Initial Hands-On Impressions of Shadowrun Online
Starting the Game
Upon starting the game this image is the first thing you will see. It is states rather plainly that the game is very much in its early stages of development. We wanted to include this here because they make a blunt, upfront effort to explain to players and press alike about what is and isn't in the game right now. What Cliffhanger Productions is givings us now is a the exposed, barely beating heart of Shadowrun Online.
Upon accepting this you get taken to a simple UI that shows the four missions, a PvP option, basic options and explanation of controls and a basic chat. If we havent said it enough: bare bones. The only thing you have control of is your sound options and what the pre-made characters do.
Controls and Interface
Speaking of controls, the only controls we have access to are extremely limited for a game that is aiming to be as in-depth as Shadowrun can be. What catches our eye the most here is the fact that you can only use your left mouse button to interact with the game. This is probably because the game is being released on tablets and they're aiming for one control scheme for all platforms. The giant buttons, large text, large icons and limited use of your GPU use makes that abundantly clear. All of this makes it so simplified that a finger will have a better time navigating the screens than a mouse cursor.
Getting into one of the campaign missions, or PvP, you are forced to play as Pay Day, an Orc Street Samurai with a love for machetes and Assault Rifles; and Takshek, who we can only assume is an Elf Mage with a shotgun. What that means, in terms of what gameplay, is that we have a choice of three different attacks for each weapon choice and nothing more than that. Maneuvers are boiled down to simple click a button and then click a guy or an area to hopefully deal damage.
This game and Shadowrun Returns, which is another Shadowrun game that has been released and highlighted on the Shadowrun website, look like they are twins. This is an important aspect for the Shadowrun franchise as it shows a unity in how they want to present the game from here out. The problem is that the distinction between Shadowrun Online and Shadowrun Returns only appears to be a multiplayer aspect.
There are some very interesting features planned on the game's Kickstarter page. The ability to affect the world of pen-and-paper Shadowrun through the Corp runs you do in the game is a very interesting feature. It is hard to understand how such an online environment could be translated to a slow moving tabletop game but we are eager to see where it goes.
The main thing turning us off here is the price tag for what will essentially be a tablet optimized game. 30$-50$ USD and paying for additional releases every three to four months seems way over the top for such a game. Especially when you consider how incredibly similar the core gameplay is to Shadowrun Returns.
Right now the game is lacking a lot of features and can't be considered much more than a technical demo. This makes it hard to say how it will turn out once the game is fully released. What we can say is that we're willing to set aside the tablet optimization they are leaning towards so long as they breath life into the Shadowrun video game market. Recent games with incredibly simple interface have proven to use that what matters most to us is how lost we can get into a game.