Space Punks Preview
On the action front, Space Punks looks to have what it needs to be set up for success, so it just remains to be seen how its other elements work together with that action to make it a complete package.
Jagex Partners and Flying Wild Hog gave RPGamer the opportunity to attend a virtual press event for co-op action RPG Space Punks. During the event, we were able to learn more about the game and chat briefly to game director Michal Kuk.
Developer Flying Wild Hog elected to partner with Jagex for Space Punks largely because of Jagex’s experience with online service titles, most notably the MMORPG RuneScape that has been running for twenty years. It has been envisioned from the start as a title that will get frequent updates post-launch and which lets players drop in at will. The game is the developer’s first foray into action RPGs, with it previously being noted for fast-paced action titles such as the Shadow Warrior series and Hard Reset, but Space Punks very much continues with Flying Wild Hog’s template of fast-paced action.
The game will have four characters available at the start — Duke, Eris, Finn, and Bob — all mercenaries looking for fame and riches. Space Punks is aimed towards the space between melee-based action RPGs and top-down shooters — with Helldivers cited as an inspiration — and includes both ranged and melee weapons. Though the game is designed to be playable solo, players are encouraged to work together, with abilities designed to assist other players or even change when other characters are around; for example, Finn will convert Duke’s grenade attack to a large-scale air strike.
The gameplay shown was certainly not light on action and time to breathe during combat very much looked to be at a premium, culminating in a tense-looking boss fight where the party was in danger of wiping a couple of times. However, players will need to think and act smartly, such as keeping spread out to avoid area-of-effect attacks or intercepting additional enemies and making sure to revive allies who fall. Each character has their own archetype and skills; Duke is an all-rounder while Finn is more a tank.
To encourage replayability, bonus objectives and mission maps vary between runs, with different difficulty options also available that provide greater challenges and rewards. Crafting will be present in Space Punks and a useful way for players to spend their resources and use blueprints to create weapons with stats and mods that suit their character builds and playstyles. Each of the available characters has their own level. Levelling up lets players equip better gear and grants players points to spend on a talent tree, unlocking various abilities and bonuses, including some slots where players get to choose the upgrade. There are also multiple progression systems. In addition to the main Fame Road, there are daily and weekly contracts, as well as a trophy screen that grants rewards for longer-term goals such as defeating a certain number of missions or enemies.
There are some obvious comic book inspirations in the graphics, with the designs and vibrant use of colour joined by onomatopoeia pop-ups when attacks hit. The colourful visuals and continual action mean that it’s definitely not a dull game to look at, and the developer’s experience with explosions has certainly been put to use. The one area that remains most up in the air at present is the involvement of the story and setting, which likely won’t be known until the open beta. However, there are certainly some impressive-looking boss and plenty of varied enemies.
On the action front, Space Punks looks to have what it needs to be set up for success, so it just remains to be seen how its other elements work together with that action to make it a complete package. The partnership between Jagex and Flying Wild Hog looks suited for what both sides want to achieve with their respective expertise.
Space Punks will be a free-to-play online title, with players able to purchase cosmetic and convenience items. Founder’s Pack owners will be able to try it out first on PC Early Access on July 14, 2021, and the game will be exclusive to the Epic Games Store on PC for twelve months. An open beta will be available for everyone to access this winter, with a console release planned for 2022.