Exocorps, the hard sci-fi space shooter that aims to blow the opposition out past the Orion Nebula, finally landed in Early Access at the start of this month and we geared up to give it a go.
Available now on PC, via Early Acess, Exocorps flings players into a near-future scenario where the augmentation of the infantry soldier has undergone something of a paradigm shift. Gone are functional but mundane clobber of the past, because the near future soldier has something a little more high tech to take to the battlefield and beyond. Gamers picking up Exocorps will find themselves in possession of a high tech exo suit. A heavily armoured mechanical weapons platform, these exosuits provide unparalleled movement, shooting into action with their very own jetpack and unleashing all manner of industrious death upon their enemies.
A Shiny new Gun
Just as the near future sci-fi scenario might suggest, Exocorps is something of a graphical wonder. It’s sometimes hard to understand quite how developer Gingerbred managed to carve such stunning landscapes out of the Unreal 3 engine. Jumping into the chrome-plated weapons platform that each player possesses and blasting off into battle unwraps a handful of very different backdrops to the upcoming destruction. Whether you end up weaving through the jagged landscape of Monument or bound effortlessly around a featureless Moon, Exocorps manages to look more majestic than you might think it has any right to.
Despite the impressive look of this shooter, early gunplay definitely has a hankering for the Unreal of old. Unlike the over the top fluid ballet of something like DOOM or the cartoonish aim assisted fudge you might find in many other games, Exocorps feels closer to titles like Counter-Strike and Unreal Tournament. An exosuit might be advanced but there’s little AI assist here. Instead, the only AI you’ll find in Exocorps might be the opposition, and they’ll all be out to get you as soon as you start firing.
Letting one of the Exosuit’s weapons off the chain for the first time requires lightening precision and great reflexes, for a multitude of reasons. The Exosuit itself comes crammed with technology to help you strike down your opponents. The Mini Gun, Dart Rifle, Autocannon, Laser, Plasma Rifle, and Rail Gun are accompanied by an independent, and utterly devastating, set of swarm missiles strapped onto each exosuit. Each of these weapons provides its own particular capabilities and the diversity feels fair. The Mini Gun, for example, is largely a spray and pray affair that is best used to cajole enemies in a particular direction, while the laser is an energy-intensive but effective medium between precision and power. The same energy that powers the aforementioned laser rifle is tied to almost every weapon in your own exosuit. This central pool of universal ammo also fuels the suit’s shields, intertwining your attack and defence when you eventually lead to taking aim for the first time.
An Arsenal Of Action
While the weapons in Exocorps are impressive and varied enough to allow for multiple situations, this is far more than a shoot and loot type scenario. If you’re looking to a Borderlands style outer space adventure then Exocorps might find you scratching your head occasionally. Exocorps doesn’t just add a little layer of complexity and hard-sci fi realism by coupling the energy cells of a suit to multiple systems, it elevates what could be a simple shooter with a multitude of other ideas. Throwing old ideas about aerial shooter up in the air, quite literally, developer Gingerbread borrows elements from classic aerial combat sims, as Garin Mazaika described in a recent interview. While a jetpack is great for getting around, firing it, or indeed any weapon generates a ton of noise and heat. This makes players easy to detect on enemy sensors, allowing potential aces to more easily find and lock onto a target before dispatching a wave of swarm missiles. Coupled with the use of personal jammers and flare countermeasures, these additions turn Exocorps form a cool looking shooter into a desperate game of cat and mouse where dogfighting is commonplace and picking when to fight or how to move across low gravity terrain can be just as important as the chaos that any enemy engagement can cause. Exocrops combat is a mix of considered approach, tactical decisions, and then utter chaos, as things unfold at breakneck speed. It’s a refreshing change from the fun if familiar Battle Royales and hero shooters of late.
Finding An Opponent
These sort of engagements are fantastic when you encounter them. Playing online in Early Access is a relatively barren landscape, and the AI system is extremely predictable. I’m relatively sure I’ve ever seen a bot already. That said, jumping in with a friend or going toe to toe with your friends is immensely fun. Watching your cohorts fly straight into a mountain of fire, or just a mountain, is fantastic and watching your teammates flail as they try to find the flares is worth the cost of the game alone. It’s clear that as Exocorps develops and earns more dedicated players, the complexities of the tactical gameplay will influence higher tier gameplay. Right now, Exocorps is an intense and rewarding shooter that takes inspiration from classic ideas across a multitude of genres. Exocorps is not quite perfect yet, but even in its early moment’s this indie shooter is showing more ambition than other console based astronomical shooters. Check out Exocorps over on Steam now.