The Amazing Eternals Beta Review
Pros: Unique 70s pulp retro theme, interesting deck building loadout mechanic, great graphics
Cons: Too few characters, modes and maps, Card system is a little complicated at first
The Amazing Eternals, the first person shooter with deck building mechanics from developers Digital Extremes. We previously got a glimpse of the game under its working alpha title Keystone, but it has entered its first closed beta test. The core concept of The Amazing Eternals is a traditional 3D first person hero shooter, taking the role of various franchise characters, and building out loadouts for them using collectable cards. It’s not the first time we’ve seen this twist on the genre, most notable with Hi-Rez Studios similar title Paladins, and so the game has a lot of competition before it is even released.
What The Amazing Eternals does offer is an intriguing theme and story-concept, a 70s pulp retro style the idea is that iconic character types from 70s pulp TV, movies and books are drawn into the same world through a Jumanji-like board game. It’s fluff for the theme, but it provides a nice graphical style to the interface and collectible card designs that create some nostalgia about that period.
When first stepping into the game we got to choose our starting character and would be outfitted with their initial starter deck. We decided to go with the Assault role, Dread, a reanimated corpse of a desperate widows husband and scientific partner that didn’t come back quite so well put together. After a few games we moved to a different square on the game board, which cleverly marks the account progression, and unlocked our second Eternal, a walking tree and devourer of children (according to his bio) called Bristle. With these two editions and our previous experience in Alpha playing astronaut Ray and bounty hunter Winter, we’ve played four out of the five available characters (with the sixth being added “soon”).
That’s our first big issue with the game; there are only five characters currently available right now. Whilst this may be a closed beta it does put some serious concerns as to how long it’s going to stay in beta (with games not staying in beta for that long these days) before it has a fuller roster. Or will we see if it’s going to be released in what is honestly way too few playable characters to be acceptable?
Each character is different from the rest, albeit with Winter and Dread it doesn’t feel like there’s that much difference between them, and each has two main skills to use in combat. One skill is a utility for movement or self-healing, the other being some sort of ability applicable to their role, as well as often a choice of two different weapons to use. At their base level there’s not enough to do with the characters, but by using the card loadouts they can be customized for new abilities and weapons. The big problem we have is that, in all honesty, the characters and their abilities just aren’t all that memorable and there’s a distinct lack of innovation in character design and mechanics that leans more towards the more “basic” characters in FPS games like LawBreakers and Quake Champions compared to the likes of Overwatch.
The card decks provide the main customization, built pre-game and consist of 12 cards with different enhancements or abilities; the main thing with building is that cards are drawn out in the same order they’re put in to the deck. In combat players can have three cards drawn maximum, when a card is used then a new one is drawn and on cooldown for a set amount of time depending on the card (the more powerful the ability, the longer the cooldown).
It’s a decent system, unfortunately, for new players it can be a little tough to use effectively and as often as not we would just trigger our abilities as soon as they were available. Getting a character for the first time and the locked starter deck it’s pretty much impossible to remember the 12 cards you have, not to mention what order they’re going to be drawn in. Levelling up allowed us to unlock the deck building and create our own decks, which makes remembering the cards and their order a little easier. By earning currency and purchasing Booster Packs players are able to acquire various random cards to go into their collection for their Eternals.
Combat itself is fast and fairly fun, although actually getting a kill doesn’t have the kind of bells and whistles we like and actually feels quite underwhelming. The map layouts and graphics are top notch and lend themselves really well to the pace of gameplay from the game modes. The problem is that, with both maps and game modes, again there’s just not enough.
Currently we see two game modes, both a 5v5 team battle, one simply being a bog standard team deathmatch and the other a point defend/attack objective. Playing as and against the same five heroes is bad enough, being stuck on the two basic game modes is worse, but given that we only seemed to cycle through two maps (a spooky castle laboratory and a snowy mountain military base) the beta experience became very tiresome.
What Digital Extremes have right now is a good start on a game that is far from release ready. Perhaps we’re too presumptuous as to when the game will be released based off the trends of the industry and how “beta” generally means “about to be released”. If they’re following the same trend then The Amazing Eternals is embarrassingly unprepared to enter a market where the other FPS games offer so much more. If the developers are simply holding back and have a lot more stuff to release then we might be proven wrong with our assessment and maybe the game will prevail.