We had the chance to play Project Genesis, the upcoming mashup of space battles and close quarter combat, by 8 Circuit Studios, and it’s amazing even this early.
Project Genesis seamlessly combines first-person combat with space battles. The space battle has you piloting one of the fighters and trying to destroy the shield of the enemy's capital ship while defending your own.
The space battles can get very hectic, especially near one of the capital ships. You have to balance between defending your own ship and avoiding cannon fire and rockets while attacking the enemies'.
You can customize the available ships and pick their loadout. The hangar is very barebone for now, but it’s still very early in development so it’s fine. It’s still very limited, but you can make your ship recognizable by changing up its colors.
On the loadout side, you pick a primary and secondary weapon, of which one is set on an aimable turret and you should really only put cannons and machine guns on this one. The actual selection isn’t that large yet, but realistically, homing rockets and a canon are all you need. If you’re feeling extra spicy you can double up on the rockets and equip them in both slots.
The actual space combat is very fluid, but it has some downsides. The positive part is that it is straight-up fun. No matter if you go straight into the fight or try to sneak past everyone and attack the enemy's capital ship from behind, you’ll have fun with the combat. The weapons are also very satisfying and there’s no better feeling than flying right into an opponent and shredding their ship with your cannons and destroying it just before you collide.
The downside is how you actually move in space. You move in a plane and you can move up and down, it’s not actual flight. This makes it a lot more friendly for new players, but a more advanced flight mode would be a welcome sight.
Some of the things that are planned, but still aren’t in the game, are greater customization, new weapons, countermeasures, and unique abilities for ships. Unfortunately, we didn’t get into too much detail about what will be added, but a cloaking device was mentioned when we talked about sneaking up to the enemy capital ship.
The maps themselves are rather small, but that fits the fast-paced nature of Project Genesis. They are just big enough to force you to pick between attacking the enemy's capital ship or staying back and defending your own.
There are some buildings, asteroids, and moon surfaces to watch out for, but nothing drastic at the moment. We’ve been told that the maps will be a lot more dynamic and that you will have to adapt during a match.
Okay, you destroyed the shield on the enemy's capital ship and it’s now time to board it. Here we get to the part that I personally enjoyed more, even though it had less content and a lot more issues.
To board the capital ship, you have to pilot your fighter close to it and then breach it. Once you’re inside you have a few objectives. Disable the ship security, capture the bridge AI, disable reactor security and destroy the reactors, once it’s all completed, you win.
Again, gameplay feels very fluid. It’s an almost seamless jump from space combat into FPS mode and that is commendable. The capital ship's tight corridors and small rooms are perfect for the FPS mode. You constantly have to be on your toes and every door you open might be hiding a rifle in the hands of someone who is really not happy to see you.
This part of Project Genesis mixes some of that appeal old-school shooters had with what we expect from modern FPS games. Moments of frantic action, panicked jumping while you hope you survive the next 5 seconds, the social aspect of talking to your enemies as you run through their ship, it all blends incredibly well.
The negative sides of the FPS mode in Project Genesis are really more due to the fact that it’s still an early build and there is content missing and issues that still need to get ironed out. But why not mention them.
When it comes to the content available at the moment, there’s pretty much none. There are four different classes you can pick, but they’re currently all the same, you’ll just look different. You are also limited to only two weapons, an AR/SMG and a handgun. The SMG is actually really fun, and the handgun is nearly useless.
Moving away from content, the first two things you will notice are the objective markers and that you seriously have no idea where you’re going on the ship. The previously mentioned objectives are marked at all times and you might not be sure what you have to do first in the heat of the moment, but you just have to do them in the row they are listed. The first two objectives are on one side of the ship, just a few rooms away from each other, and the last two are on the opposite side of the ship, again right next to each other. Do it once and you’ll get the hang of it.
The layout of the ship can also be confusing the first time you play and it will take a couple of games to make a mental image of it. After a total of two hours, I felt really confident knowing the layout, but it would still happen from time to time that I miss a corner and end up in the wrong place.
Finally, hit detection was something that had me banging my head against the table. When using the SMG it’s not as noticeable, but using the handgun is absolutely impossible. To be fair, this might not really be due to hit detection, it could have been lag since there were players from around the globe. Whichever it is, it’s still in development and it’s something that will be handled.
Some of the things on the list of features and items that will be added are character customization, abilities, new weapons, throwables, and gadgets. Something that was discussed for a little longer after the playtest was the confusing layout of the ships and the possibilities went from the most obvious of adding a minimap to just ‘git gud’, so I’m personally interested in seeing what will be settled on.
In conclusion, Project Genesis already feels like an amazing game. With the caring developers behind it and the lovely community (except Nighty, he knows what he did) supporting them, Project Genesis has nowhere to go but up.