Title: Shattered Skies
Available On: PC
Where To Buy: Steam
Shattered Skies is a game that promises a great deal. Survival, PvP, progression, teamwork and construction. At first glance, it’s a title that sounds very similar to other post-apocalyptic survival games. There are airdrops and loot zones in crumbling cities; while zombies are nowhere to be seen, they have instead been replaced by garish aliens.
Considering the popularity that such games like Rust, 7 Days to Die and Day Z have experienced lately, it is understandable why there is such an influx of similar titles. However, there is one thing that truly sets Shattered Skies apart from it’s brethren – and we’re not just talking about the fact it is a full release rather than Early Access.
The fact of the matter is that while all other similar titles have their problems, Shattered Skies manages to match them flaw for flaw, and then add some more on top, like some kind of rotten cherry. A bad community, an empty world, a lack of content and poorly balanced combat turns what could have been a good premise for a game into yet another frustrating title that anyone who enjoys true survival should avoid.
First, let’s talk about the main problem with Shattered Skies. There is nothing to do. You can experience pretty much all the game has to offer in the first hour of gameplay. The maps consist of loot hotspots that have a huge amount of travel time between them, while the various outposts and additional events are so infrequent that they fade into meaninglessness. Gameplay is essentially made up of the following: Spawn in, get a gun, get some ammo, trek for 15 minutes towards a loot area, get shot by someone who has far better gear than you. Respawn, try somewhere else, get shot, repeat ad nauseam.
Occasionally, you will get lucky and reach an area first or get the drop on another player and get some loot – but it’s pretty much useless. Guns have different statistics, but some are objectively worse than others – it’s not even situational. Hunger and thirst are features, but are essentially unnecessary. You are never going to be worrying about your character having enough apples and water to keep going, so I wonder why the developers bothered to keep it in. The “survival” mechanics amount to occasionally hitting a button on your toolbar and watching your thirst meter tick up. A pointless exercise in futility.
However, you could say that the survival aspects are not the main point of the game, and you would be right. Shattered Skies is supposed to be a hardcore PvP experience, and in that respect it certainly is tough and unforgiving. Unfortunately, this isn’t because of different skill levels – it all comes down to who sees who first. Armour is a factor, but not a particularly important one. If you get the first shot off with your assault rifle, you are almost certainly going to win, even against a more skilled opponent.
Firefights are short and brutal as a result, with little room for tactical movements and re-positioning. It doesn’t really matter if you’ve spent a few hours hunting down some solid weaponry when a fresh spawn can kill you just by having a faster internet connection. You can’t take a hit at all in Shattered Skies, which results in one-sided firefights and a huge amount frustration. In games like Planetside 2, this is also true. Brutal firefights can work. But the fact that you lose all your hard-earned gear and have to spawn at a random site (or outpost) after every death creates unnecessary work and travel time.
The community is equally toxic. Like a poisonous berry, it’s bitter, compact and will kill you without any kind of remorse. The global chat on each sever is filled with angry people screaming at each other, while the few groups of people who actually work together as intended will more than happily put a bullet into anyone who crosses their path, dangerous, friendly or otherwise.
The game even actively encourages this behaviour. For every kill you make, you are rewarded. If you are the aggressor, you will have a “punishment” in the form of a marker placed over your heard for a short duration – but this is far better than the alternative, which is immediately getting killed and losing all your gear. Die, and lose status and score. Kill, and briefly become a target – something which you are from the moment you step into the game anyway.
However, there are a few saving graces of the game, which is why it isn’t getting a single star. The graphics are really quite lovely, and while the sound effects are oddly balanced and far too loud in certain areas (such as indoors), they are atmospheric, creepy and are guaranteed to keep you on your toes. Some guns are a little tinny and don’t have the right amount of weight to them, but overall, the visuals and sounds are actually quite lovely.
In addition, the level designs are surprisingly good. They are clearly designed for mass gunfights between large groups of people, but aren’t really ever used. All the cover goes to waste, the multiple entry points are forgotten, the verticality of some looting zones are pointless. Perhaps I was unlucky in my choice of servers, but it feels like these areas could have facilitated some seriously fun group gunplay. But the rest of the game got in the way.
Overall, Shattered Skies was a real disappointment. The graphics and advertised gameplay made it seem really interesting, but the fact is that a lot of what was promised either doesn’t appear, or is overshadowed by other major issues. There are some updates to come later this year, but if the current status of the game is anything to go by, they won’t be adding much worth checking out. If you enjoy interacting with other players purely by means of bullets, or running in a straight line for 10 minutes only to have to respawn where you started, then Shattered Skies is the game for you.
If you’d rather spend your time actually surviving, then avoid this like the plague.
- Gameplay: Kill or be killed, but not in a fun way.
- Graphics: Lovely graphics. Too bad about the rest of it.
- Sound: Gunshots, footsteps and alien roars. Very little music.
- Presentation: Feels like an early access game.
- Graphics are nice.
- Toxic community.
- Very little content.
- Frustrating combat.
- Too much travel time.
A serial hobbyist, Jack loves everything from blacksmithing to brewing – and, of course, the occasional video game.