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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Here’s a closer look at Biomutant’s bonkers customization and dangerous world

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VIDEO: ‘A closer look at Biomutant’ is also available on YouTube

Even though it’s out May 25, we still haven’t played Biomutant. But during a short preview event we did get a closer look at some of its wild customization options, RPG systems, and learned how we’ll explore the dangerous biomes in its massive open world. Biomutant looks rad, but it always has in its rare, piecemeal trailers over the last few years. We’ve still yet to see how everything comes together and feels in the hands, which is a bit concerning a few weeks from release. 

One thing is clear: as long as Biomutant is baseline functional, stat tinkerers are going to dig it. From the character creation to weapon and armor customization systems, Biomutant is leaning heavily into letting you screw with how everything looks and works, while directly integrating the style with substance.

For instance, your stats determine what your character looks like. Spec out a tough guy and your mutant will have adorable tiny-big shoulders. And as you play and change those stats, so too will your little guy. To ensure no two mutants look exactly alike, you can also reseed your DNA strands, which apparently change to what degree stats affect your physiology, some subtle tweaking of the levers and pulleys that inflate your furry little role-playing animal balloon. 

Your mutant’s look will probably change significantly, too. Classes aren’t fixed, they’re just starting loadouts. All skills and loot can be unlocked or found and equipped by any character. I’d have more feelings about the open approach if I could play Biomutant myself or comprehend the combat, at all. The action looks wild, but noisy, and it’s difficult to tell what makes each character build distinct besides the gear they’re using. 

From what I can tell it looks like a jittery Devil May Cry, a combination of combo-based melee combat and gun peppering with some pretty basic elemental strengths and weaknesses layered in. I love the variety in enemy design and I’m intrigued that I can’t parse what the hell’s happening moment to moment, but I’m also worried that it’s not interesting or varied enough to hold up across an entire open world game. 

Will gear and stats and enemy design fundamentally change how combat feels throughout Biomutant, or will it just move around some variables behind the glass? I really hope all that customization isn’t just superficial. Let me try it already, is what I’m saying. 

Elemental resistances matter a lot in exploration, at least. Progression in Biomutant is largely tied to how long you can survive in its more dangerous environments, each radiating with their own deadly energies. Besides the innate resistance you bake into your character from the start, you’ll need to seek out gear with resistances to enable travel in every biome to get even better gear and to defeat bosses. 

Don’t let your limitations stop you, though. You can go anywhere in the world after about 30 minutes, even radiated zones, though you won’t survive long. But you might survive long enough to get in and out with some higher level loot. I’m into that kind of risky incentive. 

Loot is as customizable as anything else, to a comical degree. You can make melee weapons out of just about any material, though it’s unclear how you find all this junk. You can make dozens of variations of a hammer or club—whatever you’d categorize a safe door as—with handles ranging from a carrot, to a phone, to a walking stick. 

Each component comes with stats, too, associated with whatever material they’re made of—sometimes very loosely associated. I suppose metal is frigid to the touch, and that’s enough to imbue this thing with some freezing damage. 

Guns are volatile little Lego sets you build out between six component slots, including scopes, magazines, barrels, stocks, and so on. It all sounds lovely, and I’m big on the idea of building out weapons with odd behaviors, looks, and stats, but we still don’t know the breadth here. That near infinite variation is enticing, and you know I’m going to make the most clownish looking gun ever conceived, but how much of that variation is meaningful? How much will genuinely change how a weapon behaves? 

I also don’t get the sense that story is a big priority here, though I’m really hoping for some subtle, cohesive worldbuilding baked into the exploration. I have to have a reason for adventuring besides pretty colors, and I haven’t seen much of a hook in what Biomutant’s showed quite yet. The narration is cute, translating mutant gibberish with a storybook British accent. And I love the odd character designs, particularly Sol, who I feel a deep spiritual connection with already. That little crown! 

But for all its surface level vibrance and charm, Biomutant still feels like a big mystery a few weeks from release. I see nothing but grand ideas in its lovely vistas, bizarre creatures, and deep customization systems. Let’s just hope there’s some meat on its colorful bones. 

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