Biomutant Xbox Series X review: Animal Instincts

THQ Nordic’s return to gaming (following its initial bankruptcy in 2012) was pretty epic, to say the least. Not only was the company revisiting many of its great franchises, but it also intended to take chances on new ones. And that includes Experiment 101’s Biomutant.

Initially announced in 2017 (!), this adventure took its sweet time to come out. However that’s forgivable, considering the development team consists of just around 20 people or so. And now that it’s finally arrived, we can see the fruit of its labor – and what sweet fruit it is.

Biomutant is a game that takes you by surprise, even if it does take a little bit to get started. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity has wiped itself out (surprised?), and animals have taken over. Except now trouble brews, as the Tree of Life, which keeps the planet thriving, is dying. What’s worse, some tribes are all for everything coming to a perilous close; and there are nasty Worldeaters inhabiting corners of the country, threatening to destroy everything. It’s up to a lone animal hero – your character – to kick butt and save the day.

The gameplay featured in Biomutant is a real treat. Close-quarters combat is pretty good, mixing up different kung fu (cat fu?) techniques for your hero, including spinning attacks that are useful against larger enemies. Yet the real treat comes with the power-up items, including a metallic hand that can dish out extra damage, as well as some sweet firearms that you pick up along the way. What’s more, you can take them apart and actually make new badass weapons, provided your crafting skills are up to speed. Fortunately, the game educates you on how to get the job done – and soon you’ll be owning the planet.

There’s a great deal of variety in the missions as well, including entertaining side quests that can earn you bonuses, as well as a cool morale system that either lets you become the world’s savior, or a complete, stubborn pain in the tail. The choice is yours, with different options available. I do wish they had more weight over the course of your journey, but it’s cool to either save a tribe or watch it rip to shreds.

Just one thing, though – the conversations can drag out a bit. There are times when you just want to get through things and get to the next mission, but can’t because a character can drone on longer than expected. Those that enjoy context may live what they have to say, but others will wonder when they get finished so you can get back to the missions that matter.

Regardless, the controls handle very well, for the most part, particularly with the sweet parry system and the ability to chain together some killer combos, between your feral abilities and other moves. You’ll need to master them, too, because the Worldeaters put up an incredible challenge if you’re not ready for it.

On the Xbox Series X, Biomutant feels right at home. The game looks gorgeous on the platform, running at a brisk 60 frames per second and packed with enough open-world beauty to fill two games. The animations are also sharp, though there are times that the character textures can be a bit jittery. (It’s not too bad tho.) The loading times aren’t bad either, though that may depend on whether you’re installing the game on older hardware or not. We didn’t get to test it on Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

As for sound, it’s excellent. There’s wonderful narration throughout the game, though, again, it can drone on a bit long in spots; the music is worth a listen and quite atmospheric at times; and the sound effects, though a bit on the small side, deliver where needed. Part of me wanted to hear the characters have voices, but, then again, that might’ve taken away from the realism theme at hand here.

For its first game, Experiment 101 has done a splendid job with Biomutant. It’s not perfect, and it sure took its sweet time getting here; but the overall experience delivers in spades. The combat system is exciting, the crafting system is really well done (complete with leveling up for your character to boot), and the presentation is mostly sharp. It’s also got a lot to do. We’re several hours in and still finding awesome stuff. Biomutant is a fine example of the adage “it’s worth the wait,” and further proof that THQ Nordic is here to stay.

RATING: 8.5/10

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning Review

Turning back the clock 9 years ago, a solid action RPG, known as Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, came out on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The game was developed by Big Huge Games and 38 Studios, and published with the help of EA. The game had a very successful launch with reviews that landed the game a big 9/10 from IGN and an 81 on Meta, but for whatever reason, we did not see anything more from the franchise. IGN speculated that reports advised massive layoffs which resulted in the sequel to be canceled, and things stayed silent until the year 2020, in which the remastered version of the game released with updated stunning visuals and refined gameplay. This remaster was refreshing in bringing back the MMO-like gameplay that we all loved so much in our single-player title. You can buy this masterpiece on all current generation and last generation platforms for only $39.99, and it’s worth every penny. 

Image

For players that never experienced the original game, the remastered version is the best place to start. Kingdoms of Amalur is set in the Faelands, a kingdom that is home to the immortal Fae of the Summer and Winter Courts. Essentially rather than passing on, souls are reborn in a new body. Players get to embark on their journey as a customizable character that becomes the “Fateless One”, who was supposed to have died but was successfully revived in an experiment led by Foromous Hugues, a gnome scientist. The kingdoms are torn in a war between the mortals and Winter Fae that players are dropped right in the middle of, literally. Because of the main character’s lack of fate, they decide to journey to find Hugues in hopes of uncovering the mystery of your death and also aid in the war along the way.

This game is fantastic for those that love old-school action RPGs like the Elder Scrolls series, and those who love MMOs like classic WoW. Once players enter the open-world part of the game, there is no clear path for the game, because players get to decide if they want to continue on the main quest or complete tasks, faction quests, or side quests. Every region is huge and loaded with endless adventures, and the main character is not tied down to any specific path. Players also get to choose “their fate” meaning their class. One can change and customize as they go, unlocking different advanced tiers from basic classes. For example when players cross between a rogue and a sorcerer disciple or even a tier 3 arcanist. This game is designed where there is no intended set class, and players can choose how they want to play without being locked into one role.

The remaster does not change much to the game, aside from some smaller or underlying changes like most remasters do. Many complain that the game is the same, but that is the difference between a remaster and a remake. So for players that were looking for major changes, this is not the game for you. The graphics are a lot sharper compared to the original game, and a lot more contrast and detail were added making the game look crisper than the first. Level lock no longer exists like the first game and the experience reward system has been changed to further balance the game. Loot is also now more catered to your designed character instead of randomly generated so players will find use in most of what they pick up. Load times are one complaint I found often from other players, but that is more based on the platform gamers are playing on. I played on my PS5 and honestly found no issues.

The only changes I would have liked to see are in the number of overwhelming fetch quests. I loved side content when it comes to any RPG, especially open-world RPGS. However, this game is filled to the brim with side quests and tasks, especially fetch quests. When players visit towns, they are immediately bombarded with on average 4 to 5 quests that are split between menial tasks (slaying monsters or gathering items), and helping out NPCs with missing persons or aiding in their troubles. This would not be a problem with there were not like 10 towns in the immediate area and players also have their faction quests. As some players might overlook this and skip some quests, completionists like myself end up pulling their hair out. It also can end up extremely overbearing for new players. Trimming down on some of this redundant quests would have been a better balance for this remastered version.

To revisit the visuals and performance, the game can be a bit buggy. For example, I got major Oblivion vibes when an NPC randomly glitched in front of me and I saw nothing but this head and arms in the sky. Overall though the performance is solid, and the animations look clear and crisp. The music creates an even better calm atmosphere, immersing players into what can be described as the ultimate fantasy experience. I also have had no framerate issues with the game which is oddly something I was expecting.

Image

In conclusion, I loved this remastered version of the game. Kingdoms of Amalur was already a fantastic ARPG for its time, and to be able to revisit this title was not only nostalgic but also very enjoyable. The subtle changes greatly improve players’ experiences with the game while also keeping its classic playstyle that was popular for that period of time. Though the game can be a bit buggy like many RPGs can be, and there were not many changes as far as visuals go, this was a great remaster and I can’t get enough from it. 

DVS Score: 8/10