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Agents of Mayhem Hands On Preview

Come for the 80s homage, stay for the Saints Row shenanigans.

It’s no secret to the people at PixlBit that I am a huge fan of the Saints Row series. The last two games are among my favorite games from the last generation, and I eagerly await the next chapter in the increasingly bonkers tale of the Third Street Saints. In the interim, I am certainly interested in Agents of Mayhem, a spinoff of Saints Row that seeks to blend the over the top humor and gameplay from that franchise with the character and special powers of squad based shooters like Overwatch. After playing the game at E3 I am still interested, but I also have some concerns.

From the outset, I am totally picking up what developer Volition is putting down. I love the cheesy 80s action cartoon vibe that they are going for, both in aesthetics and feel. Much in the way the cartoons I grew up on were thinly disguised commercials for action figures I came away from my Agents of Mayhem demo wanting some of these colorful characters on my shelf at home. I was particularly taken with Daisy, a buff, tattooed rollergirl sporting a Bettie Page ‘do and a massive Gatling gun. Not being able to create my own character is a bummer, but I’m ready to fall in love with the cast of Mayhem.

I’m less ready to fall in love with the core gameplay of Mayhem. I won’t deny that I found it hard to go back to “normal” traversal mechanics after the super speed, super jump insanity that was Saints Row IV, which may not be entirely fair to Agents of Mayhem. Characters are able to triple jump and then dash through the air, so the mobility afforded them is already far beyond your average third person shooter, but I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing; like the game was set to 9 when I was expecting 11. Shooting is “fine”, just like it was in the Saints games, but as far as I can tell, each character only has one weapon. Even with the ability to swap between three characters at any time, this still feels like a big step back when it comes to trying to find creative ways of taking enemies down. The agents also have a special ability, a Mayhem (read: super) move, and passive traits which makes switching on the fly a necessity, but it will take longer to get used to the core game loop this time around.

The biggest issue I found with my demo was something that has become a worrisome trend as of late: bullet sponge enemies. Agents of Mayhem opts for a more RPG approach to the combat, with enemies having numerical hit points and damage numbers that pop up as they take damage. However, enemies just took too long to go down. I’m not sure if this was a case of the agents needing to level up, or if I wasn’t using the right agent for the job, but I never felt powerful during the lengthy E3 demo. This was exacerbated by a boss fight that can only be called a slog, thanks to him having three layers of hit points to shoot through, while tons of grunts kept coming in to distract me from the task at hand.

I’m rooting for Agents of Mayhem, because I appreciate its humor, setup, and world. But I’m not sold on the core gameplay. As with all demos, this could just be a matter of fine tuning, and perhaps once I get my hands on the final product these issues will be ironed out. But with the game coming out in just a couple of months it may be best to keep expectations in check on this one. 


 

Comments

Super Step

07/07/2017 at 11:21 AM

Eeewww, bullet sponges.

So do they have concern cards or some form of feedback from players on the show floor when y'all suspect some issues? 

Julian Titus Senior Editor

07/07/2017 at 04:52 PM

Nah, I don't think they really care what people on the floor think. I'm sure they read previews from major outlets like IGN and Game Informer though. 

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