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Climax Studios has released their more modern take on a top-down space shoot’em up, RiftStar Raiders for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Those interested in getting a taste of what the four-player online co-operative space shoot ‘em up has to offer can download a free trial version of RiftStar Raiders on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
It is fairly obvious that Climax Studios’ RiftStar Raiders is heavily inspired by retro and arcade classics from the golden days of old. It might even look oddly familiar to Housemarque’s thrilling retro arcade hits like Resogun and Super Stardust HD, or Armature Studio’s Dead Star from 2016. Yet, RiftStar Raiders finds a way to bring something new to the table. The game offers Spacecraft customization, which is done by looting cash and perks from enemies, using them to craft and upgrade your ship’s systems, weapons, shields and boost engines. It’s all about the loot baby!
In RiftStar Raiders, set in the outer reaches of deep space, the galaxy is under threat. The WarSwarm, a deadly AI hive mind, is seeking to destroy and conquer the known universe, and it’s up to the players to save the day. As the Federation’s most infamous outlaws, Raiders are enlisted to team up, using their guile, guts and guns to protect the galaxy… and turn a tidy profit in the process.
I would definitely recommend to play the game’s short but useful tutorial dubbed, Event 0. This short tutorial helps you to get used to how to shoot, dash, dodge and shoot some more. This might sound like a no brainer but getting used to the game’s controls and pace is definitely beneficial when trying to make your way through the nine story-based missions the game has to offer. The game constantly pushes you and your possible teammates to have to adapt your play style the harder the missions get. It is a good to know what you are capable of.
The game is quite challenging, especially near the end, and pushes you to try and be better every retry, which is quite traditional in this genre. Playing the game in co-op makes this experience a lot easier and less frustrating. RiftStar Raiders is highly enjoyable when playing with up to 3 extra friends. Playing with friends is always more fun than alone, in most occasions at least. RiftStar Raiders even offers extra gameplay elements when playing co-op with friends. You and your friends have the chance to reanimate fallen pilots and as you might suspect co-op also creates the ability to plot a more tactical approach in defeating enemies. It’s nice to know somebody got your back when being swarmed by enemies.
Customization is king in RiftStar Raiders. The game’s unique selling point turns out to be the game’s most interesting feature. You are offered a ton of weapons, shields and other options. I have rarely disliked a game that offered me loadout options and a big pile of glorious loot. I fondly remember the good old days where my friends and I made it rain massive amounts of loot in Borderlands 2. I also intensely hated some of my friends for looting the weapons I wanted. It’s these kind of shenanigans that will infuriate you. And also makes you have a crazy amount of fun with your friends while playing RiftStar Raiders – even when you are shouting and cussing at them. The game has a shared loot system, sort of. Most notably the random perks that destroyed enemies drop. These perks are only available shortly and can be picked up by only one of the players to be used to upgrade that player’s skill tree after completing a mission. You can pickup another player’s perks upon death before reanimating them as well. We all know how foolish it would be to only upgrade your own skilltree and leave your friends behind. Right? This is one example of how the game forces you to think about tactics and cooperation.
I just tried to describe how enjoyable the game is to play with friends. You might have noticed that I mentioned the word “friends” a couple of times too often. This was done intentionally as the game only offers to play the co-op multiplayer with your online friends. There is no option to wreak havoc with randos or offline friends. Keeping in mind that the game’s upgrade system uses a shared perk drop this might not be such a bad idea. Still, when you have no online friends, or none of those are actually interested in playing this game, it quickly gets boring without friends and more challenging at the same time.
The story is weak and feels like it’s been reused one to many times before. The galaxy is at risk and being attacked by The WarSwarm, a deadly AI hive mind. It is up to you, the player to stop them before they destroy and conquer the known universe. Don’t expect to peel away layers of character building and unexpected plot twists. This game is best to be enjoyed without thinking too much about what it is that drives you to shoot and more about enjoying shooting.
Should you play RiftStar Raiders?
RiftStar Raiders is best enjoyed if you are looking for a cool and fairly straight forward top-down shooter to play with your online friends, while laughing and trash talking. The games loot system and customization options are well done and interesting enough to keep you playing way beyond the story-based missions.
Don’t expect an immersive story or a unique experience. The story is weak and nowhere near original or intriguing. Next to a reused story the game doesn’t offer anything that hasn’t been done multiple times before as well. However, what it does, it does pretty good. It’s a shame you can only play with online friends and not your offline friends, or online randos.