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Shadowgun Legends preview – Hands-on with mobile’s answer to Destiny

Shadowgun Legends has been in soft launch in the Netherlands for a few days now, marking Madfinger’s long-anticipated return to a shooter franchise that has lain dormant for five years.

This time the developer has attempted to make what can only be described as a mobile Destiny. This is a sci-fi FPS with a social hub world that incorporates both a hefty single player campaign and multiplayer scrapping.

So, how’s this exciting project shaping up? I’ve spent a few hours with the soft launched version to try and find out.

Royal rumble

There have been plenty of mobile first person shooters with intense single player campaigns, and plenty with competitive multiplayer components.

Some have even tried to bundle both of those things in together. But it’s rare to find a mobile game that integrates the two like Shadowgun Legends. The mix feels decidedly console-like.

You start off playing through a fairly run of the mill series of missions that see you running and gunning against dozens of alien grunts.

There’s little you haven’t seen here before – go here, flip this switch, hold off enemy attacks in this room – but it’s all executed with the high level of technical skill we’ve come to expect from the maker of Unkilled and Dead Trigger 2.

MMOFPS

The way in which you obtain these missions is a little different, however. There’s a small but detailed hub world populated by NPCs and shops, and you’ll also encounter fellow players wandering around.

What’s particularly neat here is the way players with a high level of ‘fame’ – a currency you earn through completing missions – get announced like they’re superstars as they enter and exit the game.

All in all, this hub section makes Shadowgun Legends feel a lot more like an MMORPG than a traditional FPS. Or, in other words, it feels a bit like Destiny.

Of course, Destiny is predominantly a multiplayer game. Here, you’ll have to play a bunch of single player missions and reach level four to even start to unlock the multiplayer content. Even at this point, it’ll only be 1v1 duels, with 4v4 team matches arriving at level 6.

At this early point it feels like you have to jump through way too many hoops before you can shoot another real player in the face. It worked out to a good couple of hours for me, which is way too long.

Once I did join my first deathmatch, the action was much improved – if not quite the home run I was hoping for.

Oh shoot

Whether you’re playing in single or multiplayer, the gunplay in Shadowgun Legends is reasonably accomplished – depending on how you choose to fight.

If you’re using an autorifle, submachine gun, or shotgun, then cutting through the alien hordes is quite gratifying. An autoshoot system ensures that you can concentrate on aiming, while a double-tap will cause you to look down the sights for more precise headshots.

However, I found myself struggling with the woolly controls for the sniper rifle secondary weapon. Here you need to manually hit a button to shoot, which I found to consistently get in the way of an imprecise aiming system.

It was very tricky to land a shot quickly under pressure – which you’ll need to do given the sheer number of enemy assailants on each mission.

To me it would be preferable to go with Guns of Boom‘s sniping system, which asks you to keep your target in your sights for a second or two before autofiring.

Shadow of a doubt

My initial impression of Shadowgun Legends is of a game that’s easy to admire but a little tough to warm to.

Whether it’s the unappealing future-bro-sports universe, the slightly cold and removed feel of the combat, or the repetitive hoop-jumping of the early missions I’m not sure.

What should be emphasised here is that this is an ambitious game that will need tens of hours of play before we can assess its true merits.

Keep in mind, too, that this isn’t the final build of the game, so there’s ample time for Madfinger to tighten and tweak things – and to hopefully give us that multiplayer content a little earlier.