"Even in the alpha stage, the game shows a lot of promise."
As a long-time member of RPGFan's cleanup crew, most of my work focuses on games that have been out for a very long time, but that we just didn't have the staff to cover at the time they were released. (Or, you know, the game that was terrible and nobody wanted to play
.) So when I got the chance to play an alpha of Fat Shark's upcoming game, Krater, I jumped right in.
Krater is a squad-based action RPG set in a world starting to recover from the effects of a war several hundred years in its past. Nuclear bombs, bio-weapons, nanotech... this world really took a beating. Humanity was nearly wiped out, but they eventually found their salvation in a crater in the middle of the desert that was mysteriously intact and fertile. In the center of the crater, there was a deep hole that led to a pre-war underground complex, filled with high-tech equipment just waiting to be collected by anyone brave (or crazy) enough.
Of course, as any gamer worth their salt can guess, that includes you. You play as a group of three characters out to make their fortune and probably learn something about the crater along the way. If I'm reading Fat Shark's website correctly, there are at least two different factions you can join as the game progresses, but I didn't get the chance to do so during my playtime.
The combat is action-oriented, and your team automatically attacks the target of their choice when enemies approach unless you direct them to use special skills or attack someone specific. Each enemy encounter lasted just a few seconds, and sadly, the combat didn't feel very deep. However, given that my characters were fairly low-level and therefore going up against very weak enemies, I expect the experience to change later in the game.
From what I've seen in my time with the alpha version of the game, the characters don't develop via a skill tree. Instead, Krater offers a crafting system that allows players to improve both their weapons and their abilities. I haven't experienced this first-hand, but it's the kind of thing one would expect to be tweaked up to (and perhaps even after) the game's release.
Walking between towns takes place on an overworld map that feels very reminiscent of the original Fallout, complete with random encounters that take you into a small map with a few enemies to battle and perhaps some loot before you can exit again to continue your journey. The dungeons are randomly generated and feature everything you'd expect in a dungeon. The game has a very European vibe, and the enemies I faced in the alpha build were more like overgrown forest animals than fantastical beasts. I don't know if it's intentional, but the grammar is not quite right, in a charming way that feels like it was done on purpose... even if it wasn't. Overall, Krater's world feels very cohesive, which is something I always appreciate.
Krater has been scheduled for release in just a few weeks, on June 12th, so I'm sure that the developers are very hard at work providing the final level of polish. However, even in the alpha stage, the game shows a lot of promise, and I have high hopes for what they'll be delivering next month. Despite the fact that it's an action game, it doesn't feel like Diablo, so it may even stand a chance to sell despite the proximity of its release to that behemoth.