First Looks// Post-PAX Impressions: Guns of Icarus Online and Hand of Fate

Posted 22 Sep 2014 13:10 by
Sometimes Chris gets so busy the rest of us start to sweat just from following him on Twitter. He dug into a LOT of games over the course of PAX Prime 2014, and over the next week or so we're going to be bringing you his impressions. For Part 3 we've got Guns of Icarus Online and Hand of Fate...

Guns of Icarus Online by Muse Games

Guns of Icarus Online is an squad-based FPS set on a dirigible. It has a steampunk universe with airships, which the players crew, seemingly built using technology prevalent in the late 1800's. The world is not our own, however, as it is set in an alternate reality where the Earth has been ruined by an apocalyptic event that renders air-ships as the only means to traverse the barren landscapes.

The core hook to playing Guns of Icarus Online is being at the right place at the right time and doing what you're supposed to be doing at that precise moment. There is a very slight margin of error, but that margin narrows once the player is challenged with more competent and/or stronger opponents. Each airship has a number of stations on it, varying from simple gun mounts to the helm. There is also the engine and the pump that maintains the pressure to the hydrogen-filled balloon. You know, that same gas that kind of killed off airship travel thanks to the Hindenburg disaster.

Anyway, the game has gone through two generations, with the first being a single- and multiplayer co-op game that required the player to pilot an air-ship through dangerous zones to make deliveries and complete missions.

The second iteration is a player vs. player squad combat game with competing crews playing out death matches across the skies in various dirigibles. This is currently running with this mode of play and now there are plans to release a co-op horde mode to it. Players are required to work together closely to wipe out the rampaging bandits that attempt to take out the home base of the players. Many dirigible ships are working together, with four being shown off during the demonstration at PAX Prime 2014. Each dirigible had their own unique set of characteristics, which when combined with other ships made for a formidable force.

While playing Guns of Icarus Online I couldn't help but be impressed by how well it was put together and how it rewarded players for working together. This is not a game for the lone wolf at all, as each crew member plays a vital role in keeping the airship in the sky.

Iconography is used to great effect to inform players of the state of their airship, which allows those with the role of engineer to maintain the various components of the craft while jumping onto gun emplacements as is needed. It's far from plain sailing though, as split-second decisions need to be made on needing to repair guns over the airship's engines being a general constant.

There have been attempts to create team-based FPS games before with varying degrees of success - Brink being the most recent and sadly disastrous thanks to its broken UI and poorly designed levels that forced players into bottle-necks. Guns of Icarus Online veers away from these problems by having a relatively uncluttered interface and containing the players into a single space, that happens to be moving! These two key components make for some very engaging and fun experiences as the players work together towards a common goal, i.e. kill the other air-ships before they kill yours!

Guns of Icarus Online is out now on PC, Mac and Linux and the horde mode system is set to appear as a beta very soon. You'd be well advised to take a look at it as it's a very unique take on the squad-based FPS.
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