Copious crafting and fur-ocious fun
Kung-fu battles, self-administered genetic engineering, the postapocalypse, and you.
Take the open-world playground stylings of Rico’s adventures in Just Cause, and end of the world vibes à la Mad Max. Add to that some Chinese cultural influences, a healthy dose of Kung Fu Panda, and a mutating mammal that’s capable of near-limitless weapon crafting, and you’re in for one undeniably offbeat adventure. This newly announced action-RPG is a mashup of a broad range of concepts, but many of the influences make sense when you know the development team, Experiment 101, consists of ex-Avalanche developers. Sporting the most vibrant and colourful landscape the post-apocalypse has ever seen, Biomutant aims to give you the freedom to craft your own tale, with that commitment to choice permeating every aspect of the eye-wateringly beautiful, semi-realistic world. First, you can craft your main character – a curious animal – in whatever way you see fit, right down to fur type, pattern, and colour. You can also customise your hero’s stats, tweaking things like attack, defence, and movement speed. Adding to that flexibility is a huge world where you can explore and take on quests as you like. We’re told that these will be meaningful and rewarding, going against the grain of the popular ‘fetch quests’ that have woefully bogged down many a promising open-world excursion.
You are also given plenty of choice as to how to approach battles. The core combat is a smooth and accessible combination of melee and shooting, but it’s the abilities that offer the most variation and delight. Your character unlocks abilities by mutating, granting you access to all manner of ways to bring the pain. You can use a swarm of moths to stun enemies, then zap them with a bolt of electricity, or fire projectiles using telekinesis. We’re promised a virtual buffet of mutations, offering an assortment of creative ways to engage in battle. So far we’ve seen adversaries ranging from puny but plentiful tribe members, to large ogre-like foes, and a glimpse of a fierce, three-headed Hydra
“The core combat is a smooth and accessible combination of melee, shooting, and abilities”
Rat has us excited for some intense and inventive enemy encounters.
The narrative uses animals to convey its moral message in the style of a fable. Going against the grain of postapocalyptic stereotypes, this world isn’t under attack by zombies or the result of nuclear devastation. Instead, it’s been ruined by the pollution of the environment (clearly these critters don’t recycle – or their ancestors didn’t). Curiously, the narrator is the only comprehensible speaker in the game (the other characters communicate via a random assortment of noises) providing a narration that’s contextual, with rolling commentary on not only the predetermined story elements, but also many of your individual actions.
Your main objective in Biomutant is threefold, involving the Tree Of Life, warring tribal factions, and a mysterious wolf creature. If the Tree Of Life dies, the world dies, rendering all your other endeavours null and void. With the tribes, you also have a variety of ways in which to tackle things, including uniting them, or wiping out the lot if you’re feeling particularly villainous. The game’s karma system is represented by yin and yang choices. Building good karma will result in a more unified society and better relationships with the world’s oddball inhabitants, or you could follow the path of evil instead and become the world’s tyrannical ruler.
If you’re wondering why we’ve been obscure about our furry companion up until now, it’s because we actually know very little about them. We’re told that who this mysterious mammal is will be revealed during the game, but one thing we do know is they are intrinsically linked to the game’s third narrative element – the strange and menacing wolf-thing. Huzzah for intrigue! The characters aren’t the only thing that’s quirky. Many of the objects – some of which you’ll use to navigate the world – are fairly odd too. We caught a glimpse of a rideable mechanical hand that shoots bullets from its fingers, and we’re also told about a typewriter rocking octopus arms.
After the initial hand-holding that teaches you the mechanics of this world, you’re free to explore as you please, but there are certain environmental conditions which hinder your exploration. Some areas will be off-limits until you’ve tracked down the necessary survival equipment, like a gas mask or thermal clothing (sometimes, fur isn’t enough), or the right transportation, such as mechanical wings or a jet-ski.
Level playing field
With a world as big and freeform as this, difficulty is often a restricting factor, with your hero physically able to travel to virtually any location, but met with a swift demise should they venture there before they have the capability of besting the area’s assailants. Biomutant encourages exploration by taking into consideration your current level when spawning enemies, and the same goes for loot. This doesn’t mean it’ll be a walk in the park, but it should make for a more streamlined player-driven experience where areas can be tackled as and when the player decides.
Its lush green visuals, huge world, and intuitive mix of melee and ranged combat undoubtedly draw similarities with Horizon Zero Dawn, but Experiment 101’s studio head, Stefan Ljungqvist, says the team drew more inspiration from games like Zelda, forging a colourful, fantastical world with crazy characters and emphasising creativity rather than focusing on the kind of linear story presentation and sense of believability that we witnessed in Guerrilla’s recent robot-dino romp.
From what we’ve seen, Biomutant offers wonderfully varied combat in a surprisingly deep adventure that’s been injected with an invigorating dose of humour. Anne-Marie Coyle
Despite being post-apocalyptic, the world is far from a desolate wasteland. Picturesque locations include lush forests and snowy peaks.
Loot comes in the form of random components that you use to craft all manner of melee and ranged weapons.
You have a mechanical cricket sidekick, Automaton. This chirpy creature will give you quests relating to where you are in the world. What a pal.
It’s not all about battle. Quests sometimes involve more unconventional activities, like growing beanstalks or hatching eggs.