When a problem comes along, you must whip it
At first glance, Freedom Wars' slower-paced co-op combat and behind-the-back camera make it look like just another multiplayer-focused Monster Hunter knockoff. But in both its mysterious sci-fi setting and its actual gameplay mechanics, Freedom Wars distinguishes itself from the rest of the pack in style. I got the chance to play SCE Japan Studio's latest hunting action game on PS Vita, and let me tell you: Thorn whips are the wave of the future.
What is a Thorn whip, you ask? It's the solution to my biggest pet peeve with Monster Hunter-like games: sluggish movement, and how agonizingly long it takes to get anywhere as a result. In Freedom Wars, the action takes place in the ruins of a futuristic metropolis (Earth in the year 102013, to be exact). Because all the environments take place amidst giant, crumbling skyscrapers, you can latch on to any surface using your Thorn, a whip of reddish energy that'll pull you to whatever you've hooked. Instead of trudging around and waiting for a stupid sprint meter, you can swing towards enemies or directly onto them like a costume-less, Japanese Spider-Man. And because of the far future setting, the gargantuan enemies look quite a bit cooler and more refreshing compared to the oversized dragons you've seen time and again in Monster Hunter.
The scenario is also the kind of intriguing premise that you'd expect from an underground manga. You've been sentenced to 1,000,000 years of imprisonment, and each mission takes a chunk off your time depending on how well you performed. This does wonders for contextualizing the action; instead of battling for hours in the hopes of scoring incrementally better gear, there's actually the light of freedom awaiting at the end of the tunnel.
Check out the following screenshots for additional info!
The monsters terrorizing the surface are called Abductors. Their presence has forced humanity underground, to cities known as Panopticons
Dodging is key to succeeding in battle, as is knowing when to use your light or heavy attacks
Citizens are often trapped inside the bodies of Abductors; once you've broken them out of their cages, you'll have to carry them to safety
Up to eight players can team up to cooperatively take down gigantic monsters...
...or duke it out in large-scale PvP battles
Using the Thorn whip to zip around the ruined cities is an acrobatic good time
To give you a sense of its popularity overseas, Freedom Wars has been topping the "Most anticipated" charts in Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu for weeks