PREVIEW – We discovered Mutant Year Zero, the new strategic bet of The Bearded Ladies, a studio made up of former game developers like Hitman and Payday who turn into turn-based strategy, in true XCOM style, but following their own path, which promises. Focus more on exploration and freedom of action!
There is no doubt that the X-COM series of games has created a school. In just over five years since the license came back, strategy games and turn-based bouts have flourished, with examples such as The Banner Saga, Invisible Inc. or Shadowrun Returns. Moreover, the truth is that we love it. Even more so when its developers not only try to emulate these mechanics but mix them with something fresh and different. Moreover, from what we have seen of Mutant Year Zero, that is exactly what the newly formed The Bearded Ladies claim.
A true classic!
Some players may not yet know that Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is not a new license, but a classic pencil-and-paper role-playing game. Based on a post-apocalyptic future, humanity has mutated both in their body and in their minds, achieving superhuman abilities, but also creating terrible monsters.
You only need to see a few minutes of the gameplay shown by Funcom to realize that the game has its personality and different notables with their gender counterparts. Here much attention has been paid to exploration as the main element, before moving on to combat. Inspect the Zone happens in real time, being able to handle our characters without moving around by boxes. Of course, once we go to combat, things will be more leisurely and familiar. Let’s see, step by step, everything that Mutant Year Zero has to offer.
The video game will collect all the rich background of this 1984 classic, in this case focusing on life in the Ark’s refuge, the last bastion in which humanity can live safe from the dangers caused by the nuclear disaster. Because beyond the Ark is the area, a devastated place where mutants and other dangers take refuge. Also, the best place to collect resources that make our lives easier.
Chatting with The Bearded Ladies, the developers have assured us that every character we have seen in their demo videos (and those that remain to be seen) will have their own defined personality and history in this post-apocalyptic world. Unlike XCOM, we can not create new soldiers, but we will have a set of pre-designed characters, although completely customizable, that will have their own history and different way of being.
Obviously, our main objective is to survive. The Ark may be humanity’s last hope, but it is not managed alone. Needs the stalkers to collect all kinds of resources. The legends speak, however, of a place called Eden, devised by the ancients to survive in this world, and where the truth of what happened in the world is hidden.
- Based on the Swedish pencil and paper role-playing game of 1984.
- A post-apocalyptic setting with mutated humans.
- Two key places: the Ark and the Zone. Our base and the surrounding area were to choose different missions.
- Defined characters with their personality and background.
Reconnaissance mission, in real time
To understand Mutant Year Zero better, you have to think more regarding roleplay than in turn-based strategy game. Like titles like the fabulous Divinity: Original Sin, in which we freely explore the environment to give rise to turn-based fighting, Funcom’s new game organically mixes exploration and adventure with strategic combats. We will be able to wander around the different parts of the Zone, in real time, finding new weapons, roads, and scraps of information. The characters will enliven the journey with their comments, and once the enemies make eye contact with us, the combat will begin.
Thus, we are allowed to plan battles well in advance or even avoid them in some moments. The Zone is a place full of dangers, and the most important thing is to recognize the land well. For example, in one of the fights that the developers showed us, exploring the place well rewards us with the possibility of hacking a robot to also attack the enemies. Looking good around us will also allow us to avoid traps and find trunks with better equipment.
In the Ark, we can improve our units, changing all kinds of weapons and attire for combat, as well as improve their skills or add some new ones, so the progression in battles is assured. Of course, we asked the guys at The Bearded Ladies if there was some basis in the game, as the views on an XCOM, and the answer was negative. In Mutant Year Zero they want us to spend more time in the Zone than in the Ark, so there is no creation and management of buildings. All of them will be predefined and will be unlocked to equip us better.
- Free and real-time exploration.
- Alternative ways to accomplish the mission.
- Loot hidden in the scenarios.
- Collection of resources to buy and create objects and accessories.
What we will do most in Mutant Year Zero will be fight. Fortunately, we can prepare ourselves before entering the contest. Prepare the positions of each of the characters will be vital to have an advantage, since we can only carry three heroes in total, although there will be fifteen characters to choose from. Stealth, then, will be essential to reach the high areas, the best coverage and to make a good ambush that allows us to start with some advantage, since the enemies will be very numerous, and it will be important to finish dangerous units, if It’s possible, before things get complicated.
Once the fight starts, things become very familiar to XCOM players, with a system of grids, turns and actions very similar to the work of Firaxis. Again, the percentages of success with weapons influence and much. We have guard positions, recharge and special abilities that will allow us to perform the classic run and shoot, for example. We have asked its developers if there is a permanent death option for our units and the answer is “it depends”. In normal difficulties, allies who die in combat are injured and may recover in subsequent missions, although there will be a mode of difficulty with permanent death.
Mutant skills will be key and one of the most interesting aspects of combat. One of our partners, who mutated with a pig, is a tank unit able to harden his skin and absorb a lot of damage during a turn, so it will be ideal for short distances. In the same game, the duck, on the other hand, was much better for the long distance. Armed with his sniper rifle, he benefited from moth wings to skip coverages and improve his critical chance. It will be vital to make good use of each of these mutations and create a good balance between them to emerge victorious from each of the matches.
- Use of stealth to avoid or plan combats.
- Combat inspired by XCOM, with turns and action points.
- Original mutant skills to face combat in many ways.
- Fifteen characters to choose and customize both physically and their mutant skills.
What you should know
- Developed by The Bearded Ladies, former developers of Hitman and Payday.
- Turn-based strategy very similar to XCOM, but with strong doses of real-time exploration.
- Based on the license of Mutant Year Zero, with a strong history component.
- Abundant use of stealth to plan battles and strategy or avoid them.
- Different missions and objectives in the Zone with a variety of locations.
- Mutated characters to choose from and customize, with their own character and background.
- Launch in 2018 to be determined for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Developer: The Bearded Ladies Consulting
Genre: Strategy, Turn-Based, RPG
Relase date: 2018