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Hands-on: Side-scrolling multiplayer shooter SquadBlast is similar to 2D Overwatch

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It’s hard to stand out in today’s crowded games market, especially in the highly competitive, make-or-break multiplayer landscape. We don’t envy any developer who is currently producing a game that requires thousands of players to log in every day. However, the right combination of interesting concept and good execution can do just the trick, and SquadBlast may be onto something.

Ultra Horse’s enthusiasm for its side-scrolling multiplayer shooter is palpable. The game is essentially a 2D hero shooter, featuring a handful of unique characters, all with their own weapons and mastery skills. Although the version of the game we played is still quite early, we sampled two or three different modes, including objective-based affairs like payloads and conquest. On paper, it doesn’t sound all that exciting, but once we figured out how it all worked, we had a lot of fun.

Let’s rewind a bit, though. Anatolyz Ropotovs, CEO and founder of Ultra Horse, and game director on the title, provides some context: “SquadBlast is a side-scrolling tactical shooter set in 2041, where squads fight against corporate and government monopolies. falls, defending itself. This time. The troops are here to rebuild this broken world,” he tells us.

The result is up to 5 vs 5 matches with your class and weapon making a big difference in how you play. We tried a number of characters but had the most success with the healer, who wields an assault rifle and pistol, and whose special ability heals allies in a very wide radius. Others use shotguns which, in a 2D game where you can’t see beyond the onscreen, seems like a wise choice. Among all the weapons and unique abilities, there is a decent amount of variety.

It helps a lot that SquadBlast feels good to play. The controls are fairly simple, with thumb sticks moving around for movement and aiming, a generous double jump, and almost FPS-style controls like the right trigger to shoot and square to reload, for example. Ropotovs explains that the aim is to create a serialized version of the brawler ie Super Smash Bros.It should be easy to pick up and have fun with but also feature a degree of depth for competitive players.

He says that games similar to SquadBlast don’t necessarily have that depth: “There were some games e.g. Soldat, or the later excellent… They haven’t gotten as deep as first-person shooters. Maybe they didn’t have the full spectrum of abilities, or they weren’t well balanced. As we approached making this game, we thought we could improve every little experience in it [genre]It’s clearly important to Robotovs that the game serves hardcore as well as casual users, and things like the inclusion of rollback netcodes speak to that.

Our gameplay experience was incredibly smooth, and as we got to grips with our favorite healing character, little hidden features began to emerge, enforcing that idea of ​​depth. Depending on which character you play you can dodge enemy fire, parry, or you can slide down slopes to gain speed, to explore on certain maps. There are hidden power-ups – there’s more to the game than just aiming. And shooting, which makes it surprisingly dynamic.

A large part of Striking seems to be that easy-to-pick-up, difficult-to-master balance is informed by player feedback. “Since this is our first title, we’ve spent a lot of time with players at events and see what sticks and what doesn’t,” says Ropotovs. “We tried different gameplay styles, weapons and abilities to find out what the gamers of 2022 want to play.” The classes are shaped in part by the experiences of these players, such as the basic soldier class carrying a homing missile weapon to help newcomers who may struggle to aim.

From what we’ve played, the game has real potential to fill a niche. Every mode is fun, it runs very smoothly, and experimenting with different characters shows that there’s more to it than meets the eye. SquadBlast is coming to PS5 and PS4 in the future, but a playtest is currently taking place on Steam.


Are you excited about SquadBlast? What do you think about this genre of competitive shooter? Let us know in the comments section below.

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