The First Descendant preview: Looter-shooter meets gacha game collector
In recent years, we have seen plenty of games come and go while chasing trends. So much so that our vocabulary to describe them usually revolves around saying "It's like X crossed with Y" or writing games off as a clone of something else.
The First Descendant is a game many probably saw as yet another loot shooter, another live service game, a game that can be simply, if reductively, summarised as "it's like Warframe crossed with Genshin Impact". While it is true that much of what makes up this game are parts we have seen before, what is done with those parts is what really matters - and The First Descendant may just surprise you.
- Get all the details on The First Descendant with our handy guide
The First Descendant is a third-person co-op shooter where players, rather than creating a character and building them, collect and play as pre-created characters with bespoke abilities. The game is a blend of sci-fi and fantasy, which translates to the gameplay.
Your offence combines fast, frenetic gunplay with supernatural abilities. Of the three starting characters, Viessa has ice powers that can freeze and damage enemies, Lepic focuses on explosives and area damage, and Ajax is a more defensive character.
These are just three of the dozen or so Descendants that have been revealed so far, with more likely on the way. I would not expect to see the number of characters you would expect in Genshin Impact or Honkai Star Rail, at least not for a long time.
The First Descendant is an Unreal Engine 5 game, with a heavy emphasis on graphical quality. This really shows; as the locations of the game are stunning to look at.
Being a next-generation game is a stated focus, and it is apparent in the world around you. What surprised me more than anything was that the extremely high fidelity of the graphics didn't seem to slow the game down one bit.
This is a mileage-may-vary situation as we are not all playing on the same hardware, but even still I found that the game ran remarkably well.
- If you want to try the game for yourself, here is how to sign up for The First Descendant open beta
Overall the game gives a strong positive first impression. The gameplay is solid, it looks fantastic, and there is a lot of potential in the design. The biggest downside so far seems to be with the character designs.
While not a massive issue, the Descendants themselves can feel a bit generic and bland. Of the Descendants that appeared in the preview, Bunny was the only one that really stood out, and that was largely because she was a lady with bunny ears on her helmet.
Generic characters are a letdown, but not a deal breaker. The only truly egregious issue I encountered was very specific, and hopefully, something that will be changed. The characters have voice lines for many of their actions, specifically when you are reloading.
One of the initial characters, Viessa, seemed very upset about having to reload her weapon, shouting "why now?" and "so annoying" almost every time I hit the reload button. Again, not a game-ruining issue, but certainly not something you want to be dealing with over dozens of hours of play.
The potential for The First Descendant in today's gaming market is apparent. Many games have succeeded in recent years using elements that are at the forefront of this game. On the gameplay and graphics front, TFD seems to have things locked down. If the intention is to draw in the Genshin crowd with collectable characters, I'm not sure fans are likely to get as excited about these designs.
Still, I had a blast during my time with The First Descendant, and I think it has more than enough initial positives to make it worth checking out when the game does launch as a free-to-play game sometime in the near future.