Drifting Lands is a shmup with gear and loot, out in June

The blurb for Alkemi's Drifting Lands says it "defies genre conventions" by "blending the intense combat of shmup gameplay with the freedom of ARPG-style character progression ... to create a new style of action game." That's not immediately apparent in the new release date reveal trailer, which comes out of the gate hard on the shmup side of things, but eventually it gets there. 

Drifting Lands offers three different classes of ships, which can be customized with 70 active and passive powers, upgradeable stats, and gear looted in battle that includes "unique items with 'game changer' powers." Missions are randomly generated to help ensure replayability, and if that's enough to keep you interested, there are 100 levels of difficulty to work through too. 

Alkemi said the appeal of Drifting Lands is "trying out new combos of skills, looting for better gear, and perfecting your build as you play, not memorizing enemy patterns," and as a generally non-shmup kind of guy, that's tempting. I dig up-tempo music and plentiful explosions, but I have neither the eye nor the patience to get very far in conventional shmups. Being able to make meaningful progress through the game by building a better ship, rather than developing better twitch reflexes, is a legitimately attractive proposition. 

Drifting Lands is available in Early Access on Steam for $19/£14/€19, and is set to launch in full on June 5. If you prefer to try before you buy (and who doesn't?), a free demo, with more reading and other such un-shmuppy activities than you probably expect, is also available, and really quite good.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.