Atlas Fallen Review

I have had my beady little eye on Atlas Fallen for a while now, pretty much since taking in a showcase trailer many moons ago. Immediate interest was helped by the fact that this has been put together by the developers at Deck 13 Interactive (they of The Surge fame) and published by Focus Entertainment. 

Atlas Fallen is an open world, third person action adventure that features drop in, drop out cooperative gameplay. So, is this worthy of your time? Or are you better waiting for something else to come over the horizon? Well, that is what I aim to tell you, so come with me to a world of sand and combat!

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It’s the combat which will draw you in to Atlas Fallen

Story is always needed in this genre of games, and luckily Atlas Fallen has got you covered here. We are Unnamed as the story begins, a nobody slave basically, there to work and be discarded like a dirty rag. At least, that was our fate until we find a strange Gauntlet, transformed into a Gauntlet Bearer. With the Gauntlet comes a voice, Nyaal, and we are then set on a course that is going to lead us into conflict with the established world, ruled over by a god called Thelos. 

Along the way we will find all manner of allies and enemies, and take our Gauntlet from strength to strength, upgrading and repairing it. And as that Gauntlet becomes stronger, so do we – but also so do the enemies we face, the Wraiths. The scene is set for an epic showdown, and while I’m not going to spoil the story, it kept me playing right through till the bitter end. 

Presentation is, on the whole, very good indeed. There’s nothing like climbing to the highest point you can find and gazing in awe at the size of the world. In fact, in Atlas Fallen you can pretty much go anywhere within. If you can see something, you can usually get there, and with about a million different things to pick up, the journeys through the world are always interesting. From castles to sand dunes and deserts, from swamps to underground cities, there is no shortage of places to look around. 

The design of the wraiths we face is always interesting too, ranging from tiny annoying bird types right up to Elite level wraiths that have their own names; the sheer range of designs is amazing to see. Although whoever came up with the Shellbasher enemies is now off my Christmas card list forever!

Atlas Fallen helps by ensuring that the camera is infinitely adjustable to give you the best view of the action. By and large, it works very well. However, it does struggle to sometimes keep up with the sheer speed of the combat, especially when fighting aerial foes like the Tailwhipper. The design of your character is constantly changing throughout the game too, as you find or buy new armour. This means that the cutscenes are always different, depending on what you are wearing. 

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See something you like? Check it out.

And further, whilst the voice acting in Atlas Fallen is very good, the writing is less so – it sometimes feels like an AI has been asked to come up with some fantasy dialogue. One character in particular keeps saying “so to speak” and this is very annoying, even when another NPC takes the mickey out of him for it. 

Atlas Fallen features two main strands in its arsenal: combat and exploration. Now, as things stand at the beginning, we are entirely mundane, but as soon as we get the Gauntlet, things begin to change. We start off with a double jump, further gaining new parts and abilities, adding an air dash to the list of abilities. This in itself can be upgraded to allow the chance to clear enormous distances in the air. We also gain the ability to slide on sand, as if we were skiing, and this makes getting around a lot of fun. Stringing together a slide, a double jump and a glide to clear a gap and get to new areas is always exhilarating, and the traversal mechanic has been one of my favourite parts of the game. 

Looking around in hard to reach places will reveal chests to find, viewpoints to enjoy, which will show more locations on the map, and also a plethora of NPCs with missions to undertake. These can range from killing massive wraiths to finding certain items. There is no shortage of things to do, that is for sure. 

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There are some really good ideas in Atlas Fallen

Now, combat, and there are a lot of really good ideas found in Atlas Fallen. In an aggressive frame of mind, there is a mechanic called momentum – as long as you keep attacking, the momentum gauge builds. And each time another section of the bar is complete, it “ascends” your weapons, making them more powerful and larger. This bar continues to fill until you choose to “shatter” your foes, which crystallises them, dealing a massive amount of damage. 

Each foe that you fight has a health bar, as you’d expect. Whilst smaller foes have only one bar, the larger lot are made up of multiple body parts; each part with its own health bar. To defeat these foes, every body part must be destroyed, and in a nice touch, destroying some body parts will make certain attacks weaker, making it a bit easier if you take out an enemy’s tail first, for instance. When you see a health bar or body part get a blue line around it, shattering will destroy the body part to defeat the whole enemy. 

Defence is another region where the combat shines. In a change to the normal way these things go, if an attack from a foe has a red flash, then it can be parried; actioning this in sequence will again crystallise your foe, allowing you to get a few free hits in. Blue flashes from your foes mean that the attack can’t be parried, and must be avoided. As an extra incentive, the blue attacks are known as momentum drainers – if you are hit by them, they will reduce the momentum bar, making you weaker again. With me so far?

Locking onto foes in Atlas Fallen is a very good idea, but focusing on certain parts is even better. One of the worst foes you’ll face doesn’t attack you directly, but instead it flies around healing everything else, undoing all your hard work. Obviously, that one needs to go first! A cheap tactic a lot of bigger opponents use throughout a fight is to summon a lot of these smaller guys to help them, and while you are concentrating on a big enemy, they can whittle you down quite quickly. Keep your wits about you and eyes in the back of your head is my advice. 

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There’s sandsurfing too

Luckily, as we go through Atlas Fallen, we get new slots on the Gauntlet to insert essence stones into, providing new abilities. We also have a variety of Idols to find, and these allow us to heal ourselves in combat. The Idol comes with a certain number of healing charges as a default, and when they are gone the only way to charge the Idol is to keep attacking, which translates into extra healing charges. Essence stones can change the way that some abilities work, and even add new attacks; accessed by pulling the LT button and a face button. 

If this sounds complicated, it is hard to explain, but the way Atlas Fallen eases you in and explains the mechanics makes it feel like second nature. All in all, the combat is a very well executed part of the game. 

The very best thing though is when you come up against an opponent who you cannot defeat; and this is very possible as the difficulty is pretty steep. But all is not lost as should you have a friend able and willing to assist, Atlas Fallen features full co-op gameplay on a drop in, drop out basis. If you just need help with a fight, then that is fine, but if you want to explore and find things together, that is also possible. The only things that change with the co-op play is that you cannot save manually at an anvil, and that the fast travel between the anvils can only be done in the same section of the map. No nipping off to other areas when playing together! The cooperative gameplay works brilliantly, with no slow down or lag to be seen. 

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Expect the biggest of foes

Now, what about issues? Well, as I said at the top, fighting aerial foes can be a bit hit and miss, whilst taking on large foes in tight spaces causes the camera to have a meltdown. Quite often it will cause the enemy to get stuck inside a building. This usually means you can’t hit them, but they have no issues hitting you.

It’s also strange that some larger foes have very defined areas, and so even if you are in the middle of fighting, if they move out of their area, they will despawn, then respawn with full health. One Marauder in the last area did this to me three times in a row until I just stood still and let the enemy come to me each time. These are niggles that – while annoying – didn’t ever spoil my enjoyment. 

All in all, Atlas Fallen is a brilliant game. It isn’t perfect, but perfection is boring. Games need to have character to stick in the memory, and Atlas Fallen has that in spades. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and so it is easy to recommend.

If you are ready for an epic, third person action adventure, then look no further than Atlas Fallen.



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