Hard Reset Preview

Ever since developer Flying Wild Hog announced Hard Reset, their new PC-exclusive shooter, I’ve been wanting to get my hands on it. This weekend, I was able to play through a preview build of the new title.

When you first jump in, Hard Reset impresses right away. The game‘s visuals are very good, conjuring up a dystopian future where man is doing battle against machines. Very little time (in this build, anyway) is dedicated to storytelling. Instead, there’s a lot of time dedicated to shooting lots and lots of mechanical monsters. Hard Reset’s enemies are wave upon wave of killer robots, ranging from small rolling drones that follow you around and detonate themselves to a massive 150-foot-tall Atlas robot that you fight at the conclusion of the preview build we played.

Shooting is where Hard Reset really shines. Rather than provide you with an arsenal of weapons to pick up and tote around, it offers up two weapons. One fires bullets, the other energy projectiles. If that sounds rather limiting, please standby. You see, as you progress through the game, you’ll earn credits for kills, as well as finding credits in hidden spaces that you expose using environmental explosives. Gather enough credits, and you’ll unlock an upgrade point.

Upgrades are at the core of Hard Reset’s weapon mechanics. When you spend your points, you’ll gain the ability to transform your assault rifle-like weapon into a shotgun or RPG. The energy weapon becomes an EMP generator, or even an electric mortar (my personal favorite). You can also upgrade your personal combat gear to gain extra health, cause ammo and shields to regenerate, and other useful things.

The actual mechanics of gunplay recall the days of shooters like Unreal Tournament. There’s no reload button, simply a pool of ammo that you can fire through in one massive burst if you so desire. You grab more ammo by simply running over pickups, just like in the old days.

While the mechanics, concepts, and weapons are all extremely cool, Hard Reset does have a few spots that still need a little polish. First off, learning the way to switch weapons quickly can be daunting. Each of your weapons is bound to a key, and then you can either scroll your mouse wheel or use the number keys to select a weapon mode. Where it can get awkward is when you want to switch from your shotgun to the electric mortar. There’s no key to press to jump right to a specific mode on the weapon that you aren’t using.

Secondly, character movement feels just a bit sluggish. Nearly every enemy will charge you, and it’s difficult to avoid some of them no matter how quick your fingers are. Even after making control and sensitivity adjustments, it feels like the game is set with character movement at about 3/4 of normal speed. However, neither of these issues makes the game any less fun to play.

Hard Reset at this stage looks like a game that I will totally love when it releases next month. It’s old school gameplay on top of a gorgeous game world. It’s got everything it needs to succeed, especially if a few tweaks are made to address the small issues mentioned earlier. Since Flying Wild Hog isn’t worrying with a console release or with multiplayer, it’s clear that they’re looking to give the core PC gamer a singleplayer experience like we haven’t seen in a long time.

Hey, there’s nothing at all wrong with that.

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