Arena shooter. The word itself had grown to become synonymous with games like Quake and Unreal Tournament but the genre itself hasn’t received much love from the game developers over the past few years. Developers find that going in for a more fleshed out single player and multi player experience with flashy gadgets, vehicles and perks nets them more revenue. However, when murmurs of a new Unreal Tournament surfaced, this genre got a new lease of life. Now, with the confirmed release of Unreal Tournament some time in the near future, arena shooters are coming back in a big way.
For the unintiated, arena shooters usually involve multiple players battling it out in an arena with power ups for armor and health. Your health does not regenerate, you usually start with 1 weapon and the remaining weapons need to be picked up from the power up. Now obviously you can get by using twitch aim and good movement skills but what separates good players from the great players is that they keep track of powerful pick ups such as the Mega Health or the Mega Armor. This means they maneuver themselves into a position where they can pick it up as soon as it spawns.
Wickland is one of those attempts at reviving arena shooters, it is a cookie cutter arena shooter with similar mechanics to Unreal Tournament, strafing, circle jumping et al… or is it?
Something Lurks in these Arenas
The fantasy element is what sets Wickland apart from rest of the Arena Shooters. In this there are no “weapons” there are only creatures whose identity you assume and consequently their powers. These powers can be anything from throwing magic exploding skulls to firing electricity from your eel-like hands.
The unique aspect of this mechanic is that everytime you switch out your “weapon” you change form into whatever creature you’ve selected so you can literally go from Human to a giant Gorrilla monster in a matter of seconds. Also instead of armor in the literal Beast Mode you have the health of the beast which depletes as you take damage.
One thing you’ll notice as you play this game is the parallels these Beasts draw to original Unreal Tournament Weapons such as the Plasma Rifle and Tass (The Lightning monster). As a matter of fact each of these weapons, though uniquely named, are similar to their Unreal counterparts save for the visuals of it all. This game isn’t meant to reinvent the Arena shooter genre as a whole but merely reinvigorate it with new ideas and we feel it largely succeeded.
Visually, this game is very similar to the original Unreal Tournament 3 which isn’t a surprise considering that it is based on the Unreal Engine 3. The color palette used in the various arenas give the game a very dark feel. All of the maps are pretty well designed and textures are spot on and cleverly placed so that low res textures can’t be spotted out immediately, but I doubt anybody is going to fussing over low resolution textures when you’re ducking and diving for your life.
Survival of the Quickest
This is a game that just screams easy to pick up and extremely hard to master. The learning curve for this game is insane. This is mostly due to the inherent mechanics that other players who have played Arena shooters are aware like circle jumping, strafe jump. If you are aware of these mechanics they directly translate into you playing really well. As such this game is still in Early Access it can only get better from here.
The current player base of the game consists of extremely good players so it can be a bit daunting for beginners, but the developers have assured that they are working on AI for the game so that you can practice your accuracy and circle jumping skills in the safety of a bot match.
The multiplayer as of now is still a 1v1 affair, a Duel if you will. After joining a server you are shown a model of yourself and any others in the server. After selecting your preferred opponent you can choose to duel the person wherein you’re dropped into the map and the game begins.
As previously mentioned this game is still Early Access meaning there are a lot more features that are yet to be released. This will no doubt only enhance your gameplay experience.
Blood has been shed this day
I found the lack of fanfare around the release of Wickland disturbing for it is an extremely well made game. It isn’t flashy or under deliver like other games, it’s a stable game that delivers exactly what was promised and with future updates planned maybe even more. There are however a dearth of players for this fantastic game mostly due to the fact that nobody’s heard of it. The brevity of this review is partly due to the fact that the game is exactly what it appears to be and as such doesn’t require a 10 page review The Devs even organized a tournament with loads of great prizes and it looks like it’s working. However, they could always use more players. So keep an eye out and you might just find yourself the lucky owner of this great game, Right here at TechArx.