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Dreadlands (Early Access)

Posted by GG Goblin On April - 21 - 2020

Build a gang and rule the post-apocalyptic world.

 
Early Access games are always a bit of a risk. Launching only part way through development can lead to games never being finished, or changing directions part way through into something that the player didn’t really want to start with. However, there is also that possibility of being in the game as it grows into something quite amazing, and games that launch on Steam Early Access in a playable, and enjoyable, state can take the player on an incredible journey through development. For fans of the XCOM style of gameplay, Blackfox Studios’ Dreadlands not only has the potential to be something really special, but is already very playable and a lot of fun.

 


 
Dreadlands has only been on Steam Early Access for just over a month, but already it has had two updates that served to both squash bugs and add more content. The developers at Blackfox Studios are committed to the game and seem to be working hard on the game, and have plenty of new content and features still to add, not that Dreadlands is short on content already, but for those players who invest, there is plenty to look forward to.

 
So, what is Dreadlands? Well, take a cup of XCOM and give it some Borderlands flavouring, along with a couple of surprise ingredients, and Dreadlands is the resulting beverage. In a post-apocalyptic world, the player will take control of a gang from three different factions, each with their own style and story. As of right now, only two of the factions are available, with the third faction coming further down the line. Players can choose from a nature-worshipping tribe or a mismatched group of junk fans. Each of these factions plays quite differently, with the tribe having animal gang members for example, along with their own story for the player to follow, and their own lore.

 
The setting is post-apocalyptic, and it really shows. The visual style used by the developers really does shout Borderlands, preferring more colour and “junkiness” to many post-apocalyptic games. This is most obvious in the looks of the gang members, with armour and clothing looking very eclectic, and weapons seemingly botched together from whatever was close at hand. The areas across which the player does battle are covered with the sort of debris that would be expected in this type of world, with abandoned buildings and containers, to scrapped cars and random barrels. Outside of battles, the player will be spending their time travelling across the impressive overworld map, which will offer all sorts of encounters, along with access to the home base and the marked story missions. This map is once again nicely done and feels quite alive, with plenty to see and do. The home base fits the theme of the gang, and will allow players a place to heal up their gang members, hire new members, and do some crafting.

 


 
Preparation can be key in Dreadlands, as the most important equipment is not easy to come by. Sure, new weapons and armour can be found or purchased, but ammunition is severely lacking. Stocking up whenever is possible would be a good idea, as would keeping a good supply of bandages for healing purposes. Dreadlands puts much more emphasis on melee in battle than other games of this genre, and so running short of ammo is not the end of the world. The game also deals with injury in an interesting way, with gang members who are downed or executed during a battle being given wounds rather than being lost altogether, requiring treatment and rest before they are back to full strength.

 
Aside from the more emphasis on melee, genre fans will find the combat encounters mostly familiar. Gang members will be placed on the map and then the player will be able to use their action points for a variety of uses, such as moving them, firing a gun, reloading, applying bandages or unjamming a weapon. There is freedom in what order the action points are used, allowing shooting followed by movement if that is what the player wants. As always, staying in cover as much as possible is essential, and there is an overwatch mechanic to take pot shots at any enemy that moves in their turn. Players are given a percentage chance of landing a shot and should probably get used to missing as much as landing that shot in the early game.

 
The turn-based battles are given a slight twist with the use of tactics cards. Dreadlands makes use of cards, but not like many of the current drop of card games out there. Instead, they represent advantages that the player can use during battle, and offer all manner of potentially outcome changing results. The player gets to choose their small deck from the cards available, and can then play them when they come up in battle, with effects from instantly healing a gang member, to laying traps for the enemy. They are a unique idea that can often turn the tide of battle, and new cards are being regularly added for players to include in their deck.

 
With customisation options and levelling up of gang members, loot to gather and make use of, and a story to follow, there is already a lot going on in Dreadlands. However, there is also the option to take the game online and be part of a shared world, with the potential for co-op and PvP with other players. This is optional though, and so solo players can enjoy the Dreadlands on their own.

 


 
Dreadlands is off to a flying start, offering an interesting and varied world with enjoyable turn-based skirmishes. There appears to be a lot more to come in Dreadlands, but jumping in right now will not be disappointing to fans of the genre. I am very excited to see what else is to come in Dreadlands, so head over to Steam Early Access and check the game out now.

 

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