Overwatch may have an eye on its immediate sequel, but have you wondered what it may look like through the lens of a 2D shooter? The answer, as it happens, is SquadBlast.
The multiplayer hero shooter pits two teams of two against each other, and while it definitely offers the kind of madcap multiplayer thrills we’ve seen in games like Towerfall, the focus on objective play and map control make things much more cerebral than the gorgeous art would suggest.
We went hands-on with Ultrahorse’s title, and came away itching to play just one more round (or two, or three).
Play the Objective
The basic setup of SquadBlast is simple because it’s everything shooter fans have been doing for years – capture a point, secure a moving payload, you get the idea.
What makes things so different is the perspective – the 2D view naturally shrinks your field of view so that you can see enough to plan ahead, but not far enough where you can have every angle covered.
What’s more, you’ll find yourself able to work with your teammate to find flanking routes and set up ambushes thanks to impressive map design.
Take the payload game type, for example. The shift to 2D makes it feel closer to staying on one of those moving platforms in a Mario or Sonic game of old, only this time you’re battling to maintain control of it for as long as you can.
Weapons, get your weapons
As with any hero shooter, you’ll want to lean into character synergies if you hope to find success in SquadBlast.
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In our brief playtime, we took the sniper character Nastya for a spin. Not only does her rifle come with a handy ADS function, but hitting an enemy in the head will instantly kill them – and getting the angle just right to pull it off as they move to capture the objective is a rush. Even if you don’t nail the headshot, you can send them flying backward, too, opening up the opportunity to counter, but miss and you face a lengthy reload or resorting to your sidearm.
We were also able to bamboozle an opponent with a decoy, while other characters each offer their own tactical ability and nuances.
There’s also an arena shooter flavor to proceedings thanks to power weapons on the map. The black hole gun fires, as you’d expect, black holes capable of pulling enemies (and teammates in), while the rocket launcher feels Quake-esque in its ability to turn the tide of even a losing battle, and even allows for rocket jumping.
It’s this bizarre mix of classic and more modern mechanics, combined with a 2D perspective and colorful art that make SquadBlast feel intoxicating for shooter fans, those who enjoy party games, and competitive types.
From the short time spent with SquadBlast, we’re excited to play more.
Squad Blast doesn’t yet have a release date.