Until None Remain is flaunting its rendition of the Battle Royale style game on Steam Early Access this winter. Here are our impressions so far.
On paper, Until None Remain ticks a lot of boxes for me. Sci-fi setting, decent graphics, the promise of some decent multiplayer shooter action. It has elements of scavenging for weapons and last man standing style gameplay (a la Battlegrounds style games). So I was quite excited to fire this one up.
The excitement initially turned to disappointment after I was left on my own in the lobby. Stood up by the internet community, all clearly with better things to do than play this Early Access title. I was stood at my table, looking around the metallic room, tapping my foot. Thinking about what I was going to have for dinner. I then watched the ironic Las Vegas-style announcement screen on the wall telling me how many contestants there are in the match currently. “1 Contestant” it said. things did not bode well.
I had to press on though, see what the game was about despite the lack of players. So I loaded into the map and pressed tab to see if any bots had come into the fray to join me. Lo and behold, Baron Willis (Bot) came to join in the fun, shortly followed by Bad News Boris (Bot). The latter really was bad news.
When I eventually found him on the expansive alien/ desert map, I almost thought he was friendly on account of him just being stood there staring at me. Then out of the blue, he begins to open fire (Bloody hell Boris, lull me into a false sense of security why don’t you?). He does seem a bit unwell though, largely due to the not wanting to move from his spot or do much else other than shoot in my direction. Guess I won’t be having any fun with these bots then; where are the Westworld bots when you need em?
This is an over-the-shoulder 3rd person shooter, with a functional inventory system, a functional UI. Nothing particularly fresh but stuff you’d expect and would sorely miss if it wasn’t there. If this game was to release as-is and had many players, it might just hold together and probably be a pretty fun game to kill a few hours. It still needs a lot of work and as it currently stands, only has 2 maps (indoor and outdoor).
Speaking of the maps, they could use some refinement. The outdoor map is much too large with no major landmarks, so you’re reliant on the mini-map to give you an idea of where you are. Battle Royale games need flashpoints of action dotted around the map, to draw players to certain areas. To do this you need memorable locations, you need areas with lots of loot and areas where you can run and hide. Stuff that can be easily fixed.
The indoor map suffers the same issues, lots of carbon copy rooms and long corridors, and big open warehouses with nothing really that distinct in them. I’m sure the maps are currently serving as a test-bed for the gameplay at the minute, so there’s likely going to be lots of tweaks.
What the game does have is the Battle Royale trope of an ever-shrinking playable area. It highlights these changes by counting down the game “Rounds”. When a round ends, the safe area shrinks, and it does this instantly. No running away from the blue-barriers of infinite pain in this game. Initially, it wasn’t overly clear this was happening, so I learned the hard way.
Computer control turrets also litter the maps, placed in very unusual places. They are very easy to kill mind. I get the need to mix things up a bit and present more of a challenge to the player, but I think there should be a reward for having to put up with the irritating AI feature. Maybe blowing up the turret should give loot, or give you access to an area that has a really good gun or armour in it or something.
Until None Remain has a science fiction/ futuristic setting. So we’re talking sliding sci-fi doors akin to Unreal Tournament, superhuman soldiers with athletic ability like Master Chief from Halo and futuristic items and power-ups. So you will be using things like Jet Packs, Continuous Beam Weapons, Shock-guns, Tele-Grenades, Armor, Energy Shielding, Mine Launchers, Power Ups, Hover Bikes, Poisonous Gas Pods, Turrets, etc. Fairly standard stuff, with some of it feeling a lot more necessary than others. For example, the hoverbike definitely gets you around quickly on the map but doesn’t do any more than that, and I won’t speak of the animation or lack of.
The game is very slick-looking, and I’d expect nothing less of a game built in the Unreal 4 engine. An engine that also means this will run silky smooth on mid-low end rigs out there. The outdoor map, effects and even the animation of the characters remind me very much of the Mass Effect series. This is a familiar and safe style choice, but I can’t help but think that this game could do with something a bit more unique to give it more of an identity.
It’s very difficult to recommend this game at this point. Despite it being an Early Access title, it is missing the kind of polish many gamers will expect after putting down some hard earned cash. But perhaps that feeling would wash away if I was fighting against real people and not these lifeless bots. It just needs that spark, a few gameplay videos or streams out there.
I would very much like to give this game a try with a full room of players so I will be keeping an eye on things. The developer does seem very engaged with his audience and responds promptly in the Steam Forum discussions. Regular patches are also coming out which is a very good sign and shows that the creator wants this game to succeed.
Stay posted for more news on Until None Remain and other shooters of the same ilk by checking our Previews and News sections.