A Souls-like bat­tle royale mash-up with bucket loads of neon, but has it got soul?

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Dom Re­seigh-Lin­coln

PUB­LISHER Fazan De­vel­oper Fazan For­mat Xbox One ETA 2018

With the bat­tle royale bub­ble yet to burst, and with the ‘find guns in an ever-shrink­ing map’ for­mula now ground down to a fine dust, it’s time for some­one to try some­thing a little dif­fer­ent. En­ter Egress, a swag­ger­ing PvP af­fair that trades ri­fles and grenades for axes and swords, and flat open maps with a cou­ple of houses for a dense, Vic­to­rian cityscape. Ques­tion is, can it set it­self far enough apart from its in­flu­ences to be a de­cent game in its own right?

And it re­ally isn’t hard to iden­tify the games and fran­chises that cur­rently adorn Egress’ bed­room wall. The gothic aes­thetic is Dishonored to a tee; the era-fus­ing char­ac­ter de­signs have a real Fable feel about them, and that com­bat? With the fo­cus on po­si­tion, mo­men­tum and dodges? Well, let’s just say it re­minds us of a cer­tain game that rhymes with ‘park goals’. Come on, some­one was go­ing to mash up Play­erUn­known’s Bat­tle­grounds with Souls even­tu­ally. It was only a mat­ter of time…

As pre­dictable as its union may be, de­vel­oper Fazan is cer­tainly hop­ing to pull it off with plenty of sass, and in­fuse its new of­fer­ing with a sense of ver­ti­cal­ity and scale of­ten lost in long rounds of PUBG. The Vic­to­ri­anstyle town­houses of its set­ting are bunched tightly to­gether, mak­ing for maze-like kill boxes on the ground and mini bat­tle­fields high above on the rooftops. Fights will spill into houses, or down into the depths of the sew­ers that run be­neath the city. It’s the kind of world de­sign where am­bushes and traps – an­other Souls call­ing card – will almost cer­tainly be the per­pet­ual dish of the day.

Dirty dozen

The com­bat is the big sell­ing point here, and Fazan is promis­ing plenty of depth when it comes to how you use and up­grade each char­ac­ter. There will be 12 in to­tal and each one will have their own unique traits, abil­i­ties and weapons (see ‘Meet the Hunter’ for info on one of the dozen fight­ers on of­fer) so learn­ing to use each one – as well as learn­ing how well they per­form against cer­tain other builds – will be key to vic­tory in its dark­ened are­nas.

So it’s bat­tle royale in the vaguest of terms, re­ally. You can play in both tra­di­tional solo or more team-fo­cused modes, but the com­bat veers away from the ‘every­one starts with noth­ing’ for­mula of other games in the genre and in­stead opts for some­thing you’d find in a mod­ern ac­tion-RPG. One char­ac­ter has a slow-mov­ing mace, but he also boasts the power to launch bolts of molten fire, mak­ing him a dan­ger­ous mix of power and ranged grief­ing. An­other has a nasty­look­ing rapier, at­tuned for speed and pre­ci­sion, while an­other bran­dishes a giant pick­axe that says, “I’m slow, but I’ll ruin your evening if I catch you”.

We’re also re­ally dig­ging the neontinged look Egress is swing­ing for. The stu­dio be­hind the game says it’s mash­ing up the Vic­to­rian era with Love­craft’s mythol­ogy and retrowave. So we’re ba­si­cally get­ting Vic­to­ri­anstyle cos­tumes, a po­ten­tial Cthul­huesque an­gle and all the synth-backed mu­sic you could hope for.

We’re just hop­ing the set of 12 char­ac­ters has some sup­port for cus­tomi­sa­tion when it comes to abil­i­ties and weapons, as we can see plenty of room for grief­ing and trolling if those 12 bruis­ers aren’t prop­erly bal­anced. Still, with a PC-based closed beta on the cards later this year, there should be enough time for Egress to test its met­tle in time for an even­tual de­but on Xbox One. We’ll lis­ten to some synth-pop in the mean­time.

“Fights spill into houses or into the depths of sew­ers that run be­neath the city”

De­vel­oper Fazan pre­vi­ously worked on open-world, PC- based hor­ror ti­tle, Beas­t­ar­ium

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