PAX West 2018: Aftercharge

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

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By


I enjoy the occasional first-person shooter. I’m not that good at them, but I’ve played plenty of Overwatch and even still enjoy going back to playing it from time to time with friends. It’s always interesting to see a game attempting something new within the genre, and that’s what Aftercharge is attempting to be. It’s a 3v3 online first-person shooter, but there’s more to it than that.

Aftercharge | Workonic team

Aftercharge‘s main element separating it from other games is its asymmetrical nature. One team plays as the invisible workonic robots, while the other plays as the invincible human enforcers. There are six extractors scattered around the map that the robots are trying to destroy, while the humans are trying to disable all three workonics simultaneously in order to win. The workonics can support each other, able to instantly revive each other while close and able to transfer energy to each other to charge special abilities. Attacking an extractor as a robot reveals you temporarily, as does being close to an enforcer and in the center of their line of sight. It only takes a few shots to disable a workonic, but their squishiness is mitigated by the ability to instantly revive each other without revealing themselves.

Aftercharge | Extractor

There’s five different choices for both enforcers and workonics, each providing their own specific special ability/trait in addition to the universal abilities for each side. It’s hard to tell how much of a difference the unique abilities make based on the small amount I played, but the workonics’ abilities relying on charges given to each other encourages teamwork rather than each player just doing their own thing. It’s also important for the enforcers to actively hunt for the workonics; in the game I played on the workonic side, the enforcer team clustered around the final extractor when we destroyed all the others. However, since damage to the extractors never heals and reviving is instantaneous, we were able to employ hit-and-run tactics to eventually destroy it, while running through and reviving anyone who was taken out as necessary. If they had taken the initiative to actively hunt me down whenever I was the only one left it would have made my life significantly more difficult, rather than letting me blow past the extractor and reviving the rest of my team with little opposition.

Aftercharge | Invisible workonic

When I first started talking to the developers, they mentioned that cross-platform play will be part of the game – both with the Xbox One and later Switch versions, as well as with the PC version. I was confused about this initially; first-person shooters generally don’t work with multiplayer between consoles and PC, since they will always be easier to control with mouse and keyboard than with a controller. However, even though it technically is a first-person shooter, the shooting itself isn’t a big part of the game. The workonics don’t shoot at all, aside from some special abilities, and the enforcers’ role is mainly hunting and strategy, with shooting playing a relatively limited role as the workonics go down very quickly under fire.

Aftercharge | Workonic attacking

It’s certainly an interesting game to play. Playing as the enforcers is harder than it sounds, even though their job is just to disable all the workonics at once. The workonics’ invisibility means they can be hard to pin down, unless you’ve played the game enough to have a general sense for what players will usually be doing as the workonics. If the game sounds interesting to you, there’s a server stress test coming up on September 6, where they’ll be trying to get as many players as possible onto the PC servers. If you want to try it out before it releases later this year, they’ll be giving codes for the test to everyone in the Aftercharge Discord server, which you can join by following this link.

About Chris Melchin

Chris is a computer science student who has been gaming ever since he knew what to do with a Super Nintendo controller. He's a fighting game player, with a focus on BlazBlue and Under Night In-Birth games. His favourite games include Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Persona 5, and Little Busters. He started watching anime in high school, and his favourite series is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. He also writes Vocaloid music for his personal YouTube channel, and has a (slight) obsession with Megurine Luka.