Atlas Fallen

Atlas Fallen

We have returned to the sands to see if Deck 13 has been able to elevate its title. But can they really do it?

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In March I had the chance to be among the first to experience the action and exploration of a desolate world that Deck 13 has created in Atlas Fallen. From that first experience I was left with a bitter aftertaste and a serious concern about the game, so I breathed a little easier when the studio announced a delay of several months in order to polish the title. Many of the issues I reported at the time (such as the clunky combat or the movement so similar to the infamous Forspoken) have admittedly changed (for the better). But at the same time, with the full version of the game, some other shadows have surfaced on the sands of Atlas that fail to dispel my frown.

Atlas Fallen

Still, I'm going to start with what is arguably Atlas Fallen's greatest strength: its story. Deck 13 has put a lot of effort into building a world full of points of interest and spectacular places to surf the sand (which is great and better achieved than in Square Enix's game), and they've also given it a huge amount of backstory. Each region, settlement and even many of the NPCs have a piece of backstory that gives them personality and credibility, and that's something I (as a fantasy lover) really appreciate. The central core, despite being the most common cliché of any epic, has a certain hook.

In the world of Atlas, a cruel god named Thelos rules over humanity, which he keeps subjugated by working in mines in search of spice, a strange source of power. From that spice also come the main dangers that lurk among the desolate sands: the Wraiths. Entities of varying shape and power that roam the world attacking everyone they meet. It has been 10 years since the last humans put up resistance, the knights of Bastengar, were swept away by the might of the god and his chief champion, the Thousand Year's Queen, but there is still a glimmer of hope. We begin our adventure as a Nameless One, one of the countless slaves employed by the servants of the god Thelos to extract and transport the precious spice to the capital of Atlas, who, when sent to certain death in a sandstorm, discovers the Gauntlet, the legendary weapon with which to face the wraiths and the fiery god himself. The item also contains a voice belonging to Nyaal, an entity who appears to be an antagonist to the dominant deity, encouraging us to stand up to him and break free from his chains.

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From here begins a great journey through four semi-open regions where we will be helping the population with their problems while trying to rebuild the fragmented Gauntlet and recover its lost powers. The latter is the main goal, and with each replenished piece of the accessory, we gain abilities to move faster, jump and propel us further through the air and open up new paths through the sand. I think it's a good focal point, because movement is another one of the most fun things to do in Atlas Fallen. There are huge rifts that separate landmasses like islands, and we'll have to explore until we find each fragment and restore them on an anvil (a point that also serves as a quick hub to upgrade skills and equipment, and as a fast travel point). This exploration movement has improved slightly since the March test, and I'm glad to say that, while there are still some "robotic" jumps, the final feel works and invites you to move around the world.

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Of course, searching for shards means dealing with their guardians and everything in between. Wraiths are pretty tough enemies (at least during the early stages of the game), so each confrontation will require a certain amount of skill and not just repeatedly hitting the attack button against them. Their variety, both in designs and attacks, is more than adequate, and there are a couple of them that will really put you on the ropes every time you encounter them. The system, as I said previously, draws heavily from God of War, with normal and strong attacks, a parry and equipment that adds modifiers to our stats or skills.

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This point, the customisation of our fighting style, is perhaps the most authentic thing about Atlas Fallen, as although it is based again on Kratos' abilities in the 2018 title, here there are also many more options available, some designed to exploit the cooperative experience that was so emphasised in its presentation. You have over 100 abilities (or essence shards), split between active and passive, dealing with attack, defence and health recovery. You can find them while exploring the world or defeating enemies, and you can also create them through recipes using the crafting materials that upgrade armour as well. And the best thing is that you can swap them and create different builds at any time from the menu. If you're playing solo, the best thing to do would be to use the ones marked in red (boosting attack), but if you're playing with an ally, maybe adding some blue or yellow ones for defence and recovering health points in an area would be a good idea.

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Although each region has its own biome and different ways of moving around the environment, in the end the side activities are extremely generic and somewhat sparse, there is no risk or innovation here. As we move around the map, points of interest will appear where we will have to perform typical arena combat missions, defeat elite enemies, activate watchtowers or find chests in "treasure map" missions. There's not a single thing we haven't seen before 'ad nauseam', and considering that the side quests are just as generic (yes, we also have a mission to collect 10 items scattered around the city to get crafting materials). That, and the fact that all the lore and backstory is quickly left behind by the compressed main storyline means that the magic is lost a bit.

Sure, there are also minor bugs in combat. Some moves feel unnatural, there are collision errors and side activities like crossing off points in a list. But all of these can be fixed in a release patch. There are also timing errors (and even wrong lines) in the dialogue and cinematic scenes. This was serious, because there were certain moments in the story where I felt lost because of these errors (which occur throughout the game) and took me out of the already fragile gameplay loop.

I appreciated that the game is a "short" story by today's standards. And despite Deck 13 saying the game takes about 15-20 hours to complete, I've seen the credits on my PS5 in less than 12 hours. It's a story that will give you a few hours of fun, but won't be too memorable either.

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07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
Entertaining story. Thrilling movement. Deep customisation suite.
World isn't very compelling to explore. Dull side quests. Still faces issues with bugs.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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Atlas Fallen

REVIEW. Written by Alberto Garrido

We have returned to the sands to see if Deck 13 has been able to elevate its title. But can they really do it?

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