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Microsoft showed a brief trailer for their new IP, ReCore, at last year’s E3, but details about the game were scarce. This year I went behind closed doors with the developers and I discovered that this isn’t your average action shooter. “Why is that” you may ask? Well, in addition to placing a heavy emphasis on shooting, this game also focuses on platforming, puzzle-solving, and befriending mechanical buddies.
ReCore takes place far in the future after a mysterious calamity has made planet Earth nearly uninhabitable. The last remaining humans begin terraforming a new planet called Far Eden. When the game begins, a human worker named Joule awakens from her cryo-sleep to discover that the rest of the people working to terraform the planet have all gone missing and the numerous robots have become threatening to herself and functioning robots. Both Joule and her robotic companion, Mac, set out to find the missing workers and return them to their duties, but in the process Jewel will discover many surprising truths.
Far Eden is a gigantic desert planet covered in sand with gigantic rocks jutting out of the ground. Some of these rocks are large enough to contain a deep cave system that goes beneath the ground. Many of these caves are filled with mechanical objects left by the terraformers, which creates a cool dichotomy between nature and technology. Unfortunately, the planet is also now covered with a wide variety of both working and malfunctioning robots. Some of them fly around performing their duties while others, like large spider-bots, attack Jewel on site.
Since Joule is a worker, she’s equipped with an exoskeleton that allows her to navigate around the world very easily. This mechanical aid gives her a cool dash ability that can be used both on the ground and in the air. She also has double-jump, and combining these two abilities opens up a wide array of combinations that can be used both in and out of combat. They especially become useful in the numerous extreme platforming areas where players have to figure out how to get from A to B. These are called “traversal-based puzzles, and they incorporate wall running as well as dashing and double-jumping.
Joule also has a tool called the Extractor that shoots a metal rope out of her arm to activate doors and extract cores from enemies. Extracting cores plays an important part in the game as they can be used to power up robots and other technological devices. Since players have the option to extract cores from malfunctioning robots instead of killing them, they have to pay attention to what cores they’ll need and also plan ahead for unexpected core requirements.
Players begin their futuristic adventure with a pulse rifle that also has a powerful charge shot. Since ReCore is about much more than shooting, the developers decided to add auto-aim to combat. This feature lets Jewel dash around enemies and use her abilities while also pelting them with gunfire. I found combat to be both thrilling and action-packed as Joule performed a nimble dance of death around enemies while also dodging attacks and ordering her robo-pet to engage the enemy.
This game adds an unusual twist to shooting by incorporating a cool color-matching mechanic where switching weapons to the same color as the enemy will automatically inflict double damage. Four different colors are assigned to the four directions of the D-pad, so switching colors in and out of combat is quick and easy. In addition, each of Jewel’s robotic companions also has a certain color to their core, so ordering them to attack enemies of the same color will also inflict double damage.
Speaking of robo-buddies, Joule begins her adventure with Mac the robo-dog, who can be ordered to attack and also to locate and dig up buried items. She eventually discovers Seth the mechanical spider-creature, and Duncan, who resembles a mechanical gorilla and will launch furious melee attacks on command. These are but a few of the handy robotic companions that Jewel will discover throughout the game. They’re called in and out by the simple tap of a button, and if properly timed, this can even inflict damage to an enemy if the incoming pet lands on it.
As you can tell from the images and my description, ReCore promises to take action shooting to new levels with action platforming, puzzle-solving, core collecting, and companion control. The art design is reminiscent of Star Wars with a dash of novelty.
ReCore launches on Xbox One on September 13 with a surprisingly low price of $39.99.