The popularity in hero shooters continues to rise. Though one could say that Team Fortress 2 was the original pioneer of the sub-genre, the games within this category were clearly influenced by some of our favorite MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas). The first two video games that started the hero shooter trend were Battleborn and Overwatch (and nearly a year removed from release, we know which came out on top). Since then, we have seen the release of other hero shooters, such as Paladins and Atlas Reactor. All of them bleed the same edgy, cartoony style while putting their own unique spin on combat and gameplay. The latest addition to this sub-genre is BATTLECREW Space Pirates, featuring a 2.5-D camera angle that sets it apart from predecessors.
The setting of BATTLECREW Space Pirates is exactly what you’d expect. The developers humorously combine the stereotypical definitions of both space and nautical pirates, with a hub world literally called “Orbital Tortuga.” That thematic humor is greatly utilized by the characters and blends some pop culture into the mix. (During battle, I heard my character say, “Float like a butter fish and sting like a ray!”) The people at Don’t Nod Eleven want this game to be a good time, and that’s something to be “treasured” (ha, see what I did there?). Yes, the talented folks responsible for LIfe is Strange have started up another studio, and this is what they’re working on.
As of this preview’s writing, the current build of BATTLECREW Space Pirates is in development and available in Early Access via Steam for $9.99. Aside from some limited settings in the options menu, my current experience is mostly positive. The only mode available at the moment is Goldrush, where teams of four must retrieve gold from various chests across the map and bring it back safely to their home base. This unique mode is a nice break from all the control points and payloads I’ve dealt with. Sometimes the chests are placed on a cart that rolls through the map, offering a heightened level of tension that changes the pace. Mid-match, the announcer will also yell, “It’s raining gold!” Though in small amounts, gold rains from the sky as players scramble to collect it. These small bags of gold add to what you’re currently carrying, increasing the value handsomely if you can nab more than one.
The characters work similarly to other hero shooters, with abilities being mapped to a particular set of keys. While there will surely be more, the developers have given us four characters to get familiar with in the Early Access version. John Trigger and Comet feel like they lack originality, cribbing from Overwatch‘s Soldier 76 and Tracer. The other two characters are close-range, and I find them a bit more interesting. Janger is a tiger with dual-bladed tonfas that dashes around the map, dealing damage in the process. My personal favorite is Tiburon, a big Shark with a sword and a jetpack. His secondary is a bomb that puts up a big wall when thrown. I had a great time blocking enemies as I looted one chest after another.
The maps themselves are pretty large, yet easy to traverse. Each character can jump along walls, as well as employ a unique traversal ability. Each map includes a slipstream that can launch your character to a particular section of the arena. There are usually a couple in each map and they work similarly to the tubes Sonic jumps into in the old Sonic the Hedgehog games. I used these to my advantage, making a clean getaway or knocking my foes into them.
Though BATTLECREW Space Pirates still needs some development, I had fun playing it. Gameplay seems to be pretty balanced, as I never felt overwhelmed by any particular character and was able to hold my own. It remains to be seen whether this game is going to gain some real notoriety with such a notable studio name behind it.
I wish the best for Don’t Nod Eleven. It’s tough to create a video game in a genre that’s already over-saturated. BATTLECREW might just have the potential to be a great whale in the sea, rather than another fish in the pond.
Early Access code kindly provided by HomeRun PR.