Games of 2023: Hyenas preview

Looking ahead once again at some of the games we’re expecting this year, we check out Sega’s HYENAS, a multiplayer-only first person shooter that mixes a sci-fi setting with pop culture memorabilia for an interesting combination.

Another interesting combination is that of a first person shooter and Creative Assembly, who although they developed Alien: Isolation are mostly known for their Total War games. Hyenas represents quite a shift for them, both in genre and in tone, and when attending a presentation for the game it didn’t feel like a Creative Assembly title at all – which is mostly a good thing, as it’s hard to shake something you’re so closely tied to.

But despite the setting, Hyenas’ gameplay concept isn’t completely new. The Dark Zones in The Division already had players going in with teams to take down enemies and grab loot, while other teams trying to do the same will happily take you down to steal it. The setting and attitude here are very different though, as the Hyenas love stealing from the rich and entitled who left Earth behind to rot while they enjoy its riches – which happen to also include cultural riches that you want to take away from them.

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The presentation is delightfully cartoon-like, and the loot you’re going after can be something as SEGA-infused as a figurine or something as iconic as a Rubik’s cube. It’s the kind of stuff that’s there to bring a smile to the faces of players, and the developers actually have an entire team of people working on securing IP rights to put in all sorts of pop culture gems – fun and nostalgia are definitely prominent factors of the experience.

Your opponents aren’t the rich folk who own this stuff either, but the AI security forces they’ve hired – and other Hyenas. They’re not too careful about unloading some ammo on your, so expect plenty of mayhem and action, which in part is fueled by the nature of engaging in combat in zero gravity (for parts of the levels) and the diverse nature of the characters and weapons you can choose from. You can play as a sniper, or maybe you want to employ a foam gun, which doubles as a way to create custom shields.

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Get past the security forces, and you can attempt to open the vault to extract your loot, but as other teams of Hyenas are also eyeing the same prize you’re always in for a hard fight to get anything out and permanently keep the loot for you and your team. When we saw the game for the first time it only had six different characters, but Creative Assembly is looking to roughly triple that number – which could make for some interesting team-based tactics.

The roster’s not the only element that felt early in development though – we learned from the developers that they were still working out different scenarios for the narrative, which loot to include and how to use it beyond it’s cool pop culture gimmick, and the visuals will no doubt be refined more as development progresses. It’s always nice to get an early look at ambitious titles like this though, and as we enjoy pop culture we can’t wait to dive into this one in a more hands-on manner later this year.

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