Veiled experts preview impressions: "Frightfully ambitious"
If gamers are looking for a round-based team shooter in 2023, they're spoiled for choice. While VALORANT has the twitch-shooter crowd covered, games like Rainbow Six Siege, Overwatch, and Call of Duty each bring their own unique twists to the genre. Veiled Experts is the latest development from Nexon Games and, while it may come across as a little unfocused, the sheer number of ideas contained within make it one to watch.
Veiled experts has clear inspirations
At its core, Veiled Experts is a round-based team shooter that utilises a roster of Agents, each with unique abilities. Team Deathmatch and Casual modes are present, but it's the classic Search and Destroy competitive mode that's the main draw. Here, teams work to plant an explosive device at one of two sites while fending off the enemy team. Of course, there are no respawns until the round restarts.
If this sounds awfully familiar, that's because it is. Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, VALORANT, and Rainbow Six Siege have had the genre on lock for over a decade at this point. However, Veiled Experts has a few tricks up its sleeve to differentiate itself from the crowd.
Firstly, you'll be hard-pressed to miss that Veiled Experts uses a third-person camera. Akin to Fortnite, this means that you can peek corners without exposing yourself to danger, and it also opens up more traversal opportunities. Movement throughout the maps feels fluid as you vault, climb, and roll your way through cover options.
On top of that, Nexon has borrowed a popular Battle Royale mechanic and translated it to a smaller scale. As matches progress, an electromagnetic field forces players in certain directions, slowly pushing them together. If you've ever gotten frustrated at enemy campers, then you'll surely appreciate this feature. However, in competitive matches where like-minded players were striving to eliminate each other, we rarely found the encircling ring to be impactful.
The Battlefield series has also had a clear impact on the inspiration for Veiled Experts. Not only is there a small amount of destruction in the environments, but large-scale weather events can randomly occur during matches. On a desert map that we played during our playtest, a huge sandstorm rolled in numerous times that drastically reduced our visibility. Ultimately, this gave the attacking team some helpful cover to sneak up on us, and we had to rely on our aiming skills to get the better of them.
Built for competitive
Speaking of shooting, Veiled Experts has a wide assortment of weapons and utility that is accessed via an economy system. Players earn currency by winning rounds and earning eliminations - this can then be spent on new weapons, attachments, grenades, or even wackier upgrades like a Juggernaut suit.
As Veiled Experts is a team shooter, Nexon has added the option to pour funds into Team Upgrades. These are collective pools that can be levelled up to increase things like your weapon handling stats or the amount of armour you can equip at the start of a round. It's a neat feature that encourages team coordination and input more so than other shooters with an in-game economy.
Competitive play has clearly been at the forefront of Nexon's mind while creating Veiled Experts. A particular feature that I'd love to see in plenty of other games is a detailed end-of-round replay screen. After every round, an enlarged mini-map shows a sped-up replay of the match from a bird's eye view. Here, it's possible to see which routes every player took through the map, which is incredibly helpful to understand enemy tactics and improve your subsequent gameplay.
Flying too close to the sun?
While Veiled Experts has an impressive amount of inspired mechanics that set it apart from the crowd, that's ultimately also its downfall. It certainly feels like all of these ideas have been thrown at the wall to see what sticks. Although there are some genuinely great additions here, a lot of them either feel undercooked or a little pointless.
I've already mentioned the example of the Battle Royale ring not having all that much impact on match-to-match gameplay. Another example would be the level of destruction that resets after teams swap sides. While this makes sense, the economy doesn't reset to match, meaning weapons and funds carry over. If one team is winning by a huge margin, this ends up leading to a landslide victory as the enemy team isn't given a fair shot at playing from the opposing side.
The Agents that you can choose from all differ visually and have their own unique traits, but it was difficult to feel much differentiation between them all during gameplay. This may be something that becomes more apparent through extended gameplay. However, for the team roster to not immediately stand out in a game that's touted as a character shooter is certainly frustrating.
There are some valid concerns to be had about whether Veiled Experts has what it takes to rock the throne that VALORANT and Rainbow Six Siege have held for a long time. However, with a little bit more polish and more thought poured into its frightfully ambitious collection of mechanics, Veiled Experts is certainly Nexon's best shot at doing so.
Veiled Experts is set to launch later in 2023 for PC.