Prior to attending PAX West 2017, I hadn’t given much thought to THQ Nordic and Experiment 101’s Biomutant. It generated a ton of buzz at Gamescom a couple weeks ago, and while the furry, gun toting creature moderately stirred my curiosity, I struggled to discern the considerable hype it had generated. As I sauntered past the game’s booth on the PAX West show floor, an open spot caught my eye. With twenty minutes to kill and nothing but my ignorance to lose I thought, “What the hell, I might as well see what all the commotion’s about.” Following my hands-on time with the game, it was inherently clear that what had initially sparked my curiosity, now has my full attention.
Biomutant is an ARPG based in a post-apocalyptic open-world inhabiting a mutated, raccoon-looking creature that knows kung fu, shoots guns, and has super powers. Believe me, it’s just as badass as it sounds. The game features a dynamic combat system that combines shooting, melee, and special abilities. You fight a myriad of bizarre enemies plaguing the land in order to reunite or eradicate the divided tribes existing within it.
At the start of the demo, you customize the physique of your mutated character. Altering your height and weight determines the attributes you begin with. The tall, muscular build I decided on granted me additional strength and vitality at the sacrifice of intellect. In other words, I was a dumb, mutated jock. You can also personalize the nature and colors of your fur too. Naturally, I chose the fluffiest coat available sporting COG maroon with a flare of white. After deciding between the path of the righteous or the anti-hero, I immediately encountered a hulking brute of some sort as I was introduced to the free-flowing kung fu fighting mechanics.
“Biomutant is an ARPG based in a post-apocalyptic open-world inhabiting a mutated, raccoon-looking creature that knows kung fu, shoots guns, and has super powers. Believe me, it’s just as badass as it sounds.”
Combat is based on gunplay, melee attacks, and dodging. Fighting feels silky smooth as you constantly switch between firearms and melee weapons. I began with dual handguns and a massive sword. I quickly discovered that you can briefly slow down time if you shoot when leaping through the air. It’s incredibly effective as it enables you to dodge attacks while granting additional time to analyze the enemies surrounding you. In addition to hacking and slashing foes up close, you can perform a devastating spin attack. It’s perfect for groups of assailants that converge on you simultaneously.
Creativity and style are at the forefront of Biomutant’s combat system. You target enemies by locking on, which eliminates the requisite to aim. Shooting, slashing, leaping, and dodging are all a breeze in the heat of a fight. One second I’d be blasting an enemy from a distance, the next I’d be sliding between it’s legs to chop it from behind. Truthfully, it’s one of the smoothest third person combat systems I’ve ever experienced. The constant swap between weapons in combat feels nearly immaculate and is the preeminent factor contributing to my growing esteem for the game.
Following my triumph over several groups of enemies, I was introduced to crafting and mutant abilities. Scattered throughout the open world are materials that can be collected to craft weapons at a workbench. You can craft anything from enormous two-handed swords to a series of eccentric firearms. Weapons can be further enhanced with a series of attachable modules that can deal fire, frost, or poison damage. Slash an adversary with a poison module equipped and it’ll puke it’s guts out. Mutant abilities amplify combat and manipulate the environment. The Mothmouth ability spawns a swarm of insects that daze and confuse enemies. I found it to be especially effective when dealing with the larger groups of combatants. The fungi ability generates a mushroom that you can bounce on to overcome platforming obstacles. All of your mutant abilities can be upgraded periodically as you progress through the game. You can continue to manipulate your attributes by equipping variations of gear. By the end of my play through, I wore a suit of heavy armor and wielded a rifle decorated with buzzsaws.
In the final moments of the demo you get glimpse of the vibrant open world that awaits you. Beyond the tutorial area of the game lie vast mountains to traverse, underground caverns to explore, diverse enemies to combat, and strange characters to encounter. There’s seemingly a lot of ground to cover, so, whether by land, sea, or air, there’s a plethora of vehicles to take for a spin. I’m rather eager to uncover the secrets of my character and the peculiar world he inhabits.
Biomutant is distinct in the best ways possible. The world and characters are mystifying, the combat feels magnificent, play style is deeply customizable, and it all culminates into an alluring experience. Ultimately, I’ve only experienced a mere fragment of what Experiment 101’s open-world ARPG has to offer. Currently the game is slated for release sometime next year and will surely see evolution over the course of it’s continued development cycle. Also, I’m now aboard the hype train in case you haven’t already figured it out.