It’s a solid experience.
As with all games, there are some good bits, and less good bits. For the most part, the good bits make the rest sort of not matter as much.
It’s a BioWare game, and Tarsis is the “story hub”. The demo only gives you 3 quests, but as a sign of the rest I think it will be a fun run through. Of the coop shooters I have played, it’s better than nearly all the others in that regard…sci-fi but not so weird it’s hard to follow (Warframe can be tough on that one).
The art, music, design are all top notch. I think it caused my GPU to melt, as the PC shut down a few times. Rarely are you unable to see where to go, or what’s going on, which is honestly a tough bag in any 3D game. It’s a demo, so customization options are limited, but it’s pretty clear there will be a lot of options. I do like that there are so many dye options, easy to get creative and lose time there. It’s also good that each Javelin has their own outline, so that they are easily recognizable regardless of their armor sets.
Mechanics are decent. There are some overall number issues, spawn rates, that sort of stuff that can be balanced without too much trouble. Enemies aren’t just meat shields, they each have their own preferred tactics, weak spots, and strategies. Shielded enemies need to be flanked. Head shots matter. The giant spider has weak points on the back. You need to always be moving, dodging, or evading attacks (even as a tank). The scar enemies attack in groups, and sometimes it feels cheap to be attacked by half a dozen enemies, who all eat through your shields in 2 seconds. In particular in open areas.
Where things go a bit off the rails are on the environments. I am used to cover based mechanics, or maybe that you can use the environment to avoid damage. Large objects, that generally applies. Smaller objects, like walls, that doesn’t seem to work. One battle has you take on 3 fire giants who have massive fire AE. Walls did nothing to stop that from hitting. All too often I can’t hit an enemy but they can hit me. The giant mech battle is a really good example of this too.
Flight mechanics I can’t get used to. In a straight line, sure that works fine. Anytime you need to actually move, or gosh forbid you’re underwater, it feels like you’re driving a rear wheel drive in the snow. The amount of oversteer is insane. It is a major distraction and I am really hoping there’s just something wrong with my control setup. I’m still tweaking the sensitivity settings…
Javelin diversity works well enough. I think there’s something wrong with the colossus though, as it seems entirely built for support. Maybe it’s just the limitations of the demo, but having pure support in a shooter (with no real healing, or faster rez) doesn’t seem to jive so much. That and that the defensive toolkit really doesn’t work when you’re getting attacked from multiple directions, and bosses still chew through them. Will be interesting to see that class grow. Ranger is fun, if your standard meat soldier. Storm is the glass canon, but really the canon part could use some tweaking. Their ultimate is insane, I’ll give it that. Due to the elemental effects (fire, ice, or electric) it makes for some really interesting builds. Interceptor, I don’t have much experience with, and I rarely saw any in the groups.
Weapon diversity is pretty much what you’d expect in a demo. Rifles, snipers, shotguns, grenade launchers. Some minor diversity within, short burst, full auto, that sort of stuff. You cant upgrade weapons, and they don’t have a unique appearance… but maybe they do later on. I will say that comparing weapons isn’t all that practical in the numbers game. It’s nice that you have playstyle choice.
The game feels like it has a persistent memory leak. I’ve crashed numerous times, hit an infinite load screen nearly every single mission, creatures suddenly pop in or out. It’s just weird, and I fully expect that to be addressed at launch.
Honestly, a demo is a crappy way to look at the meta. I won’t dig on that. The moment to moment stuff, that really works well. It’s clear there are some balance changes that will be applied for launch, since this is a 2 month old build. But the tiny moments are fun. It’s great to take on a giant mass of enemies, and barely scrap by. It’s fun to take on a boss in a giant room, full of waves of enemies. It’s fun to use abilities as a group, see some interesting combos come from it.
Pleasantly surprised by the end.
There are some pretty epic damage combos on the Colossus that support protection as well. The over the shoulder shock cannon has 10 charges. So I hit that, and put my shield up – it zaps nearby enemies. THEN I use the flamethrower and it does an AOE COMBO effect that blows everything up in front of you. Keep popping the shield up and down in the front lines. Was really effective.
Otherwise, I think my only real complaint is that health doesn’t self regenerate. That leaves little change for epic saves. Your team gets flanked and boss whacks a couple down, you escape by the slimmest of margins, the enemies are hunting you down BUT you can’t go revive a teammate because you have no health left, and not enough to engage any enemies to get some back.
I think these games need it because when things go bad they generally stay bad, and it’s hard to dodge bullets in flight and hard to cheap out the AI (Destiny 1 and 2 is easy this way, just retreat to a marker and all the enemies stop attacking)
Otherwise, I spent a lot of time in game this weekend too and can’t wait to try out the other ones next weekend.
I hope that the next demo has the ability to repeat the quests. That Mech boss is a really good example of the colossus weaknesses, as compared to the spider run. Shots come from everywhere, there are large spawns, attacks from range, and a boss that’s continually nuking you without the ability to regenerate / take a small breath.
Honestly, it reminds me of Skyforge’s take on tanking.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times where 2 storms and a colossus will rip everyone to shreds… but that’s when they are tunneled into a single location. Not many battles like that.
I am quite looking forward to the next pass. I want to test out more of the various abilities. Some really interesting bits in there!