Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Deathloop Preview – Assassinations With Style

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Arkane Studios
Platform: PlayStation 5, PC

As we detailed in our cover story a few months back, Deathloop is the story about a secret society that invents an eternal timeloop on a chilly, Northern European island called Blackreef. The catch is that most of the people caught in this cycle don’t have any memory of previous loops. Colt Vahn is the unfortunate hero who actually remembers everything that happens across these loops. And, if he wants to escape this torment, he must assassinate the eight leaders of the mysterious Aeon program. Time to get to work.

Colt has a variety of reality-warping powers, called Slabs, that should help him gain the upper hand during his adventure. One power, called Shift, allows Colt to teleport across short distances or swap places with enemies, putting them in the line of fire. Other powers make Colt temporarily invisible or allow him to assume someone else’s appearance, both of which come in handy while sneaking around Blackreef. Additionally, each power has four potential upgrades, two of which can be equipped at any given time. These upgrades stack on top of each other, meaning there are a lot of potential ways to mix and match Colt’s abilities. For example, Shift can be modified so it allows Colt to hover in mid-air, giving him extra time to pick a destination. 

When Colt dies, he loses all the weapons and powers he acquired during that loop. However, players don’t have to start each day off from square one. Throughout Colt’s journey, he'll also acquire a material called Residuum, and Colt can spend Residuum on his favorite weapons and powers, allowing him to retain those tools from one loop to the next. Residuum is a rare resource so players might have to think twice before they use it. 

Residuum pairs well with another system in the game called Reprise. During each loop, Colt has a handful of Reprises, which function a bit like extra lives. When Colt dies for the first time in a loop, time rewinds a few seconds and Colt can tackle that challenge again. However, when Colt uses a Reprise, he drops any of the Residuum he was carrying, and he’ll need to travel back to the place where he died and collect his valuables – a system similar to recovering your souls in games like Dark Souls. If Colt fails to retrieve his dropped Residuum, he’ll lose it permanently.

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We watched Colt make good use of some of his powers when he took on a mission to assassinate one of the ringleaders on Blackreef, Aleksis Dorsey. Aleksis is a wealthy aristocrat with loose morals who wants to be the life of the party. He owns a giant mansion in the Updaam region of Blackreef. Naturally, that’s where Colt picks up the trail.

Entering Aleksis mansion isn’t simple as the place is heavily guarded and Colt is Blackreef’s most wanted. Fortunately, any given problem has more than one solution, and Blackreef is littered with useful clues to point players in the right direction. In this case, Colt overhears a couple of Aleksis’ thugs talking about a secret entrance into the estate – a window overlooking a cliff. Before long, Colt is sneaking through Aleksis’ backrooms.

Colt knows that Aleksis likes to wear a wolf mask, which should make him easy to spot. Unfortunately, almost everyone at the party is wearing Aleksis’ mask, so Colt can’t tell the real Aleksis from the wannabes. Of course, Colt could go on a rampage and take down everyone in the house wearing that mask, which is a viable solution, but there might be an easier way.

During an earlier playthrough, on another part of the island, Colt discovered an audio recording where Aleksis detailed his plans to give a speech during his party. Armed with this knowledge, Colt just has to find the stage and wait for Aleksis to warm up the mic. Taking Aleksis out with a sniper rifle is another viable option here, but that would still draw attention, so Colt continues to explore the space and eventually discovers a button that opens a deadly trapdoor underneath the feet of anyone onstage. Aleksis must have installed it so that he could remove anyone preaching a message he didn’t like, but he probably never expected that he’d end up falling through the floor himself.

Ultimately, how you take down Aleksis is up to you, and you’ll only have to wait a few more months to make that discission. Deathloop is set to launch on the PlayStation 5 and PCs on September 14. For more on this game, be sure to check out our month-worth of cover story coverage by clicking on the banner below.

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