Making a new friend can be tough and losing can be even rougher, but I suppose if a supposed “friend” and I were locked in a battle to death, better them than me, right? That’s sort of the concept behind developer Brainwash Gang and publisher Raw Fury’s upcoming release Friends vs Friends. It’s a 1v1 or 2v2 arena FPS that spices things up with a fun and intuitive deck building mechanic. I went hands-on with an early PC build during GDC 2023 to see if I could make some new pals.
The concept of Friends vs Friends is straightforward enough. Players will most likely want to start by putting their deck together since it will have a major impact on your strategy. At the start of each match, five cards are drawn from the deck for the player to use.
Cards can be a variety of things. Various weapons like better guns or a katana. You could end up with support items like turrets. Perhaps you’ll get some character buffs that do things like raise your health or make you a massive nigh-unstoppable giant. Or maybe you’ll get cards that can curse your enemies with nerfs that can do things like slow them down or make their brains float above their heads for an easy kill shot. You’ll get a few new cards after each round, but players will definitely be strategizing and saving some of those better cards for dire moments.
Fights take place in small arenas like rooftops or subway platforms. There are a few environmental hazards, like you can easily fall off a rooftop or get run over by a train trying to cross to the next platform. If you can manage to out-kill your friends and get three wins before them, you’ll take home the victory. The whole experience is fast-paced and you really don’t have that much time to feel bitter about losing a match or revel in winning before it’s time to throw down again.
Visually, everything has a pixelated cartoonish vibe to it. The anthropomorphic animal characters you can play as really drive home that Looney Tunes vibe while the hyper-violent nature reminds me a bit of Hotline Miami. Ducks, bears, moose, and lizards are just a few of the furry fiends on the roster that players will be able to throw down with.
Overall, I found my demo of Friends vs Friends to be an enjoyable and quick treat. The game feels easy to pick up and play and has just enough strategy RNG thanks to the card system to keep every match exhilarating. It definitely left me wanting to get more in-depth time with it to strategize my deck building and blast more buddies into oblivion. Friends vs Friends is definitely a title fans of FPS arena shooters should keep an eye out for.
This preview is based on hands-on time with a PC build of Friends vs Friends at GDC 2023. The game is set to launch some time in 2023 for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S.