Pirates are cool, space is cool, and space pirates muster up pixelated memories of Metroid, which when done right can make for a great experience. Thankfully, DONTNOD ELEVEN's BATTLECREW: Space Pirates does just that. It’s a high-octane shooter on Early Access, filled to the brim with personality that borrows the very best ideas from the very best games across multiple genres. It’s a sidescrolling, loot plunging, 2D take on the hero shooter genre that reeks of potential.
With games like Overwatch, Paladins, and to a lesser extent Battleborn taking the spotlight by cultivating an interesting take on First Person Shooters mixed with MOBA elements, it was only a matter of time before we got our Terraria to the genre’s Minecraft, and for all intents and purposes, BATTLECREW: Space Pirates can be that if the team at DONTNOD manage to build an enthusiastic community to participate. While that is a noble goal, it is also a challenging task, especially when a game like this lives and dies by its community. Allowing for eight people to play at once, BATTLECREW: Space Pirates’ maps have the potential to bustle with pure chaos. That’s just a theory however, because in my time previewing BATTLECREW: Space Pirates I didn’t manage to actually play against real people. Instead, I ended up playing many 2v2 matches squaring up against computers. Even without real people, it was really fun.
Players can participate in a standard, run of the mill team deathmatch, but the mode that will probably get the most enthusiasm is “Goldrush”. In this mode, players are pitted against each other in 4v4 action with a time limit where the goal is to find treasure chests. From there they must make a dash back to the base to unload the plunder. At the end of the time limit, the player that has the most treasure wins (crazy concept, I know). There is some strategy that goes into this, as the game almost feels like a pseudo-metroidvania title utilizing multiple branching pathways with some that only go in one direction. Finding the route that best suits your character is imperative.
With that said, at the moment, there isn’t a lot in the way of playable characters (more have already been announced, so don’t worry). Much like Battleborn, each character is packed to the brim with over-the-top personality, and their play styles and special moves compliment that. There’s John Trigger, a rifle-shooting marine-type, Janger, a close encounter blade specialist tiger-man, and Comet, a dual-wielding pistol woman. As much as I wanted to specialize with close combat, I found anyone with a ranged weapon was immediately better. There really is no reason to use Janger at the moment, and any melee character could be at a huge disadvantage as there is no compensation for their lack of projectile ability. Normally, a close encounter specialist would make up for that with speed, however that didn’t seem to be the case. My personal favourite is John Trigger. His automatic rifle and rocket special attack made him the most efficient of the bunch, despite his relatively basic nature. In terms of combat, BATTLECREW: Space Pirates is easy to jump into with the mouse controlling the characters aim, typical controls to move the character, and each character coming equipped with two special moves. It blends the 2D adventure aspect of Metroid with combat inspired by MOBAS mixed with a bit of Contra. All of this blends into a hectic title that is just fun to play.
While BATTLECREW: Space Pirates is still in Early Access, DONTNOD ELEVEN has all the right tools to make a memorable online experience. By blending the best of various standouts in their respected genres, there’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to this 2D hero-shooter. I’m interested to see BATTLECREW: Space Pirates a little more fleshed out, but even in playable development, it’s a fun experience.