There were quite a few brand new IPs being presented at PAX West this year, but not many from the bigger studios. Most of them had new titles of their popular IPs, but THQ Nordic had something entirely new at their booth, Biomutant. While I was scheduling my appointments for PAX this trailer came up in my email. . .
I was certainly intrigued by this world and this sword-wielding, gun-toting, mutant trash panda. I was glad to add it to my appointments list and certainly looked forward to it. I immediately had fun in the character creator, allowing me pretty open control over height, weight, fur color, features, etc. Nothing too extraordinary, but definitely enough to make me feel like my little mutant was my little mutant. The end result was a tall, lean, bright purple and pink critter with crazy fur sticking up all over the place. In other words, amazing.
Upon creating my little masterpiece, the game starts. I’m given a few on-screen prompts and immediately put up against a large and looming familiar face. It dawns on me that something really cool is happening. I’m actually playing my way through the trailer that got me excited about this game in the first place. After escaping into the darkness of a cave, I’m treated to new content; from here on out I’m embarking on new territory. I encounter some hostile creatures and am given prompts for combat. Stringing melee and gunplay together is easy and seamless, and performing special attacks/combos is satisfying.
Combat is comparable to Assassin’s Creed, Shadow of Mordor, and the Batman Arkham games. Leaping around smacking enemies, changing targets on the fly, dodging attacks, and of course shooting. I genuinely felt like a badass, being the main character in one of my favorite martial arts movies.
After a little while of getting used to the controls, I was able to explore the crafting system. Even at the beginning of the game it looks like it will be a fairly robust system. These changes are seen on the weapon during gameplay, which is pretty cool to see. After getting a quick introduction of the story and some more complex combat, I was treated to my first shot of the open world that lays beyond the introduction.
Then it was over.
Aside from one hiccup in my experience that wasn’t related to the game, where the entire computer crashed and shut down completely due to overheating, I was impressed. Looking to be next year’s Horizon Zero Dawn or Breath of the Wild, with its own unique flavor. BioMutatant has some clean-up, but a solid foundation has been laid and it will only go up from there.
BioMutant‘s visuals are detailed with a flair of painterly brush strokes mixed in. The result is certainly unique and was a lot of fun to play in. Even in the short amount of time I was playing, I saw a few different types of environment and enemies, all of which looked distinct. Things were easy to distinguish from one another and felt like they were all a part of the same world.
One thing I really like is the use of color of in BioMutant. They are vibrant, well placed, and have a wide range. This really helps the different areas feel distinct from one another. Surprisingly the bright colors don’t cause the game to stop looking like a rundown, apocalyptic future. This is the result of, despite being brightly colored, things looking worn out and old or scrapped together. This is very much a world heavily recycled, and nature has started to overwhelm what stood before. Most importantly this will make the open world fun to explore, and for me will be super important as I tend to get bored with open world games quickly. Although, I had a wonderful time with Breath of Wild recently. BioMutant gives me that same sense of adventure, but this time with guns and robots!
My time with BioMutant was certainly accentuated by being able to sit down and play with the game’s director and Experiment 101 Studio Head, Stefan Ljungqvist. He was able to provide some behind the scenes perspective and explain some things to me as I made my way through the demo. Things like the heavy kung-fu influences that are seen throughout the game. Adding guns certainly added “Gun-fu” to the mix. He explained what the crafting system will be more like later on in the game, and that the demo’s linear path isn’t representative of the open world that comes later. I was also shown a secret, showing that there will be rewards for exploring thoroughly. He got excited with me when I noticed we were playing through the trailer and laughed with me as I created my crazy purple/pink furred critter.
I had a great time with Stefan playing through this promising new IP. Playing through only the introduction does leave a few questions in my mind primarily about exploration and how creative players will be able to get in their weapons crafting and upgrades. I really want to explore this world, yet without a solid story, I may burnout early. There were a few times I felt like I wasn’t hitting my intended target, instead hitting something completely different or nothing at all. This could be either the game’s incomplete status at the time or player error on my part, not fully understanding something or missing an aspect to the gameplay. This doesn’t concern me though, because there is still plenty of time to clean things up and add to what’s already there.
BioMutant is definitely a game to keep your eye on and is a top candidate for 2018 open world games.
For more information on BioMutant, check out the official website.