“Atlas Fallen” alluded to: As impressive as loveless
Nicer, bigger, but also better? After their respectable successes “Lords of the Fallen” and the two “The Surge” games, Deck 13 wants to get involved with “Atlas Fallen” in the concert of the big ones. The result is an open-world game that routinely ticks off all the checklists of the genre and is as impressive as it is loveless.
A world silted up
Nothing is like it used to be in the world of Atlas. Only memories remain of the gods who once walked these endless sand dunes. There are ruins everywhere, through which monsters large and small roam and the people have retreated to a few places of refuge. A heroine suddenly appears among them who, through a mysterious spirit, comes into possession of the Gauntlet, a powerful glove. With the help of this artifact and her invisible companion, she sets out to solve the mysteries of the past.
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Impressive, but unimaginative: Deck 13 stages an impressive open-world game that lacks originality. (Image: heise online)
Deck 13 makes extensive use of great role models: the ruinous end-of-time scenario is reminiscent of “Horizon: Zero Dawn”, the mysterious companion is almost mandatory in the genre to comment on the hero’s deeds and the mission design is more than well-known: Go there , flatten some monsters; gather some plants or bring me this artifact. There are a few skill trials that have players running from one location to another at high speed. In addition, altars are destroyed and viewpoints are sought. The whole thing can also be done online with another player. Anyone who knows a modern open-world game like one of the last “Assassin’s Creed” games will find something familiar here.
Even the gauntlet, which opens up essential game elements as a kind of multifunctional tool and weapon, is reminiscent of Aloy’s spear in the “Horizon” games. What remains is the possibility of gliding through the sand as if on ice skates. The rest is the skilful processing of proven game mechanics, which we already know well enough from the big genre competition.
When gambling becomes work
A trend in the open world genre does not stop at “Atlas Fallen”: Force complexity where originality is missing. The numerous game locations and the many missions give the illusion of a huge, living world in which there is nothing to discover. Unlike in “Horizon: Zero Dawn” or “Red Dead Redemption 2”, the stories of the side missions are only an alibi to send the players into the adventure. We quickly ticked off these missions during the opening hours in order to get some money and raw materials. To do this, we have to click from one menu to the next to switch weapons, exchange skills or read through messages. Can’t it be a little easier?
The same applies to the combat system. In games like “Dark Souls” a mix of a few hitting techniques and dodging or parrying was enough to ensure exciting and challenging fights. In “Atlas Fallen” there are only a few main weapons with the Gauntlet, a hatchet or a chain weapon, but they have it all. Deck 13 gives each weapon eight to nine hit combinations by mid-game. Countless abilities, called essence stones here, can be combined with attacks in several stages and improved with the appropriate raw materials. In addition, each shot generates a so-called momentum, which makes some shot techniques possible in the first place.
An overview of the different fighting techniques is difficult. But they are necessary nonetheless. Most of the time the fights are against larger opponents who summon a few more helpers. They often attack from the air and from the ground at the same time. Opponents must be countered or slowed down with special attacks. Some opponents offer different hit zones that can be attacked in a targeted manner. Even on the middle of three levels of difficulty, the horizontal and vertical combat becomes a great challenge reminiscent of the “Soulslike” games. If you only master a few punch combos here, you won’t get far.
During the opening hours, we often wished that just as much work had gone into the story and the world as into the highly complex combat system. Instead, the heroine, or alternatively the hero, is completely interchangeable and the story barely moves. Although the missions are challenging, they are not very original and apart from other monsters there is little to discover in Atlas. It all looks great and is synchronized in a high-class way, but lacks the excitement and the wow effect that distracted from the well-known game principle in other blockbusters.
Deck 13’s “Atlas Fallen” is challenging, impressive to watch, but unimaginative and unnecessarily complex. Tinkerers will be happy if they can deal with the fighting techniques for hours, but newcomers face a huge hurdle. Deck 13 routinely ticks off all the tried-and-tested game elements of the competition, but rarely finds its own way. The smooth technical implementation and the visual impact of this open-world action deserves respect, especially since there has hardly been anything comparable from Germany that has earned the term “Triple-A”, at least technically. But if you want to lose yourself outside of the challenging fights in a large, lively open world, you can look back enviously at the great role models.
“Atlas Fallen” will be released on August 10th for Windows, PS5 and Xbox Series. USK from 12. It costs around €60. For our try-out, we played for a few hours on the PS5.
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