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Atlas Fallen Hands-On Gameplay Preview

I am not going to pretend I wasn’t a bit concerned about Atlas Fallen when the release date and pre-orders went live for the game before the first gameplay was even shown off. How do you expect gamers to pre-order a game without even knowing what it looks like? Up to March this year, we only had a very flashy CG trailer which was shown off during Gamescom last year.

Watch the Atlas Fallen preview below:

But after spending a few hours with Atlas Fallen myself, I have to say that the game is shaping up to be quite a bit of fun. Atlas Fallen is being developed by Deck13. The same minds that brought you The Surge franchise and Lords of the Fallen. It takes place in a land called Caladrias which was supposedly all lush and thriving and stuff until something horrible happened and now there’s just sand and dust everywhere.

This once-great kingdom is now completely in ruins. Not only are the people struggling to get through the day but there are huge monsters around called Wraiths which also make life a little difficult. I make it sound simple but Atlas Fallen seems to have quite a deep backstory to it that will be quite interesting to discover. The preview build I played jumped into the second act of the game so it didn’t really provide enough information for a full story breakdown.

Atlas Fallen

From lore pieces I gathered around the game, I suspect the fall of the kingdom had something to do with a war led by a mad queen and a powerful gauntlet which by chance, the main character in the game now wears. This gauntlet is pretty important to Atlas Fallen and not only acts as a key artefact in the story but also ties much of the game’s combat together.

The preview saw me wake up one day in a cave and take on the role of this unnamed character and his mysterious ghost-like partner. So with a sandy landscape ahead of me, I was keen to jump into this preview, smash some Wraiths around and hopefully, make this preview sound cool enough for you to pay attention to Atlas Fallen. Because you should. It is actually a good time.

Atlas Fallen

When I mention “sandy landscape” it is quite ironic because Atlas Fallen is literally a sandbox game with sand. With large a large open world to explore, there’s a lot to see and do. Thankfully, Deck13 seems to have nailed the general exploration down and it makes trekking around this giant sandpit so refreshing. Getting around is pretty simple thanks to a sandsurfing parkour system where I could sprint across the sand like a badass. I could also double jump in the air and even air dash forward.

All of this system is also upgradable so getting around will only get faster and even more cool-looking as you progress into the game. I think it was really important to have because of how much time you’ll spend running around. For example, the air dash can be upgraded so I could dash twice in the air before landing. This meant I was more nimble in combat but also able to reach further platforms in the world. Some areas are even out of reach until this second dash is available.

Atlas Fallen

So while getting around feels great, I also spent a lot of time fighting Wraiths in the world. These sand creatures come in many shapes and forms and also include their own drop materials, weak spots and strength tiers. Some Wraiths have parts which can be broken off in order to get specific materials too. The Shellbasher, for example, has giant claws which once attacked, weakens the Wraith and drops valuable crafting items.

If anything, Atlas Fallen has a pretty box standard combat system but its mechanics make it incredibly unique. Combos are performed with light and heavy attacks. Holding down attack buttons also triggers a unique attack. If you have played any hack-and-slash in the past, this is nothing new. But the real fun is in the game’s momentum system. During combat, there was a blue bar that filled up as I dealt damage. This bar is divided into three portions and basically, the fuller the bar, the better things get.

Atlas Fallen

A full bar meant I not only dealt more damage but also took more damage at the same time. It also meant that each portion of the bar which was filled up enabled specific Essence Stones which I equipped onto the gauntlet across its various slots. In theory, there are eight smaller Essense Slots slots for buffs and enhancements to combat and three larger slots called Active Stone which are actual attacks and abilities.

Say you completely fill up the Momentum bar and have all of these slots filled up, you’ll then be granted every Essense Stone buff on the bar as well as be able to perform the Active Stones equipped on it too. So technically, the last attack right on the end of the bar is super powerful and you have to focus on building up momentum in order to reach it. Once there, you can perform this Active Stone every time the cooldown ended on the right-hand side of the screen.

Atlas Fallen

I could also spend the entire Momentum Bar pulling off a Shatter attack which depletes the bar but deals a huge amount of damage. Great for finishing off tough Wraiths. But that is just scraping the surface of the combat system in Atlas Fallen. A perfectly-timed block can also freeze enemies in place, I could also dash around in the air and perform some awesome ariel attacks. I also forgot to mention that the weapons equipped at the time change size and form the higher the Momentum Bar is filled up.

All of this is pretty damn cool to experience and I won’t lie, I actually wanted to fight every enemy around me all the time because of how much fun this combat system is. Not to mention that there are quite a lot of Essense Stones and Active Skills to equip so you can really build your fighting style into whatever you want. One Essense Stone triggered an automatic counter-attack when I parried an enemy for example while others offers buffs to defence and damage.

Atlas Fallen

Active Stones saw me toss a giant sandstorm into the distance which spun around damaging enemies. Another let me throw my hammer in a line and have it return damaging all enemies in the way. It is a lot of fun.

Exploration in Atlas Fallen also seems to be a big focus for the game. New gear like weapons and armour will encourage you to search every mount and castle ruin. There are also some side quests to take on and general sandbox-like mechanics. One activity saw me raise a pillar and surf to the next one before the time ended. These are cool but I hope there are a bit more rewarding things to do in the final game.

Atlas Fallen

So after a few hours of Atlas Fallen, the game is definitely now on my radar. I enjoyed the preview and actually can’t wait to play this in co-op because the entire game is single-player and co-op supported. I am most excited to see how the gameplay expands from what I experienced. New Active and Essense Stones will definitely help make combat even more enjoyable.

I also need to mention that the preview looked pretty impressive too. While there’s mostly just sand and mountains around, the game’s visuals were polished and the world around me was highly detailed and engaging. Even the draw distance and the details on the giant mountains in ahead gave me this feeling of being lost in this mysterious world. I am definitely on board for this game.

Atlas Fallen is set to launch on 16 May for PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC. You can pre-order it here for R999.

Marco is the owner and founder of GLITCHED. South Africa’s largest gaming and pop culture website. GLITCHED quickly established itself with tech and gaming enthusiasts with on-point opinions, quick coverage of breaking events and unbiased reviews across its website, social platforms, and YouTube channel.

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