Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden Hands-On Preview – XCOM on Roids
One of the more interesting gaming experiences I got to get some hands-on time with at E3 2018 was Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden from The Bearded Ladies, which I might add could be the most radical video game development studio name of all-time. While some of you may be familiar with the Mutant Year Zero franchise, which started as a paper-based RPG, I had no clue about it going into my closed doors demo, but after playing the first official video game based on it, I can tell you I’m a new fan.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is best described as a tactical turn-based action game set in an explorable world with elements of stealth, crafting, RPG attributes, and of course an overarching narrative starring a duck, a boar, and a mutated human. The gameplay — at least when you enter into a fight — is very XCOM-like, but this is not an XCOM clone by any means. Unlike that turn-based strategy game each level is fully explorable, so you can approach every mission anyway you see fit. You’re not forced into a defined scenario that you must tactfully fight your way out of.
You actually explore the map with your three mutant party members to find loot and other goodies, but also to scout out every dangerous encounter you may come up against. You can effectively scout out a battle scenario to better position yourself against the enemy forces to give yourself the advantage.
You will need plenty of advantages too, because Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is punishingly difficult, at least the press demo we were given to play, which by the way was only completed by one person at E3, so yes, this game is no joke. Now we were told that the demo took place fairly deep into the game, so we missed out on many of the battle scenarios that would have trained us better for the demo, but with that being said I still found the AI to be very competent and not easily beaten.
I enjoyed this aspect though, because it gave me motivation to try new things with each new attempt, and I think that’s what this game is all about. You will have to live and learn to become successful, so it doesn’t easily give up the goods, which is appreciated if you’re looking for a true strategic gaming challenge.
The battle sequences are very intense because of the difficulty, but luckily your team of Dux, Bormin, and Selma each have their own skill sets and special moves called mutations. I could use Dux’s ability to fly to sneak into areas unseen, or get a higher position to attack from. With Bormin I could charge into enemies to cause significant damage, while with Selma I could summon tree roots to lock foes in their place. The mutations definitely add to this game’s focus on strategy and tactics, so they can save the day, but they can also screw the proverbial pooch if used at the wrong time.
Environments are completely destructible too, so if you find yourself being blocked from attacking thanks to an enemy being in cover, you can blow that cover away if you have a grenade. I loved this realistic destruction, and it definitely adds to this game’s heavy focus on strategy and tactics. You legitimately have to map out your plan of attack with each encounter, and if you do not, you will die, because the AI enemies will always take advantage of your mistakes be it a wrong move, or a premature attack.
The gameplay is punishing, but very well done, and visually, the game looks great already too. Every single level has been meticulously designed for authenticity, and there will be no procedurally generated environments. This allowed The Bearded Ladies to craft a living world, and one that is expertly crafted to promote exploration, stealth, and of course during battle scenarios, hardcore strategies. Everything about this game’s graphics caters to the gameplay, but it is also very pleasing to the eye, so Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden features a solid looking presentation with punishing by addicting gameplay.
If you were like me and had no idea what the Mutant Year Zero franchise was all about, then you need to get on this game’s bandwagon, especially if you’re a fan of XCOM and other turn-based games like it. The story and characters are intriguing enough to dig into deeper, but the gameplay is what I think people will be drawn to due to the challenge. I don’t want to scare anyone away, but based on what I played, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is XCOM on steroids, and that excites me greatly.
You can check out the gameplay in action below via a new trailer. Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden will be hitting PC, Xbox One, and PS4 later this year.
Now available for PC pre-order on buy.mutantyearzero.com, the game will be available in a Standard Edition ($34.99) and a Deluxe Edition ($54.99). The Deluxe Edition includes a desktop wallpaper, digital artbook, digital soundtrack, and a digital copy of the Mutant Year Zero pen-and-paper RPG book. Pre-ordering the Standard Edition will give you a three-day head start at launch while pre-ordering the Deluxe Edition gives you the three-day head start as well as access to a Beta version of the game before launch.
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