BREGZagu Filez: Reviewing Project Xandata at PGF 2017

Local first-person shooter (FPS) Project Xandata unveiled its first Public Alpha at last year’s Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit (ESGS), impressing con-goers with an experience that looked well beyond its alpha stages of development. The game’s developers at Secret 6, Inc. have been teasing more and more of its progress, giving us a Second Public Alpha for playtest as part of this year’s Pinoy Gaming Festival (PGF), held at the TriNoma Activity Center last wekeend, April 28-30. Kicking things up a notch, an eightteam single eliminations tournament was held with a P20,000.00 prize pool on the line.

My name is Brian and I’m part of BREGZ. We like to have fun and look at interesting gaming and fandom-related things, which is why I’m here to tell you about my Project Xandata experience during last weekend’s PGF.

 

Because really, what better way to playtest a game than some competitive play?.

At first glance:

Care clearly went into the game’s look and feel — character models look smooth and the in-game map has some neat-looking textures. The devs have stated Megaman Zero as a major inspiration for the aesthetics, and it definitely shows. The menus and the in-game environment do evoke that series’ feel of some dark future with bright colors, with the character models looking cartoony though slick and edgy.

 

Getting into it:

Customization is definitely a plus for this game’s mechanics — right now you’ve got two character classes, each with a number of different skills (thematically sorted as elemental powers) to choose from. There are enough choices to support a variety of playstyles — from using area-of-effect (AoE) to defend points, to stealthily flanking for close-range kills. You also get to choose weapon loadouts (one primary and one secondary), with all the familiar staples of shooting games: submachine guns, shotguns, sniper rifles, and so on.

The gameplay brings to mind older shooters like Unreal Tournament and Quake III: Movement feels fast and there are no cover mechanics beyond literally sidestepping behind a wall or terrain piece. Given that it’s in the alpha stages, you only get one map to play on, with one game mode that involves both teams contesting control of three points, which will be familiar to anyone who’s played most shooters in recent memory. The most ‘modern’ feature of the gameplay is that lifebars quickly regenerate, shortly after you’ve stopped taking damage – thus encouraging players to finish the fights they start, so to speak.

While the skillsets do include a choice of ultimates a.k.a. That Big Move You Do Later On That Potentially Wipes Out the Other Team, these aren’t much of a gamebreaking moment as Project Xandata is ultimately a test of FPS skill as a team.

 

Could use some work:

The game’s literally only got one map for play so far, although it is still in the Alpha and the devs have promised that a more varied selection is on the way. The biggest gameplay change between the first and second Public Alphas, was nerfing the damage on assault rifles.

David Cayuca, one of the other BREGZ in my squad (and our most FPS-proficient thanks to his CS:GO background), feels that assault rifles could do without the nerf and should have their damage and range improved. During the game, these rifles felt nigh-useless unless handled by someone with really good aim, and the long-range options ended up severely limited.

Another point he brought up is that, the delay for health recovery should be much longer. The way it played out was that players could easily recover from clashes just by ducking behind cover for a few seconds.

Still more feedback from David: He’d noticed that large explosives like grenades and rockets seemed to hit someone at full strength no matter what part of the explosion is connected. In other words, getting glanced by shrapnel on your pinky still hits like you took a direct hit. Potentially unbalancing with such weapons if they stay like this for the final build.

Last but not the least, and this one’s from BREGZ as a team, the game really does need some built-in communication in the future. Given the overall noise of the PGF event venue, having no built-in voice chat or even in-game commands was a serious hindrance to team coordination.

The devs are aiming for a Steam release, which does mean that players can count on full integration with Steam’s built-in voice chat feature.

 

In closing:

Considering this isn’t even the public release beta build yet, Project Xandata actually feels like it’s very close to being a complete product. Solid tried-and-true FPS gameplay gets enough of a twist through the customizable class/skill system, and a relatively balanced set of choices promises for some solid competitive play in the future.

As it is, Project Xandata is showing tons of promise and could very well be the Pinoy breakthrough into the world market for shooting games. I’m definitely interested to see what direction it’s going in.

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