One of my favourite games growing up, was the earlier Fallout series, specifically, Fallout Tactics. A different take on the first 2 games, this spin off took you through a chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel, and allowed you to recruit new members into the order, and grow your squad for missions going up against a variety of enemies.
Another game that I was a huge fan of, but never played on PC, was the XCOM series. The turn based tactical shooter to me always felt like the games of my childhood, but thrown into a more modern age and with more modern engines. End of last year I noticed Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden on Steam, but never really took a lot of notice although it did stand out to me. The graphics and turn based strategy concepts stood out as something appealing to me, who as a gamer, prefers a lot more in-depth strategy based games rather than point and shoots.
One of the major benefits of Xbox Game Pass is to play a huge plethora of games, and only pay $15 (AUD) per month, so when I saw Mutant Year Zero on Game Pass I couldn’t wait to take up the opportunity to play – and I was not disappointed.
at its core is a semi open-world strategy game with free movement of your 3
person party and conducting missions for
“The Ark”, the last known supposed bastion of humanity. However, the
game (being based off the board game of the same name), throws in an RPG aspect
for the player with abilities to level up that can range from destroying enemy
cover, mind controlling enemy NPCs in a certain radius to you, and forcing NPCs
to stay rooted to their current location (handy for rooting more Melee based
NPCs and picking them off one by one).
You start the game with Bormin and Dux, two mutant “stalkers” working for the Ark scavenging supplies to ensure the Ark remains functional, and its occupants, safe. Mutant Year Zero slowly drops you into the mechanics with easier enemy encounters, stealth mechanics, and near endless opportunity for unlimited strategy. Eventually the game scale’s its complexity and characters across the map called “the zone”, with certain areas of the map either locked due to progression or filled with more complex enemies.
The story itself is gently dropped in excellent conversation between the characters in the party (I played mostly with Bormin, Dux and then rotated a 3rd out between Selma and Magnus). You learn about the world, their take on things like “Fallen Angels” (helicopters) and Metal Bird’s (Planes) of which these have crashed and are areas to explore, and for the characters to comment on as you roam around the world. There is also plenty of extra info if you want to look for it as well, in the form of messages left on tablets strewn around the wreckage of the civilians who formerly inhabited the area now called The Zone. Similar to Grimoire cards in Destiny, you can search through a collected index of info from sad messages you see, if you are also a hard core completionist, these notes are apart of the collectables to gather around the world.
During my first play-through, I had my characters at level 19, and had to go through some level 25 areas. The skills of my characters were fairly decent to combat other NPCs, but I had a fair few deaths before I figured out strategies that worked to isolate more aggressive NPCs and successfully traverse the area.
That, in essence, is one of the main charms of Mutant Year Zero, is the strategy mechanic.
Dying repeatedly gives the player immense frustration, but beneath the underlying attack, death, repeat, gives the player the chance to figure out which mechanic works the best in order to completely waste your enemies.
And when you figure out a strategy that works? You definitely feel like a mastermind who has outwitted a significant foe that outnumbered you 3 to 1.
game’s combat mechanics shift the free movement prior to combat, into a turn
based combat mode, where you can ambush enemies to get the drop on them and
attack first, or you can stumble into their cones of vision where the Ghouls
get first attack onto the Stalkers. Depending on how you play, you can run and
gun, equip armor that absorbs pyro attacks and use characters like Bormin to
destroy cover then pick off targets one by one; or you can take a rush approach
and use a variety of abilities, grenade types and weapons (with varying mods as
well) to stun, immolate and knock back enemies before finally finishing them
Aside from the combat mechanics, the game (as played on an Xbox One Day One Console), looks really good at 1080p. The game plays at a solid framerate, there is minimal to no stutter (there is a speed through enemy combat mechanic which does have a few chances to slow up and stutter depending on how many enemies are on screen), the interface is minimal and doesn’t distract from what is going on the screen whether the player is in stealth mode or just normally jogging around from area to area within the zone.
Mutant Year Zero is the love child of Fallout 1 & 2, and the XCOM games, giving a great take on the post-apocalypse genre, as well as filling a void that the Fallout games haven’t filled for me since New Vegas. Games like Arma 3 can be modded with mods like Exile to give a better DayZ style experience, but as the years have gone on and player counts have dwindled the overall appeal to go play near empty servers gets less and less.
If you want a strategy game, filled to the brim with replayability, RPG elements and overflowing with detail & small little nuances that make the experience feel complete? Mutant Year Zero ticks every box for any kind of hardcore strategy gamer or a casual wanting a decent challenge.
There is a free demo on PC through Steam if you want to give the game a go!
Standard Edition is $42.95 USD on PC, XBOX ONE and PS4 or you can buy it direct from the Developer here: https://buy.mutantyearzero.com/