Ashfall was first announced at Tokyo Game Show last year, but the third-person shooter MMO from flew under my radar until a few days ago when it got a new trailer (above) and the announcement of a July beta test. It looks cool!
Well, sometimes. The trailer is inconsistent: Some of the environments are magnificent—there’s a sweet Star Wars-lookin’ scene at 2:10—but others are decidedly homely and the animations seem choppy and stiff. Ashfall is releasing on PC and mobile devices, and perhaps some compromises have been made because of that (improving the PC graphics is the subject of a Legendary Star Studios dev blog post from last year), but the giant, bucking capybara is enough to get me to sign up for a free beta.
And even if Ashfall turns out to be a bit patchy, it might be nice to poke around in a wasteland we haven’t seen before.
Ashfall is obviously inspired by Fallout—there’s a vault door opening scene early in the trailer and later a dude in an unmistakable take on power armor—but publisher NetEase points out that its “Eastern-inspired wasteland” is “an aesthetic seldom seen in post-apocalyptic games,” and I think that’s fair to say. The most recognizable videogame wastelands to me are set in the US and Eastern Europe: Fallout, The Division, Metro, Stalker. Ashfall’s architecture definitely feels distinct from the ruins in those games, at least outside of the standard dingy metal hangouts.
“From the decorations in the festive shelters of Hope Town to the hall filled with Eastern shrines, players will have the chance to experience a whole new kind of wasteland in Ashfall,” writes NetEase.
Other inspirations are apparent in the trailer, too: I see a bit of the Metro series in the early scenes, some Matrix-eque tentacled flying robo-monsters appear at one point, and there’s a dinosaur, which is maybe inspired by Ark, or just by dinosaurs.
We don’t see a whole lot of direct gameplay, but the glimpses we do get show over-the-shoulder shooting and a bit of home customization. NetEase describes Ashfall like this:
“At its core, Ashfall is a third-person shooter, with players fighting back to back and exploring dangerous dungeons in search of loot. The combat system involves cover shooting elements, as players dash between vantage points to get in an enemy’s blind spot and fight them from a safe position. Outside of the combat, the trailer also shows off Ashfall’s puzzles, home-building, and weapon-crafting systems, allowing you to participate in different survival experiences in this post-apocalyptic world.”
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One other notable detail: Ashfall is being scored in part by Inon Zur, who composed scores for the Bethesda Fallout games. I rewatched the trailer after learning that and phew, yeah: Sounds like a Bethesda game! Along with Zur, film composer Steven Mazzaro and the legendary Hans Zimmer are producing Ashfall’s score, because why not? (It’s not the first game for Zimmer, whose credits include Beyond: Two Souls, Crysis 2, and the original Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.)
Ashfall was originally going to release this year, but the developer just announced that it’s pushing the launch to summer 2024. There will be “several beta tests” before then, though, starting with the first closed beta period this July.
You can express interest in that July beta by wishlisting Ashfall on Steam, says NetEase, but there’s also a beta sign-up form on the official site—the latter seems to me like the surer way to put your name in the mix.