Most Gamescom appointments are about 30 to 45 minutes long, which isn't much time to judge if a game is going to be good or not. We wound up playing for almost 90 minutes in Germany, as the still-undated, Sega-published FPS Hyenas approaches another closed beta. Part of that was because our first round was plagued by technical difficulties. However, it was also because the developers clearly noticed we were having a lot of fun playing.
Heisting With A Crew
Hyenas, Creative Assembly's multiplayer heist game, is something akin to Payday with an injection of extraction and hero shooter concepts. This game is nowhere near as slow-paced as a Call of Duty: Warzone DMZ match, never mind the comparably glacial Escape From Tarkov. Instead of focusing on planning and stress, it's decidedly frenetic and fun. Think back to how Apex Legends caplitalized on PUBG's battle royale genre while upping the tempo and adding a sci-fi twist.
Each round sees five teams of three teleport onto a high security Plundership, where the 1% have hoarded earth’s last truly valuable commodity: Sonic statues and A-Ha CDs. These early 80s to late 90s treasures have been locked up in vaults as some of the last remnants of human culture after a cataclysmic event cracked the planet in two. Your team comprises three Hyenas, who are thieves with special skills. Some can focus on healing, one has a Prey-like foam gun for crowd control, and our favorite can defy gravity at a moment's notice.
These characters are all larger than life. We have a Nixon-mask-wearing Point Break reject, a ballerina uninterested in the laws of physics, and even a fabulous Drag Queen. While it's hard to say if these loud-mouthed, color characters will start to grate on you after a while, we did find that their attitude actually worked quite well when contrasted with the industrial design of the Plunderships they were raiding.
Zero-G, Zero Problems
The part of Hyenas that really stood out to us was just how good it felt to play and how polished the game seemed. This is the second year the game has been at Gamescom, and while it was shown behind closed doors with press unable to play it themselves in 2022, a lot of that presentation is still here. It just all looks a lot sharper and focused.
Guns have a satisfying kick-and-punchy sound to them, in a way you wouldn't expect the Total War studio to nail. While moving in the game/s main Zero-G areas is extremely intuitive and fun, the one design choice we weren’t a huge fan of was the team's choice to have the ships’ security spawn right in front of you, with a digitizing effect. It leads to situations where guards can load in behind you during an assault as you drill into a vault.
With all of that said, Hyenas feels like a good (maybe even great) game, and we left our appointment excited for the beta. We just don't know if it will be able to coax players away from established extraction games like Escape from Tarkov and Hunt: Showdown, or hero shooters like Overwatch 2 and Apex Legends. Hyenas is coming soon to PC and you can sign up for the beta right now.
These impressions are based on an on-site demo from Gamescom 2023. It may not be representative of the final product.