There have been a lot of “spiritual successors” to the STALKER franchise, such as the Metro series and the upcoming Suvarium MMO that is currently in production. However, the newly formed indie studio, West Games, hopes to make the best one yet. Comprised of a number of ex-STALKER and Metro developers, West Games is looking to finally bring that spiritual successor you’ve all been waiting for to fruition with Areal.
Areal, according to the developers, will feature “a massive and intricately detailed open world environment that is extremely varied and colorful, even though it’s set in a post-apocalyptic setting.”
The story is already sounding quite interesting as the game takes place in a “future where civilization has fallen apart due to an unearthly material called Metamorphite, which eventually spreads, corrupts and infects the whole world. The source of Metamorphite comes from a meteor that impacted the earth long ago, and it is the site of constant conflict and bloodshed. ”
Areal is also taking cues from RPGs, but expanding on the premise as well. There won’t be one set path to take in the game world, allowing you to freely craft your own adventure and make the choices that you want to make in both gameplay and dialogue. There will be no morality system in the game, so whatever choice you make will have both expected and unexpected outcomes. The developer’s upcoming Kickstarter page, which you can view now as a draft, provides some further detail on the game’s story progression.
Areal’s story-line is split into a variety of non-linear and branching missions that can be completed simultaneously. Every mission is made in such a way that the outcome varies for each individual player. In other words, your play style and choices drastically change and alter Areal’s story-line and landscape. No matter how you choose to play Areal; you are guaranteed an absolutely engrossing and immeasurably grand experience. Areal also features a variety of unique side missions and activities that complement the game’s primary missions. You don’t have to complete them, but we highly recommend that you do, because they hold the answers to many secrets within Areal.
One of the unique things about Areal, however, will be its X-Life system. Instead of trying to explain exactly how this system works to you in my own words, I’ll let the developers explain:
X-life is a unique system that simulates life and adjusts to every action that the player makes. You can regularly observe and interact with the environment that surrounds you. Accidental encounters with mutants and other foes brings new and completely dynamic combat situations that always differ from one another.
This system dictates how enemies move and how they react within various environmental circumstances. With the help of X-life, enemies will move throughout various terrain obstacles with ease and extreme realism. They will dynamically adjust their play-style, combat characteristics and armor to suit the conditions that they are in.
The general behavior that is exhibited by mutants is also controlled by the X-life system. There are various types of mutants, and they all have unique traits and personalities. An example of this is that some mutants prefer to hunt in a pack, while others prefer to go it alone. In battle, mutants make use of various tactics that vary depending on the environmental circumstances that they find themselves in. For example, a lone wolf will try to ambush you, while a pack of wolfs will aggressively attack you from all sides.
The enemy AI in the game is very interesting as West Games are taking a non-traditional approach to creating more challenging enemies. For a boss encounter, you would usually expect clichéd higher hit counts and more powerful attacks. In Areal, the higher ranking enemies will be much smarter, “using their surroundings, using teamwork and adapting to your play-style so as to present more enjoyable and unpredictable game-play.”
Lastly, when we think of open world games nowadays, we think about a game that lets you travel anywhere without boundaries. Thankfully, West Games has that plan in mind for Areal with an interesting twist.
Areal is divided into 3 primary zones – green, yellow and red – the green zone has anomalies, but they are rare and move only when they appear or “erupt”. Various electronic equipment and modes of transport are usable within this zone. The yellow zone has a large amount of anomalies that move very frequently and at random. No electrical equipment works in the yellow zone, and means of conventional transport are virtually nonexistent. Every person who enters the red zone becomes irreparably irradiated and transforms into something that has characteristics that are akin to a zombie. Even from the very beginning of the game, you can venture into the depths of Areal, though you might be slightly unprepared if you go too far into the yellow zone…
Currently, Areal is a single player only title. Some of the later stretch goals for the game do indicate that it may have multiplayer added if it reaches those goals. Another interesting thing about Areal is its choice of platforms for release. Areal, if funded, will release on the PC, Xbox One, PS4 and — wait for it — Wii U. Yeah, we’re serious. West Games plans on bringing Areal to the Wii U. Do I need to say that again so you’ll believe it?
So, Nintendo owners, if you’re looking for that third party game that’s for mature audiences you may want to pitch some funds at the Areal Kickstarter when it goes live on the 24th. We’ll bring you all the latest updates on Areal as its development continues so be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date.