Strange Brigade release date
Strange Brigade gameplay
UK studio Rebellion Games is best known for its Sniper Elite series. But, it actually has an equally impressive track record creating addictively fun cooperative shooters. A talent showcased by its addictive Zombie Army trilogy.
Unveiled at E3 2017, Strange Brigade looks set to continue Rebellion’s stellar track record creating cooperative multiplayer experiences and at first glance might look like a carbon copy of said zombie game.
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It features a cast of four characters, each with their own special ability and base loadout, and pits them against various hordes of the undead. The only difference between the two is that you’re fighting egyptian mummies instead of undead Nazis. Even the slightly ham-fisted intro to the game, which offers an old-school black and white Mysterious Wonders of the World vibe, had the same tongue and cheek tone as Zombie Army.
But diving into a multiplayer match with one of the devs, it quickly became apparent Strange Brigade is a completely different experience. Picking the academic class, I fell into battle with a completely different set of weapons to what I expected.
Set in an undisclosed Middle Eastern desert locale, with a heavy Raiders of the Lost Ark vibe, I initially took my standard Zombie Army tactic, picking a high spot and waiting for the horde of undead to shuffle towards me, ripe for the sniping.
Within seconds, though, I was flanked and joined my prey in the world below. From here I had to helplessly watch my teammate desperately commando rolling between the mummies, praying I’d respawn and help clear the horde before we both kicked the bucket and lost the level.
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It was at this point I realised that Strange Brigade is arcade blaster more akin to Orcs Must Die than Zombie Army.
This fact is showcased by every part of the game, including its weapons. Gone are the multitude of precision rifles. In their place are a variety of close range weapons, ranging from 1920s-style Tommy guns and Browning pistols, to close-range shotguns. The closest I came to a sniping weapon was a single-shot rifle that, while powerful, still didn’t come with a scope.
People looking for deep marksman combat like Sniper Elite may be disappointed, but during my time with Strange Brigade I found it oddly more in-depth than Zombie Army thanks to its intelligent trap, super, puzzle and weapon bench mechanics.
Weapons in Strange Brigade are wonderfully satisfying to use, thanks to Rebellion’s established, ultra-gory dismembering mechanics, but during my hands-on I found the most satisfying way to slay mummies was to lure them into one of the various traps littering the game.
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As an added perk the traps also presented a great incentive to take advantage of the game’s cooperative play. While it was easy enough early on for me lure one or two enemies to a trap, it was only when I started working with my teammate that I managed to cause real havoc.
Establishing a plan for me to act as undead bait and lure huge droves of enemies to one trap by dodging and pestering dispersed groups, we were able to gather over 20 bandaged foes into the burner traps range and turn the horde to ash with a single bullet.
The game then rewarded us for our ingenuity by paying us vast sums of gold and filling both our super meters, granting me access to my character’s special ability – a super attack that shot out a barrage of energy blasts that jump between enemies.
By the end I was hankering for more.
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It’s always difficult to tell if a multiplayer cooperative game will succeed this early on, as how much fun it will be is largely determined by the community behind it and how many friends you can recruit locally. And by swapping precision sniping for over-the-top arcade action, Strange Brigade may not be what Zombie Army fans want.
But from what I’ve seen, Strange Brigade’s arcade shooting is super fun. Offering players a diverse set of ways to dismember the undead, Strange Brigade has the chops to be a great multiplayer shooter.