Feature Article

Biomutant Preview: Customizing Your Way Through A Post-Apocalyptic World

With a large amount of freedom, open-world RPG Biomutant looks to give you a ridiculous number of ways to explore and fight within it.

In just 40 or so minutes of a hands-off gameplay demo of Biomutant, I'd watched its protagonist ride a jetski through polluted gooey waters, mount some kind of cat-looking horse thing, operate their own ramshackle mech suit, and hop aboard a flying bat creature. Oh, and there's a flying suitcase, too.

Traversing the world in these many ways is indicative of the level of customization at play in Biomutant. In the final hands-off preview before the game's release, developer Experiment 101 showed a fair amount of new footage that gave a sense of your ability to explore the game world, engage in combat, create your character, and build your own weapons. That freedom seems to be a central tenet of the Biomutant's open-world--you can look how you want, fight how you want, wear what you want, and use the weapons that you want.

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Now Playing: Biomutant - The Final Preview

The freedom to determine your character in the world of Biomutant begins with character creation, where you make your own mutant animal critter to travel the wastes of the game's post-human world. You can do a lot to create a creature you like to look at, but character creation goes well beyond just having spiffy fur patterns.

As creative director Stefan Ljungqvist explained, character creation has you making a bunch of important RPG decisions as well. You'll determine your species, as well as your core attributes like strength and intellect, and those determine how your character looks as well as its capabilities. You'll also fine-tune your ability to resist environmental issues, like radiation, heat, and cold--which will help determine what places you can easily explore, and how dangerous they become.

There are six species to choose from and six tribes out in the world, Ljungqvist said. While he was cagey about the tribes, it sounds like they might be divided by species--and it sounds like your choice of animal might affect how you interact with them.

That's another running theme of Biomutant's customization: Your choices will influence how other characters deal with you. As you deal with other characters and make dialogue choices, it'll affect your "aura," which can range from light to dark and various shades in between. "Light and dark" doesn't necessarily mean "good or evil," though--it sounds like choices won't be quite so cut and dried. What's more important is that the shade of your aura affects how you interact with other people based on their distinct auras. If you have a similar alignment, you might find people easier to connect with and influence; drastic differences will make for more strained communication.

And, of course, customization plays a big role in combat. The core of Biomutant is a fast-paced, Devil May Cry-like combination of gunplay and melee combat, filled with combos and special abilities. When you build your character, you also define your class, which Ljungqvist described as being more like a loadout than a set of hard-and-fast rules about your character's abilities. You can do things like lean into being more of a commando-style fighter or a precision shooter, or maybe prioritize psionic abilities, but picking a certain class doesn't lock you out from other possibilities when it comes to your abilities and weapons. What it does do is give you lots of options on the battlefield to hit enemies with big area-of-effect psionic attacks, or to slow down time to make sure you land a ton of shots for precision damage.

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Combat is also influenced by the weapons you bring to the fight, which is where crafting plays a huge role. It seems like the crafting system in Biomutant is extremely deep; this is a loot-based RPG where you'll be finding all kinds of gear of various rarity and quality levels, and you'll be able to cobble it together to build new things.

For instance, Ljungqvist showed one possibility in which he crafted a mace made out of a cane and the door of a safe, imbued with freezing powers--which came to be called the Cane Stronkbox. Later, he assembled a new gun from a ton of different pieces, each of which determined how it would handle. Setting the stock and trigger meant it would be a two-handed weapon instead of one-handed; choosing a magazine determined how many shots it could handle; picking a certain barrel switched it from a rifle to a shotgun. As Ljungqvist explained, your crafting choices determine not only how the gun will work and what kind of damage it'll do, but even how it handles and how it sounds.

Crafting extends to your armor, too, where you can sometimes add additional components that give you different benefits. You'll be thinking about this, in particular, because armors can have resistances just like the ones you determine for your character at the start of the game. Having the right armor with the right resistance is how you'll survive in some areas of Biomutant. While other places might be gated, for the most part, you'll be able to go anywhere you want in Biomutant right off the bat, Ljungqvist said; you'll just need to find the right armor to survive in some of the more harsh environments.

And that's what seemed most remarkable about our quick, final look at Biomutant--it seems like a vast world with a ton of freedom in how you'll play it. There's a story pulling you along (something about protecting the Tree of Life from Worldeaters and maybe the end of the world), but how you engage with that story and the 8-by-8-kilometer game world is up to you. We'll have to see how that freedom translates into actually playing Biomutant when it finally releases on May 25 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw has worked as a journalist for newspapers and websites for more than a decade and has covered video games, technology, and entertainment for nearly that long. A freelancer before he joined the GameSpot team as an editor out of Los Angeles, his work appeared at Playboy, IGN, Kotaku, Complex, Polygon, TheWrap, Digital Trends, The Escapist, GameFront, and The Huffington Post. Outside the realm of games, he's the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler's Guide to Time Travel and The Space Hero's Guide to Glory. If he's not writing about video games, he's probably doing a deep dive into game lore.



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