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As part of its Summer of Gaming event, IGN have released ten minutes of new gameplay footage from Experiment 101’s upcoming game Biomutant.
Announced in 2017, Biomutant was playable at Gamescom in 2017, but since that time Experiment 101 and publisher THQ Nordic have gone quiet. That all changed a few weeks ago, with ten minutes of new gameplay shown including commentary from the game’s creative director Stefan Ljungqvist.
Biomutant is a huge open world RPG that allows players to create their own furry protagonist to explore the vibrant and dangerous eight kilometre squared setting. Dubbed in 2017 as a “post-apocalyptic kung-fu fable”, the team at Experiment 101 have been taking unexpected inspiration from the Kung Fu Panda series of movies. Its other inspirations are clear in the gameplay though — everything from Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which Ljungqvist acknowledged released shortly after development began, to Ratchet and Clank with its tech-enhanced furry critters. Ljungqvist also proudly displays his t-shirt showing Devil May Cry, another obvious inspiration for the fast-paced heavy-hitting sword and guns combat.
The “poster child” for the marketing footage has been an eye-patched Rocket Racoon-looking character wielding a long sword and toting a neck scarf. Ljungqvist clarifies that this character is just the studio’s version of the main protagonist, which will actually be player created from the ground up. Think the version of Dovahkiin on the Skyrim posters, or the buzzcut Shepard on the front of Mass Effect game covers. The customization of your own character runs deep, with the main restriction being that you are some form of furry rodent, in keeping with the game’s setting. The new trailer shows a range of characters, from a short furry rat in a karate gi throwing a katana, to something vaguely resembling a bat crossed with a kangaroo balancing on a bo staff. Also in the trailer, a vole-looking creature can be seen with a mohawk, making its head resemble a knight’s helmet, spinning a grappling hook around its body like a nunchuck.
Customization is a huge part of Biomutant’s appeal, and it seems Experiment 101 want players to experiment to their heart’s content. Not only is the look of your player character fully modifiable, but that extends to your gear, clothing, and weapons too. During the IGN trailer, we were exposed to a variety of strange looking armaments from the mallet-like Butcher’s Bonkabob to the Workman’s Splitslitter and even the Ancient Hilt Toothbrush Body. Dental Hygiene is apparently no joke. The weapons menu for all of these items clearly showed different parts being selected and crafting costs associated with each, with bonuses for stats such as rarity, quality and material. This is reminiscent of games like Dead Rising or Dying Light. Stefan Ljungvist confirmed that weapons will be craftable, with a deep expansive system for combining parts to make unique items. The same will apply to gear, and he gave examples of an oxygen mask for surviving toxic gases, or a jacket for warmth in cold areas.
Character growth outside of weapons and gear is important to Biomutant, and Ljungqvist refers to this as ‘morphing’ your character using DNA strands. During creation, body parts can be tweaked, and in previous reveals we were shown how gender, size, body shape, fur, fangs and other such parts factor into the combat. For example, a heavier character will move slower but hit harder while more nimble rodents will be able to move quickly around the battlefield. Ljungqvist was keen to express that the freedom of creativity goes beyond aesthetics, likening it to a roleplaying game where you may choose to roll a strong heavy hitter or a powerful intelligent psionic character or even a quick nimble samurai.
Combat is a combination of melee and ranged and, from the various encounters shown in the trailer, is a combination of Monster Hunter World and Devil May Cry, with the dodge and retaliate tactics of the former and the fast springy combos of the latter. Unlike its self-serious inspirations, Biomutant isn’t afraid to get a little weird with its combat though. A giant mechanic hand springs at enemies like a steampunk version of the Addam’s Family’s Thing, and our hero is seen rolling foes up into a giant bouncy bubble akin to a spontaneous game of Katamari Damacy.
Mounts and Bosses
As well as customizing your character, weapons, and gear, the new trailer also confirmed rideable mounts. We saw something resembling a spiny horse being ridden across the landscape, not unlike the horse riding in Breath of the Wild or Witcher 3. The trailer was also keen to show footage of the wing-gliding that can be used to quickly traverse the verticality of its environments, but we also saw travel via zip-lines, and a huge balloon-elevated platform.
We saw brief glimpses of a few mechs, which Ljungqvist confirmed will be used for specific boss fights. It’s unclear currently if these will be free to ride outside of these specific fights. Boss fights are scattered across the world, including the enormous World Eater bosses which act as gates into regions of the map. An “Outpost Cleared” screen suggests we’ll see areas of the game world that can be assailed and cleaned out, with control wrested from certain bosses. This could act in a similar way to how such features work in the Assassin’s Creed or Shadow of Mordor series. As for the bosses themselves, we see a three-headed pig-snouted bat wolf battling our hero in a boat over a lake. Another ocean battle takes place against a giant fluffy tortoise creature, with our protagonist in a crab-like underwater vessel of their own. One particular World Eater is a towering furred monstrosity, its face a blank mask of taut white skin and a set of teeth three times as big as the player character. Its name didn’t quite match the visage— Jumbo Puff. That’s to say nothing of the creature that best resembled an overgrown Stitch (yes, as in Lilo & Stitch) and was called a Flightfluff Jetspurt.
It’s this mash-up of cutesy child-like imagery and naming with the violent combat, lush environments, and deep customization that makes Biomutant stand out from its competitors and opened audience’s eyes when it was first revealed in 2017. The newest trailer gives no indication of a release date, advertising it as “Coming… When we are happy with it” and declaring release on PS4, Xbox One, and PC with no mention of either next gen consoles or Nintendo Switch.
Regardless of the eventual release date, Biomutant is an exciting prospect from a small team that looks to combine the best elements from a wide range of mainstream inspirations. There is a lot of hype for the game, and a lot of big promises being made, but if Experiment 101 can achieve even half of what its aiming for, Biomutant could be the biggest sleeper hit for the next couple of years.
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My earliest memories include stapling A4 papers together to make books to write on, and playing Super Mario on the NES with my brother. Now I play a huge variety of game genres, platforms and styles, from indie to AAA, from 2 hour experiences to 50 hour marathons, from RTS to FPS to RPG and every three letter acronym in-between.