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Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden Preview

Posted by GG Goblin On November - 9 - 2018

Because a Duckman is so much more interesting than a generic resistance fighter.

 
With less than a month until launch, The Bearded Ladies’ Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden is starting to pick up steam. Based on a pen and paper RPG, the game is set in a post-apocalyptic future and casts the player as a group of mutants who are doing their best to keep their home, the Ark, from falling to ruin. So far, so interesting. But what will really make potential players’ ears prick up are phrases like “turn-based combat” and “XCOM-style”. Now I am getting excited.

 
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Having spent some time with an early build, Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden certainly has a lot going for it. The similarities with XCOM are obvious, but there are plenty of little differences that make this tactical, turn-based adventure different enough to prevent any accusations of copy and paste. Every other week a new game turns up that claims to be XCOM-like, and while some of them successfully carry over certain aspects of the popular game series, I have yet to find one that feels as compelling as the fight against alien invasion. Mutant Year Zero, so far, has left me wanting more.

 
So, the game is set in a post-apocalyptic future where pretty much every impending disaster, from climate change to nuclear war, has happened. There is some semblance of Humanity still around, but mutation has taken over and, as a result, the player will take control of a team that, to start with, consists of an angry humanoid boar, and a very cool humanoid duck. One of the first interesting changes to the well known formula is that players will only have a limited group of survivors for the whole game, rather than a constant stream of new recruits, which gives the player much more chance to invest and get to know these characters. I know, it might sound strange to get attached to a mutant duck, but conversations and cut scenes reveal some of the back story to these characters, and it gives them a depth that it is difficult not to care about.

 
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The big difference comes with the actual gameplay. Mutant Year Zero is not the first game to combine turn-based battles with open exploration, but I think it may be the most successful so far. The player is dropped into an area and can move around their team with total freedom, exploring and even finding loot while wandering. From this control point, players are able to spot potential enemies in the area, which brings up various options. There is a whole stealth aspect to the game, and the characters may be able to sneak past enemies with activating combat, as long as they are not spotted. They are also able to hide and set traps, maybe taking out some of the outlying enemies before starting the combat, making life that little bit easier for themselves.

 
The controls work well, everything is fairly self explanatory and, best of all, the transition from open exploration to turn-based combat is nice and smooth, something other games have struggled with. Once you enter the combat, things are much more familiar with things like part and full cover and even overwatch. There is a lot more importance on the combat, due to the limited character pool, and so the encounters feel more tense, especially if the player hasn’t taken advantage of the chance to remove some enemies before the combat begins. The balancing seems good so far though, as one early mission saw my boar and duck take on what ended up being six enemies in a small area with a cabin, and I managed to keep them alive, although it was touch and go for a while.

 
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Once the combat is over, the player is free to continue with their exploration, which is quite a difference from being airlifted back to a central hub. Characters can find all manner of scrap and interesting objects as they explore, including new weapons that can be upgraded, and consumables that will need to be replaced if used, such as grenades or med kits. Characters are also able to level up and gain new abilities, from relatively mundane improvements to their combat skills, to the more exotic such as moth wings for the duck. A duck with moth wings! C’mon, what’s not to like?

 
Look, I am constantly on the hunt for a new XCOM experience, and Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden really has my attention. Sure, the quirky setting may not have the same level of seriousness, and what I have played feels like it needs a bit of polish yet. But Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden is launching on December 4th, for PC, Xbox One and PS4, so it won’t be long before players can make their own minds up. For my money, Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden is going to be a big hit, and I am excited to watch it evolve.

 


 
Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden launches on December 4th for PC, Xbox One and PS4. The PC version is available to pre-order in both standard and deluxe edition. Check it out!

 

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