Before Hyenas was announced, the news that the developer behind Alien: Isolation was making a sci-fi shooter set certain expectations. When it was eventually revealed, it felt like the Creative Assembly purposely set out to make the polar opposite of whatever most of us were imagining. In E376’s expansive cover feature, we spend time with game and developer to find out exactly what makes this multiplayer heist-’em-up tick.
Fresh off the back of Halo Wars 2, a strategy game based on an existing property, the studio was evidently keen to push in a completely different direction. Hence, the competitive crime spree of Hyenas, in which five teams of three compete to grab as much merchandise as they can from a large spaceship before escaping with it – and their lives – intact. There are elements of Payday 2, Prey and Escape From Tarkov, while it winds up in a situation familiar to players of battle royale games: a climactic shootout within narrow boundaries – only here it’s an extraction point, where the squad with the booty fend off rivals as their teleporter gradually warms up.
It does, however, share some common features with Alien: Isolation, not least the way it views the future through the lens of the past. Here, the swag you’re chasing is designed to precision-target your nostalgia gland: in this future, the detritus of our childhoods has become ultra-valuable, meaning you’re battling it out to secure Rubik’s Cubes, VHS tapes, Panini sticker albums and mixtapes.
There are elements of hero shooter, too, in the unique designs and skillsets of its criminals. Our cover star Prima, for example, is a deranged ballerina capable of graceful zero-g acrobatics, while drag queen Galaxia’s ability to halt bullets in mid-flight harks back to a certain late-’90s sci-fi classic. Then there’s astronaut Captain Wright, who comes with a foam gun. Live product director Alex Hunnisett says it’s his favourite toy in the game: “Just because it can be used in so many ways”. It doesn’t take much imagination to work out how it might be used offensively, or as a protective barrier while you’re mid-raid. “But it can also be used for traversal,” Hunnisett says. “You can whack up a bit of foam, jump onto that and get to otherwise inaccessible areas of the map.”
All of that and much, much more is discussed in our extensive feature, which explains why this immediately engaging online shooter is also built to last. Elsewhere in E376, we explore how developers and fan cartographers are charting new horizons in videogame maps, from Tunic to Elden Ring. Edge columnist Adrian Hon takes us inside the compulsion loop and invites us to consider whether the gamification of games is good for our health and theirs. We tell the story behind the making of dreamlike cyberpunk adventure Norco, find out how Gibbon developer Broken Rules kept on swinging, and revisit Metroid Prime 3: Corruption to explain why Retro’s threequel says it best when it says nothing at all.
We also attend the Commonwealth Games’ first videogame competition: does it feel like a torchbearer for esports? And we investigate how, with energy prices reaching eye-watering levels, you can reduce your gaming footprint. With verdicts on Saints Row, Rollerdrome, Ooblets, Hindsight and Cursed To Golf, and previews of the still-alive-somehow Dead Island 2, Flock, Moonbreaker and The Excavation Of Hob’s Barrow, there’s plenty to dig into in Edge 376.
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