Arc Raiders will be the first game from Embark Studios – a new venture set up by former EA executive Patrick Soderlund – and will see you, player, defend earth from a mysterious mechanised threat descending on the planet from outer space. The free-to-play co-operative title is targeting a release on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC – and it looks like it could be one of your new favoruite games to have on rotation when it launches.
The title was revealed during The Game Awards 2021 in December last year and instantly started creating a lot of buzz... But does Arc Raiders have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with some of the other large (and more established) shooters out there? We're here to break it all down with X things we know about the game so far.
It's a great mix of action and shootingDon't think of this as just a shooter – that would be dull, right? When you've got luicrous space machines bearing down on you from all angles, you have to be a bit more creative in how you take them out. As well as pumping them full of lead, you can use jump pads to get up close and personal, pin them down with the Snap Hook, and shoot or melee at weak points to dismember them – Dead Space style. More complicated fights will likely need you to use all of these elements at once, which is an exciting prospect.
It's got a big arsenal...To date, we only have details about two of the weapons; what appears to be an assult rifle, and what appears to be a rocket launcher. But there will be more announced in time. What piques our interestm, though, are the less conventional arms – like the Howitzer. This is a giant cannon that requires two or three of your squad to operate; sure, it'll hit your mobility and slow you down, but it's a powerful old thing that, no doubt, can punch a hole in enemy lines.
...and even bigger enemiesDuring the debut trailer for the game, we see a giant, multi-legged mechanical creature drop onto the battlefield as a radar ping suggests something even bigger may be on the horizon, too. Sure, there'll be small-scale fights here and there in the game, but it looks like the most challenging parts of Arc Raiders will revolve around these hulking machines. The one in the trailer is called the Baron... how easy do we think it's going to be to bring down?
The game has a solid pedigree
Embark Studios has a lot of talent beavering away on this game – when Soderlund left EA, he took some notable names with him, including a suite of developers who used to work at DICE, back in the day. You can see that DNA in Arc Raiders, too; do you not think it looks a bit like Battlefront 2, at times? But the studio is not willing to just sit on its laurels. In a statement, it noted: "our ambition with this game is to combine new and old genres with groundbreaking technical innovation, into something unique and consequential." It's worth noting that the studio was co-founded by six gaming veterans who want to see games "become more captivating and more diverse." Here's hoping it's a change of pace from the open-world shooters we know to date, then.
It wants to be different to Destiny or The Division
You may look at the game and think 'ah right, guns, gear and loot – this will play like Destiny or The Division'. But that's not the aim, here; it sounds like Embark wants to be more procedural than that in Arc Raiders. A snippet on the game's website mentions it wants moments of heroism to feel "unrehearsed". The developers want you to "do the unexpected" and "improvise, use physics, your surrounding, and your wits to your advantage". Is that just marketing speak, or will we actually get a game that's much more organic in its combat scenarios? We'll have to wait and see.
There are classes/characters to choose from
We have seen two of the Raiders which is who we will be playing as: a human named Celeste, and a droid named Lance. From this, we can assume it’s a class-based shooter with each of the different characters having abilites and perks that'll put them into rolls in your squad. Whether this will be as traditional as the likes of medic, assault, sniper and so on remains to be seen... but we're hoping for something a little more inventive.
The Day/Night cycle is very important
The game has some gorgeous visuals, but it's not all there just to look nice; the day/night cycle has practical, in-game effects, too. If you want to move against the machine threat in stealth, you can operate under cover of darkenss – this will allow you to get the upper hand on your enemy (and will seemingly change the way combat plays out in some instances, too).
It's got a killer aesthetic
The overall vibe of Arc Raiders is this retro 80’s and synthwave sci-fi feel – and that's something I, personally, am not bored of yet. Something about setting the industrial sci-fi feel of the machines against an earth that still seems quite grounded is very pleasing, and I hope the game leans into this almost Simon Stålenhag kitchen-sink approach to sci-fi. We've yet to see a game do that really well.