We’ve been waiting for the upcoming time-bending FPS game Deathloop since it was first revealed at E3 in 2019. Since then we’ve gotten a ton of new details, trailers, and updates to what this game even is. This game, developed by Arkane Studios, caught many people’s eyes because it is far from your typical FPS title. Similar to the studio’s other games, Dishonored and Prey, Deathloop is all about player freedom and expression.
If you’re as excited for this experimental time-looping assassination/puzzle game as we are, you’ll want to check out our rundown of everything we know about Deathloop.
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Deathloop has been in production for years already, first shown off in the summer of 2019. The next appearance was at a Sony presentation in June of 2020 where it was given a rough release window of 2020. Due to difficulties in development throughout 2020, Arkane made an announcement that the game would be pushed into the first quarter of 2021 before finally narrowing that down to May 21. Arkane’s statement on the delay was simply that, “This extra time will allow our team to bring Deathloop’s world to life with as much character and fun as you’ve come to expect from our team.” However, the game saw one last major delay (we hope) that pushed the release date to September 14, 2021.
The second time we saw Deathloop, at Sony’s event in June of 2020, it was revealed that the title would be a console exclusive to the PlayStation 5. That means that you will only be able to pick the game up on PS5 or the PC. There was some doubt this exclusivity would remain after the news broke that Microsoft had purchased Bethesda, Arkane’s publisher, but that was proven not to be the case. Bethesda and Microsoft announced that all of their established exclusivity deals would remain intact, leaving all Xbox players out of luck when it comes to getting their hands on this game. There is some speculation that this game’s exclusivity is only for a period of time, meaning it may eventually come to the Xbox systems after a year or so, but that’s still just speculative at this point.
The official gameplay reveal trailer acts as the perfect teaser for everything we can expect from Deathloop. Aside from the actual gameplay, which we’ll go over in just a moment, the narration gives us a breakdown of the game’s main mechanical feature: Time loops. The player will take on the role of an assassin named Colt who is locked in a time loop while on a job on Blackreef Island. This loop will reset to the beginning if he fails to assassinate eight specific targets within 24 hours or he is killed in the process. No one else on the island is aware of the loop, so Colt has the opportunity to learn from his mistakes on each loop until he can get it right and escape.
The second, and latest, gameplay trailer goes into a lot more depth on how the game will be structured but also gives an even better look at the locations we will be exploring around Blackreef. It also further emphasizes this game as being more of a puzzle than a mindless shooter.
If you’ve played Arkane’s other titles, specifically any of the Dishonored games, then a lot of what you see in Deathloop will look familiar. You will of course be playing from a first-person perspective, but you have many more options than just shooting. Just like in Dishonored, the trailers show off a variety of different powers you will be able to play around with in both offensive and defensive ways, as well as for traversal. One power shown off is basically a one-for-one copy of the blink ability from Dishonored, allowing you to teleport a short distance. Other powers we’ve seen show off levitating enemies for an easy shot, slamming them against walls with a flick of the wrist, and turning invisible to sneak up on an unsuspecting target.
Aside from a variety of guns, of which we’ve seen some machine guns, rifles, and shotguns, it also looks like melee weapons will be an integral part of your arsenal. Blades in particular have been shown off when performing some very Dishonored-like stealth assassinations. These, plus certainly more we haven’t been shown, will all just be tools for solving the puzzle of figuring out how you will manage to eliminate these eight targets within the time limit and without getting killed yourself. Just like other immersive sim games, every character will have a set schedule for the loop you can learn and exploit.
The major wrinkle in your plans will be the rival assassin named Julianna. She will be a constant hunter who will try and prevent you from breaking the time loop by any means necessary and will act as the major unpredictable element to keep you on your toes. You can’t just avoid her, though, because she’s one of the eight targets you have to take out to break the loop.
Bethesda remarked on the gameplay of Deathloop by stating, “You can tackle any area of Blackreef at any time as you pick up clues and learn more about your targets. The districts are open, like what you might remember from Dishonored, but unlike Dishonored they aren’t tied to levels and can be openly explored whenever you want.” This sounds like a tantalizing mixture of the levels and routines found in the recent Hitman titles mixed with the powers and freedom Arkane is so good at.
During the State of Play event, a new gameplay demo was shown off, along with some new details from Bethesda. We already knew about some of the powers Colt will have access to, but now see that you can upgrade abilities, or get new ones, by killing the Visionaries. For example, we saw Colt get an upgrade to the Karnesis ability that allows you to essentially force-push foes. That also brought to light that not everything is reset between loops. A material called Residuum can be spent to hold onto your abilities or gear between loops, just make sure you spend it before you die or it will be lost.
This is where Deathloop really sets itself apart from most other games on the market. Julianna, the rival assassin who is constantly hunting you down, can be taken over and controlled by another human player at any point while playing. That will, obviously, make her an even less predictable target. The most comparable system would be the way invasions work in Dark Souls. Julianna will also have her own unique set of abilities, including one that allows her to disguise herself as an NPC. This is sure to make for some fun rivalries and exciting moments for both the invader and invaded. But, if you’d rather not add such a random, and potentially frustrating, element to your game you can always opt to turn this online feature off and leave Julianna as an A.I.-controlled bot.
The reward for taking out Julianna is that you can refill one of your early abilities called Reprise, which will be a massive help. What Reprise does is essentially give you a few do-overs on a single run. Normally Reprise gives you two chances to rewind time if you die and try things again, with your third death ending the day and restarting the loop. But, the best part is that time only rewinds for you, meaning all the progress you made remains. Having as many Reprise charges as possible will make completing a run far easier, but of course it won’t be easy taking out Julianna.
There is no mention of any kind of DLC plans of Deathloop yet, and it would be hard to imagine what it would look like. The Dishonored games did get some story DLC, and Prey also got a very interesting rogue-lite style expansion, so the studio isn’t opposed to adding content later on. However, considering the way the game functions, aside from perhaps changing up targets and routines on the existing level, they would have to add entirely new maps to the game if they were to add anything. If Blackreef is as complex and intricate as they promise, that would be quite a bit of work. We’ll just have to wait and see on this one.
Pre-orders are live for Deathloop and come in two tiers: The standard edition and deluxe edition. The standard edition is just the game, but for pre-ordering, you will also get a few bonuses. These include a Royal Protector Machete if you pre-order on the PS5, a new character skin named “Storm Rider,” and an equippable buff called a trinket. This will set you back the standard $60.
The deluxe edition will set you back $80 but, along with the previous bonuses, also gives you the Transtar Trencher weapon on PS5, an Eat The Rich Tribunal and .44 Karat Fourpounder weapons, the “Party Crasher” and “Sharp Shooter” skins for Colt and Julianna respectively, a selection of the game’s soundtrack, and two trinkets.
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