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Is this the most pointless flip in videogame history?

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Today's Future Games Show (opens in new tab) stream included part one of a cinematic trailer for Off the Grid, a 150-player PvP and PvE battle royale game in development by Gunzilla Games and film director Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium, Chappie), who's in charge of the worldbuilding. You can watch the video above, or here on YouTube (opens in new tab).

I mainly want to talk about one scene, which I've embedded a clip of lower in this article, but the whole video is a bit odd. It's nearly four minutes long, but by the end I couldn't tell you who it was about or why they mattered. It's mostly a fight scene in the style of those YouTube videos where people demonstrate that it's possible to do low-budget special effects. The industrial complex it takes place in looks like a Google Maps 3D satellite view that's been put through an AI upscaler.

I guess that's the kind of thing Blomkamp is known for, so he's staying true to form, but it seems to me it would've been cheaper to record some actual gameplay footage of Off the Grid. We still haven't seen what it looks like, and it's supposed to release next year.

None of that is as weird as the thing I really want to talk about, though: the flip.

The flip happens a little over three minutes into the video. Two guys are fighting. One defeats the other, leaving him kneeling on the ground with no weapon or defenses—or so it seems! The apparent loser isn't completely out of tricks. He desperately throws sticky gadgets onto nearby concrete pillars, creating a laser beam fence between the two combatants. It's not enough. The victor uses his bionic legs to leap vertically and flip forward over the laser fence, shooting the helpless soldier while upside down at the apex of his jump.

What makes the flip weird will be obvious when you watch the clip, but let's break it down anyway:

  • He could have just shot the guy through the laser beams. Even if laser beams somehow block his shots, there are huge gaps between the beams.
  • He could have walked around the laser fence. There's nothing on the other side of the concrete pillars.
  • He also could have gone under the lowest laser beam, if he really wanted to. It's not that low.
  • How come his forward momentum seems to disappear in the closeup, which shows him jumping completely vertically?
  • The gunshots don't seem to do anything, but then the guy drops dead. Maybe they cause internal bleeding? Is it a laser gun? It sounds like one, but it ejects shells. Energy shells? Confusing.
  • Why even shoot the guy? He wasn't doing anything.

I suppose the video could be in the same vein as the Battlefield 2042 announcement trailer (opens in new tab), which was a cinematic interpretation of the goofy things players do in Battlefield games, like jumping in and out of jet cockpits mid-flight. Maybe the flip is a send-up of the silly, unnecessary behaviors players get up to in shooters? Could be. That's not really the sort of thing Blomkamp has said he's interested in, though.

"I think the future of gaming is in more and more photorealistic environments that are more and more physically true, that allow the player to do whatever they want, in that environment," the director told Game Informer (opens in new tab) last year.

And according to Gunzilla, Off the Grid is a "cyberpunk-styled battle royale third person shooter that aims to evolve the genre through strong emphasis on narrative progression and player freedom." How a narrative is being worked into its 150-player PvP fights and its PvE storyline missions isn't really clear yet—again, we haven't seen the game—but it sounds serious. 

"Core to the experience and deep narrative structure is the unique way in which players can craft, customize, and trade their in-game items with each other," says Gunzilla. "More details to be revealed at a later stage."

That "unique" trading involves NFTs. Eurogamer noticed (opens in new tab) a recent Off the Grid press release which mentions blockchain-based item ownership.

Off the Grid is scheduled to release sometime in 2023, according to Gunzilla. The official FAQ (opens in new tab) has a few more details. Nothing about why the guy does a flip, though.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley alongside Apple and Microsoft, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on the early personal computers his parents brought home. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, Bushido Blade (yeah, he had Bleem!), and all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now. In 2006, Tyler wrote his first professional review of a videogame: Super Dragon Ball Z for the PS2. He thought it was OK. In 2011, he joined PC Gamer, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. After work, he practices boxing and adds to his 1,200 hours in Rocket League.