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  • Writer's pictureMichael Stewart

Review: Shatterline

'Shatterline', is early development arena-style FPS shooter which dropped its open beta (full release late February 2023) September 2022 I fumbled upon recently deep in the steam jungle. In recent months we can all agree that finding a good game to pass the time has been challenging, but after over 24 hours of gameplay, I can confidently say this game is on to something. Eye-catching graphics, smooth gameplay, addicting PvP matches, unique game modes, a wide range of maps, and not to mention FREE. Players choose from 8 operatives, each succumbing to different playstyles and an armory of 25 customizable weapons of 4 different categories. Play high-paced arena PvP or enjoy the co-op expedition mode (which I found challenging), a game mode with potential.

Expedition mode was the first thing I played after downloading the game. The graphics quality was the first thing that caught my eye along with the bodacious boss fights. Four levels for every mission, each level crueler than the last. However, expedition mode grows tiresome with repetitive gameplay and non-stop AI combat. Nowadays I only use expedition mode for the XP and 'blueprint' benefits (blueprints unlock special upgrades for guns along with cosmetics). If expedition mode focused more on the storyline and included more environmental interaction I think I could play this mode more consistently.

Escort, team deathmatch, plant the bomb, and conquest are the 4 multiplayer modes available online. Escort is very idiosyncratic and has been hands down my favorite game mode thus far. Defense vs offense is the name of the game, offensive teams escort a 'wagon' through the map until the opposing team can stop them. To move this wagon at least one player must be within the highlighted perimeter surrounding this wagon. 4 minutes is the timeline allotted for your wagon to move between checkpoints. A win on offense means leading your wagon to the final checkpoint. Teams switch sides once a round ends and the roles are reversed. The team that travels the furthest is given the W. Smoke grenades for cover, snipers up in towers, and a hectic back and forth that will have you playing for hours on end. My only complaint about this game mode is that it only exists on one map, but with recent news from the developers, a new map will be added on the 28th of September exclusively for 'Escort March'.

I consider it rare to find a game nowadays where the developers listen to their audience. The Shatterline team is named "Frag Lab" and has several avenues by which feedback is taken and implemented into the game. Discord, steam reviews, and "in-game telemetry data". What piqued my interest was the fact that this team plays the game themselves every day. Playing your own game and experiencing for yourself what you've brought into fruition is, in my opinion, the key to a franchise's long-term success. It seems easy now for big-time names to rush games out the door and turn a blind eye to their community, essentially indifferent to the results and only motivated by revenue. Time and time again we see the Twitter wars between players and developers, and time and time again we see games that could be great fall because of a lack of communication and straight-up ignored communities. That is why I find it highly important we give praise to new developments that get it right as Frag Lab has here. They listen to their community and update the game often.

Lastly, I'd like to add that this team is based out of Kyiv, Ukraine. The dedication required to not just produce a game in the midst of war, but a quality game while at war is awe-inspiring, to say the least. Give Shatterline a shot and support this highly talented and creative group.

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