We're up to our necks in FPSes. Battlefield 5 is out November 20. Black Ops 4 and the recent Early Access releases of World War 3 and Insurgency: Sandstorm are still warm. Rainbow Six Siege will get another major update before the end of the year. Dusk will be out in December, and I still need to check out Project Warlock. The Fallout 76 beta began yesterday, if you consider that a shooter.
Keeping all that in our heads, here's three more worthy of your wishlist.
Mavericks Proving Grounds
At this point the biggest battle royale games are as established as Dota 2 and League of Legends. But if I had to pick a game that has a chance of stealing millions of players from Fortnite and PUBG on PC, it'd be Mavericks.
The potential differentiator: Mavericks isn't built on Unreal 4, but a pile of new tech that promises 1,000-player capacity, dynamic weather, "comprehensive" destructibility, wildlife, and details like trackable, persistent player footprints and shell casings across a 16x16km map. Is your Star Citizen Skepticism tingling yet?
The prototype we played in March only featured five players, but "even at this early state it's refreshing to see some elements coming to a battle royale game that might allow for new tactics and styles of play," Chris wrote then. The technical hurdles PUBG has faced in its second year have reinforced the importance of rock-solid technology sitting underneath battle royale games, and SpatialOS is a platform all about making a huge number of concurrent players possible.
The first chapter of this neo-retro gem is already available, but the rest of it can't come soon enough. What's brilliant about Ion Maiden is the way it takes the best aspects of the ancient Build Engine it's assembled in but applies modern thinking to its weapon designs and level layouts. The result is an FPS with some of the best ingredients of early '90s shooters (gorgeous sprite art, high-acceleration movement, secrets aplenty) without many of the rough edges from that era. Maybe the best example of this is the nuanced behavior of the Bowling Bomb, Ion Maiden's rolling grenade that detonates on impact with enemies, but rebounds dynamically off surfaces and won't explode if it doesn't connect with a bad guy.
Ion Maiden will be done in the second quarter of 2019, and a new level, weapons, and enemies will be shown at PAX South in late January. It's currently rated "Overwhelmingly Positive" across 731 Steam reviews.
Developer 10 Chambers Collective is mixing the paranoia of Aliens with the four-player cooperation of Payday. Although the studio says GTFO will make use of an Expedition Director that "throws players into new challenging situations in every play session," this isn't a hand-holding, casual descendent of Left 4 Dead, but possibly the most hardcore take on the genre we've seen, an FPS that relies as much on trigger discipline and coordinated stealthy movement through its pitch-black caverns as it does mowing down mobs of strange horrors.
Aside from sparse medkits, there's no health regeneration. Ammo is scarce. If you die, you don't respawn at checkpoints. Computer consoles scattered across maps aren't one-button devices, but more authentic terminals that you have to type commands into on your keyboard. One of the monsters, based on the first gameplay footage, seems to be composed of actual darkness, faint, humanoid shadows that are only visible as silhouettes in your flashlight.
The studio says GTFO is actually coming "late 2018," but lacking a firmer release date, I'm wondering if it could drift into next year. Chris was encouraged when he played it at E3, calling GTFO "a tense and creepy horror shooter that blends long periods of tense exploration and stealth with sudden freak-out bursts of chaotic gunplay."