all creates this atmosphere where you can survive relentless ranged attacks, but getting up close offers a significant chance of instant death. We find it all so polarising. On the one hand you’re able to deal with severe punishment over and over again, healing up through almost insurmountable pain – and bullets – but a few unlucky hits or a grab in melee and you’re dead in seconds.

Then there’s 4v1, this weird mode that occasionally takes place, and you can’t opt out of as the Raiders. However, you actively have to choose being the “1” – or, more accurately, the “antagonist”. The antagonist’s sole duty is to wreck the game for everyone else; they are essentially griefers. The way this tends to play out is that you’re just lengthening the game for both sides. Regardless of who wins the Raiders aren’t really rewarded much more than they would without playing normally and – arguably – having substantially more fun. If the antagonist wins, then they get points towards climbing a leaderboard showing off their bastard prowess. Losing nets them a big ol’ hunk of nothing.

Perhaps we already sound a little down on the game. We are. The game itself can be fun, but a lot of what it wants you to do isn’t. Episodic content with the first two levels free is actually very good as the rest is reasonably priced, so push that idea right out of your minds. The issue is actually the frankly ridiculous grindy nature of the game and 4v1 being so incredibly boring for everyone involved that isn’t an arsehole. Choosing to split rewards and having a good chance at getting nothing just makes so many matches feel like a complete waste of time and effort. It has huge problems, but it’s interesting, even fun at times; and we want to see more of it once they’ve solved some of its issues.

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I’ve done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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