I'm a fan of games where you play as a creature that breaks the norm of typical videogame protagonists, like playing as a shark in Maneater or an adventurous dragon in the Spyro Reignited Trilogy. So when I heard about this strange game where you get to play as a weird mutant animal shooting guns and riding mechs into battle, I had to check out Biomutant for Xbox Series X, especially since it's on our list of most anticipated upcoming Xbox and PC games.
Unfortunately, during my time playing it, I couldn't help but feel uninspired by this game. It attempts many gameplay and narrative ideas, and while many of them do work, so many do not. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's dive into the world of Biomutant and see what this game got right and got not so right.
Hunt down the Worldeaters
Bottom line: Biomutant has an interesting setting and world but is held back by technical issues, an unintuitive combat system, lack of proper characterization, and very repetitive missions.
- Interesting setting
- Cool monster designs
- Deep character leveling and crafting systems
- Fun boss fights
- The monotonous narrator detracts from the characters and story
- The combat system is muddled and unintuitive
- Intermittent graphical glitches and occasional crashes detract from the experience
- Its $60 price tag does not reflect the game's quality
What is Biomutant?
Biomutant is an open-world, action-RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world populated by mutants of all shapes and sizes. Many years ago, humanity had polluted planet Earth to the point where it became no longer safe for habitation, so they abandoned it. The pollution caused the ecosystems of Earth and the wildlife to mutate drastically. Nature has consumed all the remnants of mankind's cities, reducing them to ruins. Some creatures turned into intelligent humanoids, while others have mutated into giant, towering monsters called Worldeaters.
You play as one of these new mutated humanoids — a wandering ronin trying to survive alone in this ruined world. After an intense battle with one of the hostile mutants, a Lupa-Lupin, you encounter a crippled monkey mutant called 'Out-of-Date' who says he needs you to save the planet from the Worldeaters.
The Worldeaters are wreaking all sorts of havoc and are trying to consume the Tree of Life, which helps sustain one of the last healthy ecosystems on Earth. If the Worldeaters destroy it, then all is lost. If that wasn't bad enough, the locals have formed small tribes and are too busy fighting each other for supremacy instead of stopping the Worldeaters.
Without getting into spoilers, Out-of-Date believes that with your martial-arts skills and mutant abilities, you can unite the warring tribes and defeat the Worldeaters.
The good stuff
|Platforms||Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, PC|
|Xbox Game Pass||No|
Your journey begins with a character creator that allows you to customize the look of your mutant and select your class. The class you pick determines what attributes and weapons you start with. For your character's looks, you can edit the fur and physique to make yourself into a cute or monstrous creature straight out of a 90's Saturday morning cartoon. Once you're done, it's time to set out into the world.
Biomutant sports a unique post-apocalyptic setting that feels like it's on the road to recovery, populated with new races trying to figure out how to repurpose humanity's discarded technology for their own ends. There are all sorts of unique biomes like lush forests, oxygen-deprived wastelands filled with lakes of tar, and ruined human facilities drowning in radiation. Some of these areas require special equipment that boosts your resistance to environmental hazards, so you don't keel over from radiation poisoning.
The crafting and character leveling systems are pretty in-depth. You find weapon parts scattered through the land and combine any of them together to craft a weapon that fits your playstyle. You can craft shotguns to blast enemies at close or craft assault rifles to shoot down enemies at a distance. However, the melee weapons feel a bit samey, despite some of the cool moves that they have.
The highlight of the game for me is when you confront the Worldeaters.
You can augment your armor with bits of scrap to upgrade its defensive value. You can dismantle equipment you don't want for materials to upgrade your preferred gear or sell them off at the vendors.
There is a variety of mutant powers to obtain throughout the course of the game. These include shooting fireballs, shooting lightning, telekinesis, blasting radiation, creating a giant bubble shield, and many more. These powers are acquired by obtaining Bio Points from slaying monsters and awarded Psi-Points after performing good or evil deeds.
The highlight of the game for me is when you confront the Worldeaters. Each fight with these cool-looking beasts has their own questline that require different methods to take down. For example, the first Worldeater you will face, Jumpo Puff, requires you to build a giant mech suit to fight it. I like that you can customize its looks with bits of scrap you find in the wasteland. I made mine look like a horrific animatronic you would most likely find in Five Nights at Freddy's.
The not so good stuff
My motivation for this game's story was dashed early on, owing to the game's single narrator explaining everything you see or do. He describes what the characters are saying since they only speak in gibberish, he tells you how your character should feel after making any moral decision, and he even constantly shouts one-liners for you in battle. The endless narration robs the characters of any characterization or personality of their own, robbing any sense that this is your story — arguably crucial in any self-respecting RPG.
There's nothing wrong with audio narration when used correctly, but the overabundance of it in Biomutant only serves to reduce the sense of scope in the game's world. This is a game that tells you what's going on, rather than shows you, which gets grating quite quickly. Even after messing with the settings to turn him off, he's still there giving off-color commentary when it isn't needed. I suspect this could become a source of irritation for many who play.
Another aspect that turned me off was the very repetitive quests. While there were some interesting quests like the fights with the Worldeaters and raiding the outposts of tribes, most of the quests were generic fetch quests or 'kill this many enemies' quests. I wouldn't normally mind this, but thanks in part to the monotonous narrator, I wasn't really invested in them. The other problem is that the combat just isn't very interesting, either.
The combat system is simple for the most part, but some of it is unintuitive. You whack enemies with your melee attacks, shoot from afar with your gun, and occasionally use your mutant powers to inflict status effects on them. I didn't like that you had to wait for an on-screen command prompt before inflicting a heavy attack during a normal melee combo. It puts a damper on creating your combos during a fight, being forced to use only a few combos. Dodging enemies attacks is also weird because you gravitate towards an enemy, which can be detrimental during group fights. I often unintentionally dodge rolled into an enemy offscreen because my dodge roll gravitated me towards them instead of letting me dodge wherever I wanted.
The combat system is straightforward, but some of it is unintuitive.
Biomutant also has some serious issues with difficulty tuning. On normal mode, Biomutant is often laughably easy, even without optimizing your build. So, I went to Hard Mode to find a better challenge, and it delivered for a while before I started upgrading my gear. It wasn't long before I was able to tank enemies attacks that were several levels above me and the only times I died was due to the unintuitive controls during combat I mentioned before. The lack of any real sense of risk and reward makes grinding through the game's repetitive quests all the more difficult, if you're particularly susceptible to boredom. The combat tuning, however, may make it an attractive game for younger audiences, or parents looking for a game to play with their youngsters.
There were a few graphical glitches where objects you need to interact with appeared to be invisible. When I was using the game's photo mode during boss fights, their health bar still appeared. Some of this stuff will likely be fixed in a day one or post-launch patch, though. The performance is excellent on Xbox Series X, although I did experience a few crashes during my time with the game.
Should you buy this?
While the battles against the Worldeaters are fun and varied, the road to get to those fights can be punishingly dull. Most of the quests are repetitive, the narrator robbed me of investment into the characters, and the combat systems need some serious work. Even though this game offers hours of content with some fleeting gameplay satisfaction and impressive art and design, too much of Biomutant is hollow filler that gets tedious quite quickly.
Overall, Biomutant is an okay game with potential, if the developers address future feedback. However, I would only recommend this game if it's on sale since the $60 price tag does not reflect the game's quality as of writing. With subsequent updates, that could change, and hopefully, it will. But as of right now, Biomutant does not live up to the hype.
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