If you had asked me last week about a game called Raiders of the Broken Planet I would have shrugged my shoulders and stared at you blankly. However after spending the last two days with Enric Alvarez and the team at MercurySteam, I have to confess that I am quite excited for its release on Friday, September 22. I’ve spent the last several hours discussing, watching and playing through this new IP from the developers of Metroid:Samus Returns and I am so excited to share all I have gathered with you. So kick back, grab a coffee and spend some time getting to know Raiders of the Broken Planet.
Raiders is a Four VS One shooter/brawler hybrid set in a story driven campaign system. To be frank it is a hard game to describe to the casual player. Before your mind jumps to games like Evolve or even Borderlands, which at a distance can look similar in aesthetic, understand that the game this developer has created really is a unique experience. The game features a number of Raiders that you can select and play through a variety of missions. As a group of four raiders you enter the world with a specific set of objectives based around the over arching story. A fifth player can also join the match as an antagonist working alongside the NPC’s to do any and all things to slow down and stop the Raiders from completing the mission. The most interesting element here is that you may or may not find yourself in a match with an antagonist and won't actually know until after the four teammates have selected their raiders. This can create a very interesting set up and helps to create a unique experience with every play through.
Mercurysteam has spent that last couple of years trying to answer a rather daunting question, “As an independent studio how do we separate ourselves from the pack?”. Raiders of the Broken Planet is their answer. It combines elements from several different shooters and fighting games into one organic combat experience where everything seems to come together to create a really unique and enjoyable playthrough. I’m not going to focus too much on the specifics of the mechanics ( be sure to check out my first impressions article coming soon) but suffice to say That Raiders plays unlike anything I have played before. Combining shooting, brawler and cover mechanics, this game offers the player fast paced combat that requires intelligent engagement to be successful. Throw in some great progression systems and loadouts and you are presented with a game that has some great replay potential. From my time with the game it is shaping up to be a solid offering.
As mentioned the game is built around a story campaign system. According to Enric (Founder and CEO of MercurySteam) the game will feature four unique story driven campaigns, each with its own unique gameplay scenarios and fully realized story. Each campaign can be individually played and will actually be released progressively over the next several months. Now before you label this an episodic game in the vain of Telltale Games it is worth noting that the company is staying away from this concept by allowing players to purchase any or all of them as they are released. This means that you can simply buy the first one and will have played a complete story. With a low entry point of 10 euros per campaign at the time of writing this essentially allows players the opportunity to try Raiders out without the triple A price point. If you really want the try before you buy experience Mercury is also offering a free to play demo of the game which includes the prologue missions. It allows you to dip your toes in the world without committing.
Another incredible feature with this Campaign driven model is that players will be able to invite their friends to play each campaign even if said friend doesn’t own the campaign they are being invited to. Essentially as long as the player owns one campaign they can be invited to any of the remaining three are are free to play any of the missions within that campaign. Don’t have the cash for the next campaign until the end of the month? No problem just jump in with your buddies and enjoy the experience. When questioned about loss of sales by using this model Enric admitted that it is a possibility but feels that with the lower point of entry and the intentionally that the company is taking with community involvement but feels that over all people will support what they enjoy.
Speaking on the issue of community involvement this is another area that MercurySteam is very passionate about. One of the reasons for the staggered campaign release is that they want feedback from the community. When questioned about the importance of the community to the forward progression of Raiders it was communicated that it is of paramount importance. Enric went on to explain that feedback is crucial to the evolution of the game as service, one that is constantly being refined, tweaked and in some cases changed, based on player feedback. Mercury has already begun the process of establishing avenues of communication between developer and gamer but creating a community site, adding a new section on the official Raiders site and will be launching a companion app that will include several tools so as to stay up todate with the latest things happening in and with the game.
The game itself is gorgeous to watch and play. The game world finds much of its inspiration from Shows/movies like Firefly, Dune and the Magnificent Seven and carries a unique art style that really helps it stand out aesthetically. Built on the company’s proprietary Mercury Engine Five (the same engine used in all of their games including Metroid: Samus Returns), it supports 4k and uncapped frames on PC as well as a solid 60 frames on the Xbox and PS4. When asked about 4K support on the console we were told that it will be scaled to help ensure the 60fps which for a shooter is by far the more important aspect to consider. After playing for a couple of hours on the Xbox One I can say that the game still looks gorgeous even without the “true 4K” experience. The game supports HDR across the board (assuming you have a console or PC that supports it)as well as NVIDIA’s Shadowplay Highlights (in single player mode on PC only).
The first campaign is set to release Friday, September 22, at 10 euros with a Founder’s Season Pass also being offered at 40 Euros. This founder’s pack will include access to all four campaigns as they become available along with all of the premium characters from the first campaign which you would otherwise need to wait to get when they are officially released sometime after launch. From my time with Raiders of the Broken Planet I have to say that it is one of the most unique shooters I have played in some time. I would recommend checking this title out and with a playable demo there really isn’t any reason not to dip your toes in this polished, unique shooter. Be sure to keep your browser locked to MMORPG for our continued coverage of Raiders of the Broken Planet.