Raiders of the Broken Planet Receiving F2P Reboot
For those of you that were also unaware of this game’s existence before its Free to Play announcement, you’re not alone. I had no idea that this title was even a thing until I saw a YouTube ad for its reboot, and at that point, I had to give it a try before the relaunch. For the unaware, Raiders of the Broken Planet is sometimes-asymmetrical sometimes-co-op, sometimes-competitive, part-shooter, part-brawler, part-infuriating-loot-grind-fest (phew!), set in the distant future on a planet that contains the only source of a superfuel that can supercharge starships and people. Now, to explain that giant hyphenated mess of a description will take a moment. Its sometimes-asymmetrical nature is due to the fact that its most basic game mode is a four-player co-op shooter, in which a four-player squad clears a map of its objectives against an AI enemy. The asymmetrical element comes into play when, before the start of a mission, the squad can be alerted to the arrival of a fifth player who takes the “antagonist” role. The antagonist’s sole goal in the mission is simply to prevent the raider squad from completing as many of its objectives as possible, whether by running the time down, or by completely depleting their respawns and then successfully squad-wiping them, or by sabotaging their attempts to complete objectives. Now, the one nice thing about this element in the game is that it greatly affects the loot earned by both groups of players. Win or lose, teams typically gain a better reward if they had to contend against an antagonist, and of course, the antagonist is rewarded by getting a chance to earn one of those sweet, sweet, rare weapon blueprints. Okay, now onto a bit more detail regarding the core gameplay elements of Raiders of the Broken Planet.
Raiders of the Broken Planet’s gameplay is very satisfying. The gunplay mechanics are straightforward and satisfying for most characters. Certain characters strongly feel like they need to unlock specific guns to become truly useful. The brawling mechanics make every character feel like they have a reliably effective fallback in case they get caught without ammunition. The biggest thing that I can say I like about this game is that there seem to be no heavily defined roles, and that each character feels unique and flavorful. There are styles of play that each character seems to gravitate towards, such as mob suppression, heavy hunter, and drawing fire. What faction a character is connected with also affects the way they play as well, which is neither a crippling weakness nor a shining strength.
Beyond gunplay, the mission and game construction isn’t too shabby either. The game’s campaigns were released in an episodic format, and will be made permanently unlockable on August 23rd as per their transition to an F2P format. Objectives and map construction are static, and enemy spawns seem to be relatively consistent, so the gameplay loop seems to have a serious risk of getting stale, but so far I’ve found the missions to be a solid mix of engaging and challenging. The cutscenes, oh my, the cutscenes are a very entertaining mix, incredibly well animated and easy on the eyes, and a very entertaining parody of the gritty sci-fi western future and a semi-serious attempt at story writing using the same characters. Overall I would say that the cutscenes are a complete blast to watch and that you should try to watch them all at least once, because if you don’t, then you’re missing out on a good chunk of this game’s entertainment value.
Where to start with the weaker points of this game? I won’t sugarcoat it, Raiders of the Broken Planet has a lot of room to grow with its F2P conversion. The first and most heinous issue that it has, in my opinion, is rooted in its loot distribution system. Did you finally get a sweet rare gun to drop in the mission rewards screen? Did you and someone else both select it as your mission reward? Congratulations, one of you gets the blueprint, the other doesn’t. Awesome, right? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. I think the fact that you can only select one of the three potential rewards for a mission is a serious drawback, which is compounded by the fact that you have to share whatever reward you select (gold/faction coins) with anyone else in your squad. While the rewards, if you manage to be the only one to receive it, are fairly generous, they are greatly diminished by the loot share system the game implements. The other big issue outside of the realm of gameplay regards their current model for mission unlocks. Missions that haven’t been purchased in a DLC pack can only be rented, unless they are the free mission of the week. The drawback to this system is that finding a squad for any of the missions outside of the free missions of the week is unsurprisingly hard, since most of the player base exclusively sticks to the free content. When looking at their new model, they suggest that you can unlock content at a rate of approximately 8-20 hours per campaign and 8-20 hours per character, which looks pretty daunting, but I must say it’s much better than the current model. One can only hope.
The only issues in the realm of gameplay that I have experienced are that certain characters don’t feel that effective unless you happen to have one of the more specialized weapon unlocks that allow you to modify their fighting style. This problem, if you haven’t already guessed it, ties into how the loot system frustratingly forces you to compete with your teammates for loot. First, you have to get a blueprint to drop, easily helped along by slotting the Treasure Hunter ability into one your already possessed blueprints. Once a blueprint drops, you need it to be the one you want from the pool of potential drops. If you get lucky enough to get the blueprint you want, you have to pray to whatever source of fortune you believe in that you are either a) the only person to select it, or b) the lucky schmuck who gets the item. All that severely limits a player’s abilities to upgrade and customize their character. We’ll see if their F2P launch on the 23rd has enough good changes to turn this game around.
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