Atomic Heart has been on many radars since it was first announced several years ago, with every one of its showings in the time since then promising a bizarre, high-octane, and eye-popping shooter. Recently, developer Mundfish and publisher Focus Entertainment announced a concrete launch date for the game, and with its release now firmly in sight and only a little over a couple of months away, Atomic Heart finally seems to be within touching distance. As we look ahead to its launch, here, we’re going to go over a few key details about the game that have caught our eye.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Atomic Heart – maybe even the most intriguing aspect of them all – is the game’s set. It takes place in an alternate history 1950s Soviet Union. Following the Second World War, the world saw a sudden explosion in technology, and things such as the internet, artificial intelligence, robots, and more have already become a part of society. At the same time, the political and social troubles that you’d associate with the 1950s are also very much at the forefront, and all of this and more is coming together to spell inevitable trouble for what seems like a utopian society- but is hiding some deep and dark secrets.
Given its unique setting, what exactly is the main drive of Atomic Heart’s story? Well, there’s some interesting points to speak of as well, like the protagonist. You play as Major Nechaev, a KGB agent who also goes by his codename P-3- though interestingly enough, he’s also literally mentally unstable, which opens some interesting doors for the game’s story. Nechaev is sent by the KGB to investigate a facility that mass produced robots that has recently fallen completely silent. Things, as you may have guessed, have gone enormously wrong. Mutant and zombified humans are walking about the place, and deadly killer robots also seem to have sprung up and taken control. It falls to you to not only clean up the mess, but also find out what led to it in the first place.
Atomic Heart is clearly placing a great deal of emphasis on its story and its world, and by and large, it’s going to be a linear experience. It’ll tell the story that it wants to tell- but there will be one exception. Mundfish has confirmed that players will be presented with a moral choice towards the end of the game, leading to one of two possible endings. Speaking about the multiple endings, the developer wrote in an FAQ on the game’s official Discord: “Atomic Heart has a strict linear plot, and one should not expect incredible variability. We’ve put an important moral choice in the hands of the player closer to the finale, because we want to nudge the community to argue and discuss about the themes that we have laid out in the story. We want you to draw your own conclusions and make your own decision, not being influenced by forces from above.”
Enemy variety is clearly going to be one of the areas where Atomic Heart impresses the most, at least based on everything that we’ve seen of the game so far. Given its very premise, it goes without saying that players will be crossing paths with a variety of killer robots that’ll be sporting different designs with unique attributes. We’ve already seen quite a few in the game’s trailer, including a couple of massive bosses. Meanwhile, zombified and mutated organic foes are also going to have a role to play. On the whole, from their designs to what attacks they use to how they can be dealt with, it looks like there’s going to be plenty of variety on offer with Atomic Heart’s enemies.
Alongside its alternate history setting and intentionally bizarre aesthetic, Atomic Heart’s combat has been one of its most eye-catching elements in all of its showings thus far. Mundfish is billing it as a fast, frantic experience that places an emphasis on visceral action at a blazing pace. To that end, players are going to have plenty of ways to deal with the enemies in their path. We’ve seen several different weapons, from rifles to pistols to flamethrowers and more, while various melee weapons are going to be part of the equation as well. Meanwhile a power glove equipped on your left hand is also going to be an integral part of the combat, allowing players to lift enemies in the air, slam them down into the ground, or shoot out elemental attacks, from zapping foes with electricity to pouring out jets of water on them to freezing them and encasing them in layers of ice.
HACKING AND STEALTH
Even a cursory glance at Atomic Heart’s gameplay is enough to make it abundantly clear that this is a game that focuses on its high-octane action first and foremost, and while that certainly is the case, it’ll allow for some ancillary tactics every now and then as well. For instance, the developers have said that players will be able to hack into robots using multiple methods that’ll allow you to kill any alarms before they’re raised. How heavily this plays into the gameplay loop and how many different kinds of options players will have available on this front remains to be seen.
Atomic Heart is a first person shooter first and foremost, but it also employs some light RPG elements in the form of progression and upgrade mechanics. Every weapon in the game will have a unique upgrade path, which, as you may have guessed, will be gradually opened up using the resources that you find and gather in the game’s world. From cassette modules – which will essentially be mod slots – to being able to raise attributes such as damage, range, ergonomics, and more, weapons will be upgradeable in a number of ways.
Players are going to be able to really dive into Atomic Heart’s fascinating setting and learn more about its world, because it is, of course, going to be an open world experience. There’s plenty we don’t know about the open world itself, in terms of what we can expect from its size, the variety and design of its environments, and more. However, the developers have said that they’re going to focus more on immersion than size. Speaking in an interview with GamingBolt earlier this year, Mundfish said: “The open-world will not be as large as in some games like Assassin’s Creed, but we’re making it truly believable and immersive.”
Given its open world setting, how long can we expect Atomic Heart to be? By the looks of it, it’s going to be a pretty meaty experience, if not particularly massive. In an interview with GamingBolt earlier in 2022, Mundfish confirmed that the game will be roughly 20 hours long. Of course, it remains to be seen how how that is divided across the main story and optional content, but hopefully players will have plenty to do.
So when exactly is Atomic Heart coming out? Not too long now. It launch on February 21, 2023 for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Mundfish and Focus Entertainment have also confirmed that it will be available via Game Pass at launch.