PvE survival game Icarus: First Cohort was developed by RocketWerkz, a studio founded by DayZ creator Dean Hall. Instead of trying to survive a zombie apocalypse in DayZ, your goal in Icarus is to explore an alien planet, gather resources, and make your way to the safety of your dropship before time runs out. Everything you own is at risk if you don’t survive.
Upon hearing of this, my first reaction was, “Crikey”. Wow, that’s a lot of pressure. Icarus, on the other hand, is a lot gentler than it appears. Quite the contrary. I mean, I had plenty of time to attempt to make some bread, becoming the first person in Icarus to do so. Unfortunately, I failed, but to be fair, the feature hasn’t yet gone live.
Icarus, which was first revealed at E3 last year, made an appearance at this year’s PC Gaming Show. On August 11th, it will be released in Chapters via Steam. The planet I sampled in about three hours of hands-on time appears to be the first.
I reported directly to Dean Hall, who was a patient guide throughout the process. The bread attempt was not an isolated case of a last-minute detour. Because I was constantly distracted, it took us at least an hour to get to the planet’s poles.
And that’s exactly what Icarus excels at. Soon after, I felt at home in its world and began gathering resources to craft weapons like bows, armour, and knives that I could use to defend myself (but sadly, not a succulent golden loaf). Even so, aside from my time in Valheim, I had no prior experience playing survival games, so I was pleasantly surprised by how well I adjusted to my new role as a space explorer in a bad situation.
An intuitive levelling system simplified each step, allowing you to do things like smack trees with your fist to earn experience points and skill points that you could then put into one of several neatly organised trees of things you can make. Starting with a stone pickaxe, these tools progress to more complex ones like ghillie suits and vehicles.
In terms of gameplay, Icarus has a lot to offer, but it’s also extremely accessible. With each tile, the building is a breeze. I like the fact that I can skin animals for leather and that my yield increased after I upgraded my knife, reducing the hassle of hunting. Moreover, the sounds are excellent, and I can guarantee that you won’t hear a better axe-wood thunk in video games.
Additional points can be allocated to various skill trees, such as the one for Bows and Blades. Everything is still very much a work in progress, but Hall stressed that they want it to have a Skyrim-like aesthetic.
Combat in Icarus already has that floaty, slashy feel to it. Fights at close range aren’t going to have much weight or impact. However, my time with the bow was a lot of fun. As a result of its separation from the melee jank, it had a cool Sniper Warrior thing were landing a killing blow at long range would trigger an interesting camera change, like I had a GoPro attached to my archery.
To Hall, the future of Talents should be more about having fun than it is about linearly gaining stats. Arrows that can be fired multiple times at the same time, or a hyper-arrow that can travel great distances are just some examples. My hopes are high that they’ll replace percentage bumps with powerful, one-of-a-kind abilities.
In terms of mythology, I’m not sure how unique Icarus is. “PvE session-based survival game” is a well-known term, but I’m not sure how much of an impact it had on my experience. Icarus is significant because it serves as a “platform.” A wide range of challenges awaits you.
Depending on the situation, the time limit may be shorter or the environment more difficult. But each time you have to gather resources, survive, and get out. As opposed to spending eternity in a single world, you’ll take on a variety of missions and control the intensity of the task at hand one session at a time.
Icarus aspires to be a survival game that doesn’t lock you in a specific location. It’s not about conquering a single planet here, but rather becoming an all-powerful space pirate by stealing from a few others. It’s exhilarating to consider the possibilities of a never-ending supply of new planets. Eventually, you may be able to plunder the entire universe.
As it stands, it has the potential to be a useful tool. However, I didn’t get to see what happens when you return to base with your resources or check out the other missions. When it comes to the platform, I’m unable to see it in action apart from my idealised vision of how it should work.
According to what I’ve heard, there will be downloadable content (DLC) called “Chapters” that will introduce new biomes. It was a beautiful world, with lush forests and vast caverns, but it didn’t feel in any way wild or foreign to Hall and me. It was a day of goat and deer hunting for me.
Gathering ferns and chopping wood with an axe, I spent my time outside. Hall and I worked together to mine rocks and build stone houses. Everything was very… Earthy. There will be no purple tendrils or rainbow-coloured spores to inhale. A gloopy sea or a goblin with a hammer can’t exist.
I enjoyed the laid-back nature of the game, but at times I was reminded that it was a matter of life and death. I didn’t feel pressured by a ticking clock to return my haul to base in time. To be fair, this might appeal to those who prefer a more relaxed gaming experience, but for me, it undermined the game’s central thesis.
Finally reaching the polar bear-infested wasteland known as the ice biome, Hall and I had an increased appreciation for the full potential of Icarus.
As a result, we were forced to create homemade fur armour as a means of staying warm. For the sake of hydration, all ice found on the floor was melted. We were forced to come up with creative solutions to our problems to survive.
We got caught in a blizzard as we hiked deeper into the snow and scrambled to find a haven. In the absence of caves, we made our way under an enormous snowy overhang that had been blown up by the wind.
Although the cold was brutal, we huddled together and managed to stay alive. We barely scraped by thanks to this split-second decision, which was truly thrilling. The game’s vision had finally become apparent to me!
As I tried to bake bread, I know Icarus needs more time in the oven. As far as I’m concerned, I hope that future planets will feel like a slightly more dangerous New Zealand. It also needs to be more explicit about the session-based model, in my opinion. In contrast to what you’d expect, it isn’t an all-out frenzy. It’s also possible to make it a constant race to the finish line.