Arena Breakout: Infinite

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Arena Breakout: Infinite


An Extraction Shooter Fighting on Familiar Grounds

EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access

An Extraction Shooter Fighting on Familiar Grounds

It's rare to see an entire subgenre have its identity intrinsically linked for so long to a single game. Despite its growing proliferation, the extraction shooter is indelibly linked with one name. There are other games in the space, some decently successful, but far more have come and gone: in and out with a whisper. Recently we've seen a few contenders coming for the exact crown that sits atop the king of the hill, and it turns out they couldn't have picked a better time. Arena Breakout: Infinite is one such game, and it has as good a shot as any other to subvert the status quo.

Here's the short version: if you are an Escape From Tarkov die hard with three specific gripes, you're in for a treat. Tired of hackers? Want an ever-so-slightly less hardcore experience? Burned by the incredibly bold greed from developer Battlestate Games? Arena Breakout: Infinite is likely the next game for you. The rest here is for those who want their next unique experience.

Familiar Feelings

Ignore for a moment the awful title that just might remind you of a mobile game. You'd be forgiven, of course, because there is a preceding mobile game with the Arena Breakout name, but rest assured this isn't a hacky port job. What you'll find when you boot up Infinite is quite the opposite: a gorgeous shooter that features highly detailed models and textures with, most importantly, a smooth gameplay feel. But before you get shooting you'll be greeted with a familiar feeling "home base" menu.

While many areas of the menu are closed off in the closed beta you can still glean the information you need to understand what's coming, with the notable exception of a tutorial. You've got your storage, an early glimpse at the sheer depth of inventory you'll be dealing with, complete with individual magazines for weapons and different types of ammo to load into said magazines. You can also take a peek at the gunsmith, which clues you in on the staggering level of gun modification you'll eventually get up to. Primarily, though, you'll pick up some contracts and head into the danger zone.

Like it's (very obvious) inspiration, you'll have two options. Tactical Ops, which is the main way to play, is at the forefront. Take in the equipment you think you'll need, but beware that death means a loss of everything that doesn't fit into your small lockbox. Alternatively you can enter in a Covert Ops insertion (which unlocks at level 5), where you're given random equipment, allowing your hard earned goods to remain safe at the base as you scavenge for some more.

Get Lootin'

I entered my first Tactical Ops mission with the team fill option left on, mostly by accident. Because it was early in the access period, I was paired with another level 1 player (prior experience unknown) and we were on our way. I'll say it again: Arena Breakout: Infinite looks good. I had to take a moment to admire the visuals before checking the map to orient myself. Maps are often treated as luxuries in these games, but the inclusion up front here makes for a better experience. Markers are limited, so you're primarily using it to get a read on your position relative to an extraction.

Finding the loot is still up to you.

My cohort and I wordlessly worked our way through the map, and while it was clear we both had experience in this genre, it was things like the sound design that made this possible. I could hear his footsteps at my six o'clock moving to my three. We could hear our enemies shuffling off in the distance. It all felt natural. There are quick chat options to utilize, should you need them, and you can also go purely solo.

Old Battles Fought Anew

When you've finished a run, successfully or otherwise, you're given a combat history which traces your path through the level and highlights combat engagements and kills, basically the stuff that makes up the story of your mission. Should you die you'll get a readout of your damage taken, damage to your opponent (provided shots were returned, of course) and other bits of information such as the type of ammo used and where the shots hit you. If it all sounds familiar, well, it is strikingly similar to that game you've been playing, but I mean that in a good way.

I like the packaging here, but I also happen to like the game mode at the centre. Arena Breakout: Infinite executes that expansion of a classic level-based FPS well, though it does remain to be seen whether they further that expansion to form a true identity. Right now it feels like a slightly improved version of the genre's golden goose. The AI in the normal missions (harder mission areas open up later in your progression) feels fair, though not revolutionarily tactical, and in general the gunshots strike a nice balance of realistic and "video game accurate." They also seem to be making a serious effort to employ anti-cheat measures, another pratfall of contemporary games. Of course, once the full release comes around, we'll have to judge whether it falls victim to predatory monetization, but it's making a strong first impression.

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There are no guarantees - but we'd bet our own money on this one. If you're going to take a chance with yours, odds are good this one will deliver.

Hooked Gamer's Steam Early Access forecasts are intended to help you differentiate between Early Access games that have the potential to blossom and those more likely to fail. We look at the team's ambitions, their track record, and the state of the latest build to predict if opening your wallet will help fund a potentially great game, or is better used to light other fires.