The wait for Atomic Heart has been long and winding, but after a tumultuous development cycle and its fair share of delays, Mundfish’s first person shooter is finally here. It is, as many may have predicted, a bit of a rough game, but with still enough working in its favour, it’s one that probably plenty of people are going to dive into in the coming days- especially given the fact that it’s also available via Game Pass. If you, too, are planning on giving Atomic Heart a go, make sure to keep these handy pointers in mind to make for a smoother experience in the early hours.
This is pretty much a rule of thumb in any game that allows you to scan, but it’s worth repeating here nonetheless, because scanning really can be quite an important part of the core loop in Atomic Heart. You get access to the ability to scan pretty early on in the game, and doing so highlights essentially anything and everything of interest in your vicinity, including loot, NPCs, objects that you can interact with, nearby enemies, and even puzzle solutions. As such, any time you enter a new room or environment, it’s a good idea to scan your surroundings for a handful of seconds to take stock of where you are and what could be useful around you. Meanwhile, in combat, scanning enemies also tells you what elemental damage types they’re weak or resistant too- and that’s information that you’re not going to get anywhere else, so if you come across a strong enemy, make sure to scan them.
Atomic Heart combines its first person shooting action with elemental attacks, and while you do get a variety of these abilities throughout the course of the game, you should hone in on one or two of them as your priorities pretty early on. The game itself is very much designed around that kind of a strategy- you can only equip two abilities at a time, and swapping out the ones you have equipped for new one isn’t something that you can do anywhere, at any time, which means experimentation isn’t exactly encouraged. Which abilities exactly should you focus on though? Well, that brings us to our next point…
Combat in Atomic Heart can be quite hectic, and more than a few times, you’ll find yourself being swarmed by scores upon scores of enemies. As such, crowd management should ideally be a central part of your strategy at all times- which, in turn, means that abilities that enable that are far more useful than the ones that don’t. Frostbite is perfect for that kind of an approach. As its name suggests, Frostbite allows you to shoot our streams of pure ice to temporarily freeze enemies in place and, once upgraded, deal damage during that short window as well. When you’re surrounded by particularly aggressive mobs, freezing enemies solid and being able to focus your attention on other targets can be quite useful.
Another ability that can come in incredibly handy in Atomic Heart is Polymeric Jet. Polymer is, of course, a big part of the Atomic Heart world, and really proves its worth with this ability. Using Polymeric Jet, you’re able to spray enemies with a Polymer goo, and once they’re coated with it, they effectively become double susceptible to any and all elemental damage types you hit them with next. As such, using it in conjunction with other abilities tends to be a great strategy. Use Polymeric Jet and follow it up with, say, a shock of electricity, and the latter will be more effective than it would be ordinarily.
ELECTRO AND DOMINATOR
Atomic Heart is a very, very action packed game, but in spite of its explosive action and frantic combat, it isn’t too liberal with how it hands out ammo. Though ammo isn’t supremely scarce, it’s not as common and freely found as you’d expect from most shooters, which means conserving bullets is usually a smart decision. That, incidentally, is exactly why certain weapons that don’t use ammunition and instead run on energy drawn from your suit are so useful. The Electro pistol is one of them, and even more devastating is the Dominator, which is a heavy pulse weapon. When you’re using energy-based weapons though, do remember to wait for them to charge back up in between combat encounters.
For the reasons we just talked about, energy is quite an important resource in Atomic Heart, and though it recharges over time, it’s still not exactly an infinite pool. So how exactly do you ensure that your energy meter runs out as infrequently as possible? Well, there’s a few ways to do that. For starters, you should definitely be prioritizing energy in your skill upgrades, given how much you’ll likely be relying on energy-based weapons. It’s also worth keeping in mind that you restore additional energy for every melee hit you land, so when you get the chance, get up close and personal with enemies and whack away.
Atomic Heart is far from a stealth-driven game, though it does have some stealth elements nonetheless- which, as you may have guessed, means having to get past security cameras every now and then to avoid alerting enemies and drawing them all to you. And though you may be tempted to just destroy them as soon as you see them, that’s actually something of a waste of time in this game. Why? Because as soon as you do that, enemy drones come flying in and start making repairs- and if you try and destroy those drones, more of them just keep on coming. It’s far better to come up with other ways to avoid cameras, such as using Shok on them to render them temporarily useless and running past them while they’re down.
One of Atomic Heart’s weirdest choices is that out in the open world, there isn’t much point to trying to take out all enemies that you come across. This isn’t necessarily the case in the dungeons, but in the open world, much like the aforementioned cameras, the enemy robots that you destroy more often than not end up getting repaired by drones- and yes, the drones are effectively endless waves, so there’s no point wasting your time, ammo, or energy on trying to take out all of them. It’s much better to just let go of your urge to take out every single enemy in sight and just be on your way to your next objective marker. Trust us, it’ll save you a whole lot of frustration.
Platforming isn’t necessarily Atomic Heart’s strong suit, but every so often, the game does sprinkle in some platforming and traversal challenges nonetheless. That, incidentally, can be a bit frustrating at times, because the game isn’t always great at conveying whether, say, a gap that you’re standing in front of can be jumped across or not. Even gaps that seem like they should be small enough to jump over can often lead to you plummeting to your death (or at least to you taking damage) every now and then. Thankfully, there is one easy tell that you can keep your eye out for- if your character reaches out with his hand while you’re standing in front of a gap, that means it’s a jumpable one.
Atomic Heart’s open world has several optional dungeons scattered about the place called Testing Grounds, and while some may be tempted to skip these as they make their way through the critical path, we’d recommend not doing that. Testing Grounds tend to hold some pretty useful loot, such as mods for your weapons (which can be very useful in tense combat situations), so our advice would be to take on all the Testing Grounds you can find.
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