Drawing upon the power of cute cats, Nyan Heroes is an upcoming free-to-play battle royale that aims to deliver a premium experience using Unreal Engine 5. It plops lovable anthropomorphic felines with cartoonishly large heads into giant mechs that look like the Evas from Evangelion or super-sized versions of Samus’s suit from the Metroid series. Developer Rude Robot Studios showed off a short presentation and a hands-off demo of the game that’s extremely early in development behind closed doors at GDC 2023. While Nyan Heroes controversially includes NFTs and blockchain technology, the developer promises that players don’t need to interact with them at all if they don’t want to.
After the cat-astrophe
For clarity, when I say that the build I saw was in early development, I mean that it was pretty much a prototype. Some buildings were still basic rectangles without any textures. (The gameplay reveal trailer posted above is more in line with what the developers are aiming for.) But the point of the demo was to highlight the movement of the mechs, giving them cat-like reflexes and abilities. They can climb up vertical walls in a flash, dash sideways by digging their claws into panels held by a crane, and leap from building to building without a hitch. I suppose logically the cats could have made mech suits that weren’t like themselves, but where’s the fun in that?
As for the overarching story, the world of Nekovia ("neko" means cat in Japanese) was destroyed by a cataclysmic meteor shower that spawned strange monsters on the surface world. I was told to think of it like the evil creatures that appear during the Blood Moon in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This causes the race of cats, called Nyans, to be driven underground where they form the bustling city of New Nekovia. Being hunter-scientists, the Nyans didn’t have the power to fight back when the monsters besieged them, but they have since put their tech skills to use by designing mechs that regularly compete against one another in the Battledome stadium. Hopefully in time, the Nyan will be able to bring the martial skills they have learned in the ring to reclaiming their world.
Are the NFTs a faux-paw?
From a top-level, Nyan Heroes is shooting to make a solid battle royale that is similar to Apex Legends. Its core deathmatch mode will feature 60 players in 20 teams of three, with players being able to choose among nine Guardian classes, like Assassin, Warrior, Medic, and Scout. To ensure that players don’t sit around and camp, the game will award experience points for exploration and combat, whether by looting chests or killing enemies with well-aimed shots. Players will be placed into ranking tiers based on the overall power of their customizable mech and their skill. There will also be an ability to extract loot from a match into your account and create a custom chest that has a chance of appearing in a game.
If you’re interested in the NFT elements of Nyan Heroes, the developers will provide tools for users to create their own digital collectibles. One tool I was shown allows players to make their own skins and then sell their creations through the in-game marketplace. Rude Robot Studios promises to provide secure peer-to-peer transactions without requiring players to have a crypto wallet and with data transfers tracked by the ledger on a Solana blockchain. It’s unclear to what extent this tokenized economy will impact players who don’t particularly care for NFTs, but the developers say that they want it to be minimal.
Nyan Heroes is slated to launch on PC with an alpha build in late 2023 and a beta period in 2024.
This preview is based on a presentation and a hands-off PC demo in early development shown by the developer at GDC 2023.