Some can attribute Fallout 76’s poor quality and handling as the sole reason for the series’ death. Some even say it began way back when Bethesda took it over and crafted it in its own liking. With The Outer Worlds raging across all boards, as the return of the original Fallout, Bethesda is currently standing on its last leg.
I mean, it’s interesting to see so many studios hooked on life-support instead of dishing out sequel after sequel of quality content. However, I can never rival Fallout to the likes of the Outer World, as much as it originated from the same source. But that’s where the new Atomic Heart comes in, a game I can comfortably compare Fallout with. So strap in and let’s get cracking.
What is Atomic Heart?
Atomic Heart and Fallout 76 both made their first appearance in 2018. But where one game was released to negative reception, the other was in early production. Yet, Atomic Heart takes you far from the country roads and throws you in a rarely visited setting, the Soviet Union. Much of it looks the same on the surface. A first-person apocalypse survival simulator with RPG elements at its core.
All coupled with the same dysfunctional AI, Super Mutants, and all kinds of nightmarish things you can only find in the Chernobyl mythos. Yet despite this image, it’s more a trip through the uncanny valley than a post-nuclear wasteland.
Welcome to the KGB
Yes, there was an accident, but not the nuclear kind, at least we hope not. Instead of a sprawling a communist wasteland, like say the Metro series, here you are placed in one specific zone. In fact, you have a designated role here whereas in Fallout you were a vault member. Enter your virtual protagonist, P-3, a KGB special agent sent in an exclusion zone to clean up a government mess. Set in an alternate future, specifically between 1930 and 1960, where humanity has evolved artificial intelligence.
Yet, after a malfunction at one of the zones, all AIs went rogue and went on a murder spree. So naturally, Mother Russia sends you, their top agent, to get in there, find out what happened, and clean the mess up. And of course, try not to draw too much attention. We would want neither those capitalist spies nor these deadly robots figuring something out, would we?
Much like its American counterpart, Atomic Heart maintains that futuristic, yet suburban dream that was dominant in the ’50s of the 20th century. Yet, here the world adapted faster, creating advanced tech that doesn’t even exist in the present day. However, much like in real life, the Soviet Union wasn’t really known for all the kindness in the world, and its murder machines prove that theory all too well. Its primary gameplay loop is that of an action-RPG, but with a greater emphasis on horror. Survival will also play a significant role when it comes to scavenging robot parts, and then utilizing them to craft meaningful items and weapons.
For all its technical marvel, it can’t be said that Atomic Heart does everything perfectly. For starters, multiple testers complained about the lack of voice acting, specifically English. Since the game is going for a more immersive sim, the dialogue is also taking note of this, being mainly in Russian, with English subs. Another concern is the direction of the plot. At its core, it’s a sci-fi horror. But after a deeper dive into the game, the developers went on and even added a love story. We heard and saw a lot of things through the entire history of gaming, but a love story in a robot infested murder nightmare? That’s new.
Then, there is the biggest concern that comes from within the company itself. Anonymous sources went online addressing the fact that during January of last year, a substantial number of employees were laid off. And that after a few months of recovering, the project is back on track, but with a notable downgrade in quality. We’ll have to wait and see if this is the case when the game comes out, but we can’t overlook that statement, no matter the validity of it.
All that put aside, we gladly look forward to Atomic Heart’s release. This is Mudfish Studios’ first major gig and a promising one at that. The game still hasn’t got an official release date, but it is announced on all platforms, except the Nintendo Switch. On top of that, multiple pre-order bonuses are also up, so if you really want something extra with the game, you can go and buy it. Be sure to follow more news about this title online, especially with rumors surfacing of a potential VR inclusion.