First Look: The Amazing Eternals
In a burgeoning world of hero-based shooters, Warframe developers Digital Extremes are hoping to carve out a special niche for their own entry to the arena with The Amazing Eternals.
A pastiche of pulp comics and retrofuturism, The Amazing Eternals combines concepts of board games, collectible card games, and hero/class based shooters to create an unusual new IP that has a lot of potential.
Cold and Gold
Similar to the likes of Jumanji, The Amazing Eternals has the premise where playing a dusty old boardgame pulls you into a world in which pulp fiction monsters, heroes and adventurers battle endlessly. On a base level, the game works a standard hero/class-based first-person shooter, with typical objective modes such as area capture and team deathmatch. Common character archetypes are available to play as, such as slow but strong melee tanks, jack of all trades run and gunners, and highly mobile healers, with the ability to swap character on respawn at any time.
Where The Amazing Eternals most stands out, however, is its love-it-or-hate-it use of decks made up of collectible cards. While each character has their own standard weapon and special abilities, you’ll able to assemble decks that will grant an array of boons such as temporary stat boosts or weapon buffs, match-long upgrades to abilities, as well as powerful, limited ammunition weapons.
Cards are very much the defining factor of The Amazing Eternals, being both its main progression system and character loadout. You’ll receive a standard starter deck for each character, and collect new single cards or booster packs after playing matches. As with standard CCGs, you’re not guaranteed which cards you’ll get or who for, though there’s an in-game store for those willing to drop some cash for instant gain. Decks are made up of twelve cards, and crafting a strong, versatile deck becomes a lot of fun once you start collecting some of the more interesting and unusual weapons and power-ups.
Weapon cards are certainly the most important cards to work towards acquiring and utilising; swapping your regular pistol or bow out for a long-range assault rifle, rocket launcher or sniper rifle swings engagements to your favor and helps set up firefights on your own terms. In matches, your deck will be drawn from one card at a time, each card having a unique timer between being drawn and being usable; once a card’s timer is up and the card becomes accessible, the next card in the deck is drawn and its timer begins. Each card has different timers, with the more powerful ones taking more time to ready.
This leads to some interesting deck composition thoughts, as frontloading a deck with powerful weapons and abilities means long waits with no upgrades and just your base weapon until those cards are available. Cards also have special mini-missions where the timer can be reduced by doing a specific task, such as dealing damage, getting a double kill, or healing another player.
Each character has unique cards to be collected and used — barring class-based cards, characters can only use their own cards, which does make collecting strong decks for multiple characters a little tricky. Nonetheless, the grind isn’t overwhelming and mostly relies on the RNG gods favoring you; there’s no paywall, and card collection is currently fast enough that the divide between free players and those throwing money at the game is surprisingly small.
Indeed, this’ll be the make-or-break factor for the game: keeping the game balanced enough to be competitive. Highly skilled players shouldn’t be losing to weaker players who happen to have a stronger deck, otherwise the integrity of any competitive scene The Amazing Eternals hopes for would be dashed. Thankfully, this seems to be the case so far, with notable strong players dominating matches as expected even when using niche or “silly” decks against more inexperienced players who happen to have plenty of fancy cards.
The nature of the card system does currently lend to various problems which we hope are addressed soon. Loading into an ongoing match is problematic, with other players already able to have cycled through various upgrades and equipped weapons from their decks while yours is just getting started, meaning you’ll be behind the power curve. Also, unlike other hero-based FPS titles including goliath Overwatch — where character swapping is integral to counterplay — swapping character mid-match in The Amazing Eternals gimps your new pick as you’ll be starting over with a clean deck and no power-ups.
The game is currently in early closed beta, though it feels more like alpha testing; progression and card mechanics are still undergoing major changes, and some systems such as kill cams are still very buggy and are yet to be fully implemented. If you dive into The Amazing Eternals with the assumption that beta is just a code word for “early free demo”, you’ll be in for a shock. Jumping into the game this early means putting up with plenty of rough edges and issues, but you’ll get to be part of the community at the start, and your feedback can help shape the game into a fantastic title.