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Forspoken Hands-On Preview: Spider-Man's Movement And Combat With Magic

Forspoken has fun traversal and combat, but it isn't reinventing the open-world wheel.

If you imagine Spider-Man, Marvel's super-agile superhero, slinging a variety of deadly magic spells rather than webs, you have a good idea of what it's like to play Forspoken. Square Enix's upcoming open-world action game puts equal emphasis on quick movement and bombarding your opponents with all manner of magic in an experience that's all about fast thinking, smart movement, and overwhelming force.

Square Enix recently gave GameSpot a chance to play about an hour of Forspoken in a curated demo. We didn't play the actual game, but rather, a specifically crafted slice that demonstrated how Forspoken will feel and gave a sense of how its open world will work. In some ways, what we saw of Forspoken felt familiar for anyone who's played a lot of open-world games--there are a lot of locations to unlock, small challenges to complete, and items to collect to upgrade protagonist Frey's powers.

Where Forspoken stands apart is in its traversal and combat, once you get the hang of both. It's a fast and frenetic game, giving you a whole host of abilities to use against enemies. While you'll have to think about how to best use all the magic weapons at your disposal, the fun of Forspoken is in the speed--it relies less on methodical planning and more on hitting opponents with everything you've got.

The demo we played took place in a series of vast fields, craggy valleys, and swampy lowlands. Most of the time, you'll get around with Forspoken's magical parkour system, which has been a big highlight in trailers and gameplay videos so far. Holding down a single face button on your controller activates the ability, which causes Frey to bound forward and to automatically climb up or spring off any obstacles that get in her way. You can't parkour forever, though--Frey has a limited amount of stamina that has to be recharged after a while.

To get the most out of the traversal system, you want to plan your moves through the world to actually hit obstacles and use them to your advantage. For instance, just bounding across an open field will let you move fast for a short period, but you'll get farther if you cut through a stand of trees, because Frey will kick off them as she passes to get extra speed and distance. You'll also want to combine the parkour system with Frey's ability to grab onto ledges or special rocks with a sort of magical rope, which allows her to zip forward or upward like Spidey making his way up a building or across rooftops.

Getting around in Forspoken feels pretty good, and the game keeps things simple so that you don't have to do much more than hold down a button and steer for Frey to navigate terrain. But even the demo we saw had a pretty huge open world, with a lot of space between points of interest. A fast-travel system you unlock by visiting key locations helps make moving around quicker and easier. It seems that while parkouring around the map will be a main focus of the experience, the parkour mechanics are better for shorter trips around objects--at least until you unlock more capabilities as you explore and Frey levels up. I found myself running out of steam as I tried to cross large areas, and it took me a while to get a good sense of how to utilize the system to make getting around fun instead of arduous.