Steelrising Preview: Gameplay Hands-On Impressions – On top of the upcoming GreedFall 2: The Dying World, developer Spiders has been mighty busy creating a Soulslike Action RPG, which I was fortunate enough to try. In this Steelrising Preview: Gameplay Hands-On Impressions, we will go in deep as we explore the chaotic alternate history of Paris in the 1700s where the French Revolution has been seemingly quelled, albeit in a more vicious and possibly, bloody way. The game is published by Nacon, who helped bring GreedFall to life. It will be released on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S on September 8, 2022.
Steelrising Preview: Gameplay Hands-On Impressions
- Name: Steelrising
- Platforms: PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
- Developer: Spiders
- Publisher: Nacon
- Release Date: September 8, 2022
- Genre: Fantasy Soulslike Action RPG
Steelrising Preview – Story and Exploration
Steelrising is a Soulslike Action RPG set in Paris in 1789 during the French Revolution when the monarchy lost the respect of the people. We are immediately introduced to the Queen, Marie-Antoinette, who was sent away by King Louis XVI in an attempt to keep her safe. Since then, she has not received any news regarding the whereabouts of her husband and children. To make matters worse, the king’s Automats or Mechanical Army have run rampant, killing anyone in plain sight. At the behest of Marie-Antoinette’s closest friend, Gabrielle has suggested making use of one of her most benevolent and loyal machines.
So this is where you come in. You play as the intelligent and ever so combat-ready Aegis who is tasked to serve as the eyes and ears of the Queen. Your main objective is to put a stop to the King’s madness and unending thirst for war and force by finding out how the Mechanical Army can be controlled, all while investigating the death of her son. It remains to be seen whether or not your choices will make a lasting impact on the war, as is the case in GreedFall. In addition to main and side quests, you will come across Notes scattered around Paris as you piece together the bloodshed that has gripped the nation while instilling fear.
Exploration-wise, Steelrising will have you traverse the entire city as you encounter similar yet hostile Automats. What makes the experience worthwhile is the verticality involved such that you can jump above walls and across platforms and rooftops to get to your next destination. In doing so, however, you will need to figure out where to go next since the map in your possession is not interactive. This means that you cannot track your course. You will need to find out the best routes to take because exploration is not linear. As such, you must discover secrets and revisit areas to check if you now have access to them.
You can also rely on your compass, which gives you an estimate of how far away you are from your destination. And finally, there seems to be a fast travel option, which I assume could bring you from one point of interest to the next, when you ride the Horseless Carriage. Although, I was not able to test this out since the pre-release version ended by before its unlocking.
Steelrising Preview – Gameplay Features
Steelrising resembles qualities that essentially make it a Soulslike title, on top of the challenging combat. You have your standard rest points, otherwise known as the Vestal, that can be found in random places. Activating it will not only fully restore your HP but also reanimate the machines you have already slain. To enhance your character, you will need to spend a fair amount of Anima Essence, which is the primary currency in the game. Upon death, you will respawn in the Vestal. You should then revisit your place of death to gather the Anima you have dropped as a result.
To acquire this resource, you will have to kill enemies and pick up blue-like flames scattered across the land. Once you have enough Anima, you can improve your Attributes, Modules or Perks, and Weapons as well as purchase consumables from the Boutique. The game will have you explore and uncover narrative points, defeat hostile Automats, and improve your character further.
Steelrising Preview – Character Creation and Classes
In Steelrising, you can customize Aegis based on the type of material, wig, and face you wish to see on her. It is pretty basic without the option to specifically tweak what your character will look like. However, I am hoping that it will not continue to stay this way when the game launches in the Fall since it would be cool to have numerous choices to make Aegis pop out even more from the rest of the Mechanical Army.
After Character Creation, you will be able to choose from a default list of 4 Classes, specifically the Bodyguard, Soldier, Dancer, and Alchemist. Depending on the playstyle you wish to employ, you receive specific consumables and enhancements from the get-go. Let us go through them one by one.
The Bodyguard allows you to defend yourself quite easily with a Shield by blocking incoming attacks. You also gain extra Durability and Engineering or Armor in order to withstand a sufficient amount of damage.
The caveat is you will be moving much slower compared to the other classes since you are wielding a massive weapon. Additionally, you have access to several Petrification Grenades, which will allow you to effectively immobilize enemies so you can smoothly jump in for the kill.
Next is the Soldier that initially wields a Halberd to execute ranged attacks. Compared to the Bodyguard, this class is less resilient because the focus is on dealing as much Physical Damage as possible. The consumable that comes with the Soldier is the powerful Explosive Grenade, which allows you to stagger and efficiently deplete the HP of your foes.
Meanwhile, the other two classes will have you wield Light Weapons. The first of which is the Dancer with their Armored Fans, which is already familiar to those who have seen Steelrising’s trailer. If you wish to be a bit more durable while executing quick critical attacks and chained hits, then the Dancer is for you. Not only can you block attacks with ease, but you are also more agile and effective when it comes to immobilizing enemies. You even have Flame Grenades in your arsenal to set them on fire.
Last but not least is the Alchemist who wields Glass-core Batons to inflict status effects such as Frost. This class will have bonuses to boost your resistance against other status effects. The Alchemist carries Alchemical Resistance Vials to neutralize the Alchemical Afflictions that are currently active, thereby reducing the damage you receive over time.
Steelrising Preview – Character Progression (Attributes and Modules)
Only when you interact with the Vestal and Horseless Carriage will you have the chance to improve Aegis. First, there are the Attributes, pertaining to the stats of your character in terms of Attack and Defense. Do you wish to increase your Vigor to raise your stamina in order to be able to execute additional moves as a result? Or do you want to allocate more points into Power to boost Physical Damage? There are certainly several ways that you can go about it to help Aegis to reach her full potential.
Second, you have Modules to give your character extra perks. For instance, you can improve your HP and Anima Essence acquisition by equipping the Grade I Longevity and Grade I Avarice Modules, respectively. Currently, there are only 4 slots available and to be able to unlock them, you need Module Keys, which are acquired through exploration. Note that each of these slots can be leveled up using the same type of key, allowing you to equip better Modules.
Steelrising Preview – Equipment and Loot
Exploring Paris will reward you with a lot of consumables for healing as well as dealing Alchemical Afflictions to inflict damage over time. There are also pieces of gear lying around that will help enhance your performance in combat. Unlike armor, you can upgrade weapons via the Vestal with enough Anima Essence and other materials such as Cast Iron. Additionally, you can cycle between 2 different weapons that are already integrated into your body to use as you see fit. For instance, you can freeze the target first with the Shield Musket and then hack at them using the Halberd.
In the pre-release version, however, there is no certainty as to whether or not Spiders will be adding a crafting system in Steelrising. For now, we are left to wonder how materials can be salvaged from the equipment we no longer intend to use and if we can also upgrade our armor in the future. Here’s hoping that there will be something similar to Greedfall where you have much more control over your gear as opposed to simply enhancing it.
Steelrising Preview – Combat
Steelrising shines because of its fast-paced, fluid, and reactive combat in terms of the execution of skills, regardless of whether it comes from your character or the enemies themselves. Fans of Soulslike titles like Bloodborne and Sekiro will be happy to take on the role of Aegis given how challenging encounters can be.
You will need nerves of steel to understand how every enemy works and what their moves are. There is no shortage of machines to face considering that there are multiple types ranging from Dextral Prototypes to Musketeers who shoot flame bullets from a notable distance. However, I do wish that future boss encounters will have more nuanced move sets compared to the ones presented in the pre-release version to add to the game’s complexity. Despite this, Steelrising is still a perfect middle ground to Soulslike titles because the overall combat is forgiving and fair.
As Aegis, you can perform light, heavy, or charged heavy attacks to eliminate foes. You should also stealthily strike them from behind to gain the upper hand before they can react! Additionally, there is no difficulty mode in the game so it is absolutely vital to upgrade the Attributes of your character and experiment with different weapon combinations to find out what works best for you.
Similar to Nioh’s Ki Pulse, Steelrising utilizes stamina that can be instantly reused once it has been fully depleted but it comes with a price. Recovering this resource will afflict you with Frost Damage. This mechanic is also known as Rapid Cooling. Alternatively, you can opt to cool down and replenish a certain amount of stamina by running away from the enemy, giving you enough time to safely recuperate. Since you are an Automat, you are also subject to overheating when this resource decreases to 0. As such, your actions will be limited, which would prevent you from attacking or even dodging incoming hits.
Audio and Visuals
Steelrising features gorgeous environments and structures that are beautifully laid out. It certainly brings back fond memories from GreedFall. This time around, the visuals are much more polished and visceral because of the enhanced lighting and shadows, which effectively accentuates the grim darkness that surrounds the horrors in Paris. The once-beloved city is indeed burning to the ground and you can clearly see the remnants of the dilapidated houses, abandoned buildings, and haunted forests.
However, the characters’ facial animations continue to be stiff, which was also an issue in GreedFall. It can occasionally be distracting, especially in cut scenes that should be rife with emotion.
Thankfully, the same could not be said of Steelrising’s audio. There are a lot of elements that further elevate your playthrough, and one of them is the sound effects associated with Aegis’ movements. Simply running around or fighting against Automats is akin to how machines would sound if they were to perform these actions in real life. You will noticeably hear the mechanical parts interact with the gears of your character’s body.
The weapons you and the enemies wield also sound distinct up close and from afar, whether it is one of the Automats blasting fire against you or the meaty sound of your Shield Musket landing heavily on the target. To make matters better, the game also showcases amazing voice acting work, making it all the more impressive.
What is noticeable in the pre-release version, however, is how unoptimized Steelrising is. The framerate kept dipping below 45 and there were visual glitches here and there. Alongside this are the occasional crashes I experienced when I headed back to the Main Menu. Hopefully, these are already being worked on by the developers and will be remedied right in time for the launch.
Steelrising is a Soulslike Action RPG with a ton of potential. It caters well to new players who would like to dip their feet in challenging combat, and veterans alike who are used to difficult playthroughs. What’s more is that the game’s visuals are wonderful, enticing you to thoroughly explore every area Paris has to offer. This is even accompanied by an amazing soundtrack and sound effects that will keep your heart pounding, especially in encounters.
If you are searching for a title, which will have you experiment with multiple loadouts while prompting you to uncover the narrative’s secrets, then look no further since Steelrising is just around the corner. You will come across familiar historical figures like Marie-Antoinette and the famed inventor, de Vaucanson. If you love history, then you will find the narrative very intriguing. It is definitely a game you should watch out for on September 8, 2022. Steelrising will be available on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S. The price has yet to be disclosed.
What did you think of this Steelrising Preview? Will you also play it on day 1? Let us know in the comments below! Catch more hands-on impressions in our latest previews and reviews Marvel’s Midnight Suns Gameplay – New Turn-Based RPG/TCG and Elder Scrolls Online High Isle Review.