Zero-gravity FPS Boundary is quietly one of April's coolest new releases

Boundary is a game about astronauts—sorry, astroperators—who float around in space having gunfights with each other, and if space sounds like a challenging place for shooting guns at people, you'd be right. Space is really not the ideal location for anything humans do, nevermind tactical infantry battles, but it is quite a lot of fun.

Boundary released in early access on Steam a week ago, and has so far earned a "Mostly Positive" rating from user reviewers. I've been occupied with the XDefiant beta, so I haven't put a ton of time into Boundary, but I've played enough to say that I also feel mostly positive about it. 

It's got your typical FPS modes, such as team deathmatch, a domination point-capture mode, and a no-respawn TDM. The presentation reminds me a little of Fractured Space, a cool ship combat game that sadly shut down in 2018. The crisp white light of space's vacuum almost always looks great in games, doesn't it? 

WASD propels you through space in the usual directions, Space and Ctrl move you up and down, and Shift boosts. It isn't like Asteroids, where you have to constantly thrust in the direction opposite to your movement to stop from whizzing into space—you do keep moving in whatever direction you last pushed yourself, but you go slow and it's easy to stop or change course. Boundary isn't primarily about tapping thrusters on and off like Lunar Lander. Also, firing a sniper rifle does not send you tumbling backwards end over end. As funny as it would be, I'm not sure Boundary would be fun if it simulated all the reasons gun battles in space aren't wise.

Lots of real space problems are represented, though. It can be tough to spot enemies, since they can be in any direction, and are wearing white fabric while floating around the exteriors of white space stations, so target marking plays an essential role. The sound design is great. Nearby gunfire is faintly audible for playability's sake, but otherwise just about everything you hear sounds like it's caused by the vibrations of something touching your suit—it's easy to be sneaked up on. Your suit can be torn by hits that don't kill you, too, requiring you to hold F to patch it up (just like a real astronaut).

Sometimes it's sort of like a shooter where no-clipping outside the level is encouraged. You can run around inside space station bits, or go "outside" and shove off into the blackness of space. Lobbing sniper rounds across the map is fun, but if you float too far away from cover, you're easy to spot against the blackness of space and a sitting duck for lock-on rockets. (Maybe they should make black space suits for tactical soldiers?)

(Image credit: Studio Surgical Scalpels)

Boundary is $25 at its normal early access price (it's on sale for $22.49 at the moment) but the price will increase after the full release. The developers expect it to stay in early access for six months to a year. 

It strikes me as the kind of game Morgan was talking about the other day when he said that cool, fun multiplayer games should be able to exist without being enormous live service phenomena. I don't think Boundary is the next FPS megahit, but I dig it.

One area it could improve is the English translation—Boundary is made by a small Chinese studio called Surgical Scalpels—but I don't really mind earning "assissts." That's just space-talk, maybe.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.