Biomu­tant

Teenage mu­tant ninja ro­dents

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - PREVIEW - Stephen Ashby Pub­lisheR THQ Nordic De­vel­oper Ex­per­i­ment 101 For­mat Xbox One ETA Late 2018

It’s no sur­prise that a racoon-ratthing would sur­vive the apoc­a­lypse. What’s slightly more sur­pris­ing is that they would mu­tate into a race of in­tel­li­gent be­ings, learn mar­tial arts, and then have to save the world from a sec­ond, even worse apoc­a­lypse. Th­ese guys can’t catch a break. Be­fore you take charge of

Biomu­tant’s mu­tated ro­dent kung fu master, though, you first must choose what kind of fighter you want your hero to be. The choice is im­por­tant— your stats will change de­pend­ing on the height and weight of your char­ac­ter. Find­ing the right mix of dam­age, health and agility, as well as mak­ing your furry lit­tle guy (or gal) look com­pletely badass, is im­por­tant.

Once you’re ready, it’s time to save the world. And that world is huge, di­vided into five ar­eas that you can visit in any or­der you like. It might look like a par­adise wait­ing to be ex­plored, but there’s a dark­ness hid­den be­neath the lush green grass.

“At the start of the game, there’s kind of an equi­lib­rium,” ex­plains Ste­fan Ljungqvist, founder and stu­dio head of Ex­per­i­ment 101. “The Tree of Life that stands tall at the world’s cen­ter is strug­gling to sur­vive, seep­ing death from its five gi­gan­tic roots that stretch out in all di­rec­tions across the open world. There are huge crea­tures gnaw­ing at the end of each root, slowly cor­rupt­ing the Tree.”

So far, so RPG. But there’s more to this game than a sim­ple ‘kill five bosses’ quest. Yes, you can choose to find th­ese beasts in any or­der that you like, but you can also tackle them in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ways. “You have a choice to seek out any of th­ese five crea­tures at any time in the game and try to de­feat them, or enter into a pact with one of them,” says Ljungqvist. “It’s up to you, and you can be sure your choice will have a big im­pact on the world and your per­sonal end of the game.” But you don’t have to con­front the crea­tures if you don’t fancy a fight. If you pre­fer, you can search the world for Nono— small spirit pota­toes (yes, re­ally) that can cure the roots, and give the Tree of Life the abil­ity to take a stand against the crea­tures it­self.

Tribal war­fare

But it’s not just gi­ant beast­ies and… um, smaller beast­ies that pop­u­late this am­bi­tious game world. Tribes are liv­ing here too—at the start of the game, you’ll meet the Yin and Yang tribes. Each have a head­quar­ters and out­posts across the map. “If you choose to ally with and help a tribe, their Sifu [Master] will of­fer to teach you the tribe’s style (for ex­am­ple Chicken Kung Fu or Tur­tle Kung Fu) and even­tu­ally you’ll have a chance to earn the Tribe’s relic weapon…” teases Ljungqvist. He had us at Chicken Kung Fu, to be hon­est. Team up, and you can help one tribe con­quer the other’s out­posts, strength­en­ing your cho­sen tribe and weak­en­ing the other. If enough out­posts are de­feated, the tribes will wage war, and you can be a part of the bat­tle.

“The out­come of the bat­tle will leave the strong­est stand­ing,” says Ljungqvist, “and the leader’s karma and your choices will have an im­pact

“Mak­ing your furry lit­tle guy look com­pletely badass is im­por­tant”

“We try to pro­vide as much free­dom as pos­si­ble when it comes to weapon craft­ing”

on the fate of the los­ing tribe and their leader—which will also play a part in your end­ing.” Even­tu­ally, you’ll have a choice. Your cho­sen tribe can de­feat, sub­due or unite the oth­ers. Your choice, and the karma of the last leader stand­ing, will also af­fect your end­ing.

We know what you’re think­ing though. We’ve just strolled through that last para­graph, causally sprin­kling the word ‘karma’ as if you know what the hell we’re talk­ing about. Let us clear that up for you. Ev­ery choice you make in the world will change your level of karma, good or bad. At a ba­sic level, di­a­logue choices may af­fect the quests, op­tions and con­ver­sa­tions you have. Your karma level will also af­fect how cer­tain char­ac­ters greet or talk about you.

“Es­sen­tially this also plays into your per­sonal end­ing—there’s no right or wrong in this, it’s the way of the world, and the choices you make af­fect it,” says Ljungqvist. “Your choices will quite of­ten take your karma into con­sid­er­a­tion, even on a con­science level.” He’s not be­ing philo­soph­i­cal here, ei­ther—there is lit­er­ally a ‘voice of con­science’ that will act as a guardian of what you think, feel or do.

Go­ing big

This sounds like a game of se­ri­ous scope, right? And that’s be­fore we’ve even started talk­ing about the char­ac­ter abil­i­ties, weapons and ar­mor—this is an RPG af­ter all. Ex­per­i­ment 101 has cre­ated a sys­tem that will in­cor­po­rate two styles of mu­ta­tion, as well as Bionic En­hance­ments, to power your char­ac­ter up. Add to that the cus­tom­iz­a­ble weapons and gear that will af­fect your stats (we’ll get to them in a minute) and you’ll un­der­stand that this isn’t some RPG pre­tender. This is the real deal.

The Bio-mu­ta­tions, PSI-mu­ta­tions, and Bionic En­hance­ments all have a ma­jor im­pact on how your char­ac­ter looks, as well as what they can do in bat­tle. There are at least five types of each one, and each of th­ese has five upgrade lev­els. If this is start­ing to sound con­fus­ing, don’t worry— Ljungqvist re­as­sures us that the team has care­fully con­sid­ered each one. “We want to make sure that they all have a mean­ing in the game, and add some­thing to your cre­ative tool­box to en­hance a cer­tain style of play in com­bat or ex­plo­ration of the world.”

Bio-mu­ta­tions, such as a growth on your back that lets you de­flect bul­lets, will have a visual im­pact on your char­ac­ter, but PSI-mu­ta­tions will give you psy­chic pow­ers, al­low­ing you to shoot sparks from your claws, or use telekine­sis to fling ob­jects or en­e­mies around like toys in the weird­est play­room ever. You can also ‘re-code’ your molec­u­lar struc­ture at bio-pools, al­ter­nat­ing your DNA to ad­just your phys­i­cal shape, size and ba­sic at­tributes. So if you made a fat, neon-pink cat with green stripes at the start and im­me­di­ately re­gret­ted it, you can re­mold your char­ac­ter into some­thing less vomit-in­duc­ing.

Of course, hav­ing a cool char­ac­ter is point­less if they’re wield­ing a crooked stick and shout­ing ‘bang!’ in­stead of hold­ing an ac­tual gun. Thank­fully, not only are there guns and melee weapons, cus­tomiza­tion op­tions let you cre­ate your own lethal com­bi­na­tions.

“We try to pro­vide as much free­dom as pos­si­ble when it comes to weapon craft­ing,” says Ljungqvist. “So for ex­am­ple, you’d be able to weld a con­crete slab to a base­ball bat and fit pieces of bro­ken glass, a screw­driver and a mod­ule with bio-con­tam­i­nated sludge to it, to make a crush-style melee weapon that makes the tar­get vomit.” This is just one ex­am­ple, but we think it’s a damn good one. It’s the same deal for ranged weapons, too—there are dif­fer­ent styles of gun, from shot­gun to au­to­matic ri­fle, as well as at­tach­ments and dif­fer­ent ammo types that can freeze, ig­nite, or elec­tro­cute your en­e­mies.

If there’s one thing we learned from our chat with Ljungqvist, it’s that the team at Ex­per­i­ment 101 aren’t mess­ing about. Biomu­tant is an am­bi­tious RPG with all the el­e­ments you’d ex­pect from a triple-A ti­tle. Can it bring them to­gether and cre­ate a game that’s truly un­for­get­table? Only time will tell, but things are shap­ing up well.

Main Equip­ping gear will give you dif­fer­ent buffs and abil­i­ties. For ex­am­ple, you’ll need a gas mask and oxy­gen tank to enter the Dead Zone…

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