By Chris Melchin / September 12th, 2017
The sudden surge in popularity of the hero shooter genre kind of happened all at once about a year ago. It happened with the almost simultaneous releases of Overwatch and the ill-fated Battleborn, and is still going strong with other, more recent games such as Paladins, Lawbreakers, and the upcoming Quake Champions. Now, Digital Extremes is throwing its hat into the ring with The Amazing Eternals.
The Amazing Eternals aims to mix things up by combining the basic hero shooter genre with a collectible card game. In addition to there being six different Eternals to choose from, you build 12-card decks that you have access to during a match. The cards have such effects as temporary power-ups, passive boosts, and alternate weapons with a limited ammo supply. The cards become available at set intervals, and the order can be set when you build or edit the deck. It adds a new element to the regular gameplay for the genre, with each player developing differently as the game progresses depending on how they built their decks.
According to the developer, the goal for The Amazing Eternals was to have a hero shooter with an “evolving meta”, similar to games such as Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering. As it stands with the open beta, new cards are added fairly frequently, and the team is adding new characters as well although less frequently. Adding even a single card with a minor effect can dramatically change the metagame and how players build decks, and players are constantly finding new ways to combine cards in ways that the developers didn’t think of. There’s a massive amount of depth possible with the deck-building system, while keeping it from being overwhelming by limiting deck size to only 12 cards.
Generally the way the game plays is pretty similar to other games in the genre; the best point of comparison I have is to Overwatch. There’s less variety due to there being fewer characters to choose from, but new characters are being developed and added to the game. Based on my short time with it, I found that the addition of the cards makes one too many things to keep track of and makes it hard to get the hang of. I assume that given more time to learn the game, as opposed being thrown directly into a match, one could get used to the added complexity from the cards, as well as get used to the rather bizarre default weapon and ability kits for some of the Eternals.
The general style of The Amazing Eternals is inspired by 1970s pulp science fiction. The premise is that it’s a board game, with a special artifact called a Keystone (from whence the game gets its original title, Keystone) that transports players to another world and puts them into the shoes of these magical heroes known as Eternals. The progression system borrows from this concept, placing players on a game board, where gaining experience progresses them along the board. Each new space gets them a reward, depending on the space they land on.
That said, although I presented the strangeness of the Eternals as a criticism, I do appreciate how different they feel from heroes in other games. They’ll take some getting used to, as will the card and deck-building systems, but given time to adjust there’s no way it wouldn’t be possible to do. It would take time, but fortunately the open beta is going on now if you want to try it out. It will be free to play in the future, but it’s possible to buy into it early with a founder’s pack.
Digital ExtremesKeystonePAX WestPAX West 2017The Amazing Eternals