PAX Prime Day 3 Recap – Better Late than Never Edition
Guns of Icarus Online – PvE Test
How many times have you played a great arena based PvP focused shooter and thought to yourself, man this is fun but I wish there was a challenging alternative with progression and immersion to further build out the story and world behind this endless battle? Muse Games is one of the few small time developers lucky enough to live this dream after successfully surviving the scorching fire of not one but two successful Kickstarter funding sessions. And now after roughly a year and a half of testing, Guns of Icarus Online is putting its most dedicated playerbase through the initial alpha testing of their PvE battle modes. And speaking from hands-on experience, I envy anyone who backed this addition as you will soon be getting your money’s worth.
Rather than the methodical deadly dance of roughly equal ships facing off with two teams of 4 on each doing their best to man the various guns and repair burning components, Guns of Icarus Online pits these players together against hordes of often but not always weaker opponents in a gauntlet of survival and strategy to see just how long you can stay cool under pressure. The mode my crew tested out involved two air ships taking on roughly 30 enemy units including a couple massive devastating Bonefish class vessels to protect a base until reinforcements could arrive.
The gameplay was a blast as the engineer class, a member of the ship that mostly fires off guns but is primarily responsible for powering up equipment, repair damage, and just generally keep your zeppelin from burning into cinders. The waves feel like patchy eyes of a multi-wave hurricane as your blood boils trying to keep afloat for 5 minutes of combat, only to suddenly have nothing going on for 3 minutes. Then your min-max personality has to set in to rush around the ship repairing damage and deciding with your spare 30 seconds of downtime which compartment of the ship would serve best to endure an on the fly upgrade.
Captains on the other hand have their work cut out for them as the new mode featured map sizes far beyond anything I’d ever experienced in the original Guns of Icarus title. And even if they are comparable, it was rare you actually needed to explore a full map before your enemy ship or your own was destroyed and result screens were overriding the screen. The new PvE mode demands speed! Defend this turret. Draw fire off that base. Get your gunner into range to deal some damage to the fourth damn Bonefish to cut your base’s shields to shreds this match. I’m looking forward to the increased importance on the captain in this mode as well as the cross-ship communication to pull and bait enemy AI into traps.
Optimization seems to be key to the experience here and not a lick of lag was felt despite the huge number of ships occasionally opening fire at once in the demo. With flamethrowers, mounted snipers,and Gatling guns filling the skies with led in both direction, our gameplay cut through without hindrance. And all this looked swell in the advanced spectator mode that the developers watched our every move on.
So where to from here? Muse Games still has a ton of promises to deliver on including multiple factions, fully explorable towns, quest systems, guilds, and a certain giant whale ship they’ve been teasing me with for years. But all these things feel minor compared to what they already have on display, so I say its all downhill from here. Guns of Icarus Online is already far ahead of schedule and should be one of those rare crowdfunded games to come out beyond anything the backers dreamed of.
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