Last year’s top guilty favourite action game has received a big free combat update

By admin Apr15,2024

Wanted: Dead is a terrible game that I sort of adore. Created by some of the people behind the Ninja Gaiden series, it’s the kind of rough diamond or perhaps, chunk of lacerating windscreen glass you find at the bottom of a mouldy box at a service station car boot sale along a particularly depressed stretch of the UK’s M1.

The setup is that you’re a hard-boiled cybernetic cop called Hannah Stone who must carve her way through assorted cyberpunky backwaters using a mixture of sword-and-pistol gun-fu melee and Gearsy over-the-shoulder shooting. Between the missions you explore a police station full of lost souls carrying stationery supplies, and participate in anime-rific interludes such as competitive ramen-eating. The storytelling and production values are all over the shop – there are some handsome cutscenes and boutique third-party backstory animations, but the localisation appears to have been carried out by throwing darts at a map. Story “highlights” include a comedy sexpest, assorted racial stereotypes and a gun-dealing cat lady voiced by Quiet off Metal Gear Solid 5, who also contributes vocals to the game’s 70s-80s soundtrack.

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The missions are often awful and sometimes inspired. The third-person shooting is bolt-on gubbins, the levels are remorselessly checkpoint-based with a grating dependence on reinforcement waves, and your accompanying yee-haw police squad exist mostly to confuse you about who’s shooting who. But the gun-fu melee combat is enjoyably backwards, with Hannah using her pistol for defence and parrying a la Bloodborne, while restoring health using finishers that teleport you between targets. There’s a strange genius to Wanted: Dead, and now, the game has received a big update that makes some pretty extensive-sounding changes to the combat.

Here’s developer Soleil Ltd’s overview for the update, via Steam.

This is the first major update for Wanted: Dead that introduces key changes to the combat system, featuring an overhauled Skill Tree system for more strategic gameplay, improved Adrenaline Mode, and new abilities. Weapons, both ranged and melee, have been rebalanced to reward skilled players. This update focuses on enhancing the gameplay experience — making combat deeper and the game more enjoyable for all players. Additionally, we’ve packed a ton of requested features, fixes and optimizations to make everything run smoother. Have fun!

And here’s my quick-and-dirty breakdown of the subsequent changelog. The update expands the game’s skill tree and modifies a few existing skills, meaning you’ll have to redistribute skill points if you’re halfway through a playthrough.

New skills include a self-explanatory Sliding Shot and Limb Shooter, which gives you a chance of removing arms and legs from afar. Adrenaline Rush triggers a 10 second period of slow-mo after using Bullet Time, during which damage taken will decrease the slow-mo period rather than your HP – in other words, you can use it to either perform a precise attack or tank some damage. There’s a bunch of auxiliary upgrades for Adrenaline Rush that increase damage or reduce damage taken while using it. Bullet Time aiming, meanwhile, now applies slow-mo only to enemies, not Hannah.

Chase all that down with a heaping helping of balancing adjustments to stun and damage across the whole weapon roster. They’ve also patched out some exploits, like being able to change a grenade’s type while it’s flying through the air, and made a lot of broader technical fixes and tweaks to things like minigame frame-rate, dodgy lighting and the misbehaviour of certain boss healthbars.

Will it be enough for RPS reviewer Ed Thorn to upgrade the game into a Bestest Best? I doubt it, but this is more post-release support than I was expecting after the launch reception. Perhaps I’ll fish Wanted: Dead out of the dumpster over the weekend and give those new skills a try.

By admin

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