Take Destiny, combine it with the agility of Horizon: Zero Dawn and the supernatural abilities of Kratos from God of War, and what do you get? Atlas Fallen embellishes a sandy dune of perils surrounding four biomes that encapsulates an insanely gorgeous world where your unnamed protagonist and possibly a friend, skirts the earth confronting mammoth menaces while vying to trove hauls of treasures hidden deep within this imaginative map, crafted with love by German development studio Deck13 Interactive. An ambitious project indeed, Atlas Fallen melds facets familiar to gamers with hopes of giving those more acclimated with open-world platforming, a mixture of ARPG elements that intertwine massively multiplayer online titles without overwhelming the player with too much at once.
It questionably places the campaign’s plot on the backburner for more interactivity and practical demonstration, rather than delivering a long-winded tale, but with little resolve to emphasise Atlas Fallen’s importance, the title lacks an encouraging factor in quality-of-life and replayability. It ultimately turns its focus on gameplay without structuring the importance of delivering a plot worthy of fulfilling, which unequivocally falls short of anything momentous, or worth carrying out to its final act. Regardless, the forty-hour campaign does strive to give those seeking a time-sink something worthwhile, even if it lacks a lofty conclusion while elongating its worth for completing numerous fetch quests, more-or-less. Atlas Fallen still poses some decent facets and features that could indeed inspire core fundamentals, albeit some that are essentially borrowed from popular AAA titles.
✔️ Fantastic ARPG for casuals.
✔️ Fun online co-op to play with friends.
✔️ Excellent gameplay loop.
❌ Barely a plotline to carry its thin campaign.
❌ Some texture pop-in and bugs.
With pivotal facets borrowed from Deck13’s The Surge, discreetly implemented here, Atlas Fallen keeps its integrity upheld with a fresh new take on the broad, traversal style of the Action-RPG genre. While aesthetics are exemplary, fluid controls and combat are king here, with rewarding ways to upgrade your arsenal that are mainly attached to the occasional fetch quest that you will find to be the primary gameplay loop of this escapade.
Customising your character is seamless and simple, and finding new objectives to accept seem endless, but that is until you’re stretched quite thin before leading right back to Atlas Fallen’s subpar story. The sandy dunes bluntly describe the creative drought this title faces without having enough depth to cover its campaign. And while I had fun playing online with few friends that owned the title, the lack of local co-op lacked the elevated excitement needed for me to walk the bleak outlands of Atlas again.
The emphasis on collecting items and upgrading tech is what Atlas Fallen encourages its players to strive for, rather than a clear-cut comprehensive story to sink their teeth into. It’s hard to gauge where, what or why this entire campaign has any justified resolve attached, but as progress you tend to coast through it which I can’t necessarily complain about, but it feels unrewarding in some capacity. It’s almost like I was playing an online MMO, offline? There’s no greater way to describe it. The repetitive mission statement to collect three shards to upgrade weaponry becomes cumbersome, almost tedious at times and takes up the majority of Atlas Fallen’s lacking narrative. Gauntlet upgrades become the objective heading toward the campaign’s final arc, but with little less than filler to compensate for a thin plotline gives little-to-no ambition in wanting to complete it.
While some say bottlenecking would be evident by mandating some impeding requests to upgrade with hopes accessing gated areas, enhancements to your overall arsenal make for much more immersive traversing across Atlas itself. But to say that its incredibly stifled would be a massive oversight with much of the campaign being quite straightforward and void of anything worthwhile unless you trudge across each biome to gain aforementioned abilities. Reveal lets you unlock areas, or de-cloak floating platforms and objects to hurdle across vast pitfalls. Cosmetics addons are collected and can be added to your armour and other pieces of kit via the inventory, where you can also explore the title’s ginormous map, along with mission dialogues to complete. Your gauntlet can be customised here, with upgrades made in seamless fashion.
While the focus relies on its expeditious campaign, rapid pacing, eccentric features and embellished plot, it lacks tremendously in story and heart.
While co-op is easy to access and certainly elevates the experience exponentially, the lacking local co-op is felt but to be quite frank it’s not missed any stretch as Atlas Fallen is seemingly not campaigned toward those looking to sit down with a partner and engage in some old fashioned couch co-op. Combat throughout the onset of your expedition is quite easy to acclimate yourself with, especially players of the Monster Hunter series, as you will find a certain likeness toward each encounter here. The hack and slash style that can be transformed to aerial with bigger enemies as opposed to surface based altercations demonstrate some form of variety, but the offense remains the same. The two eccentric yet basic manoeuvres are backed by melee weapons such as your sand whip allows ranged attacks while the direct approach in simply punching your enemy pulverises them into dust as it’s described.
A literal sandbox...
Combination chains while utilising offensive strikes are one of the feature attractions in Atlas Fallen, that display a style and grace seen in other titles, with an unorthodox comparison being Sora from Kingdom Hearts, or a Kratos from the original God of War series with his blades of chaos, as your protagonist cleanly dodges and weaves across the screen like a majestic wizard – it’s a weird description, but trust me it’s exactly how it’s described. Now unlike many RPG’s out there that depend on EXP or arbitrary point system upgrades, your momentum gauge in Atlas Fallen is where your currency lies, and it’s perfect for casual ARPG players that are not accustom to the aforementioned units to unlock certain upgrades through its tri-tier waves. Simply engaging through combat and raising your momentum will allow you to spend on upgrades through the Essence Stones in your gauntlet.
However, there is a polarising aspect that’s more a risk-reward system in play while trying to gain more momentum possible. The more you accumulate, the higher risk of damage you take. It’s quite the compromise as you will need to take the plunge at some points to claim higher upgrades but at the cost of your protagonist’s own health. Your momentum also be used to finish off your opponent, but will always drain back to zero upon initiating the move, whether successful or not which is a massive risk in itself. Difficulty spikes are certainly evident, with many unbalanced fights occurring early into the campaign. The tension heightens however as you head toward the endgame with most monsters becoming indestructible at times. While the final boss was certainly underwhelming, it’s the enemies you come across along the way that pose the real challenge.
Aesthetically speaking, Atlas Fallen has moments where it will leave you in absolute awe of its beauty. A gorgeous overlay upon a detailed terrain is eye-candy to those that love themselves a sci-fi action-adventure. It’s the cutscenes however that let me down the most with close-ups on characters that look gaunt, lifeless and can’t match their lips with their own speech. It’s an annoying habit with development when it’s rushed to the point where simple lip-syncing is skipped over to finalise other features, while little detail is always appreciated but neglected. In-game it looks tremendous in transitional moments, but as the momentum rises, the quality falls with the game looking more like an early 2011 title from three generations ago. Audio-wise, it’s fine. It does the job and sounds okay. The voice acting is a little corny and phoned in but delivers adequately.
Atlas Fallen strikes a sweet spot in bringing just enough to the table that you get a satisfying campaign, but a resolve that can feel empty. While the focus relies on its expeditious campaign, rapid pacing, eccentric features and embellished plot, it lacks tremendously in story and heart. The underwhelming sensation that may linger after finishing the campaign is just, but a quality-of-life Atlas Fallen has running for it is its myriad of fetch quests that completionists will no doubt have a ball sand-surfing across its vast map to fulfil. It’s not the best, but most certainly not the worst ARPG out there, but could it be improved upon? Yes, most definitely. Potentially expanded with some DLC? Hey remember when Destiny first launched? Look how far that franchise went. Atlas Fallen has that exact potential if thought out.
Atlas Fallen is an action role-playing video game developed by Deck13 Interactive and published by Focus Entertainment. The game was released for Windows, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X and Series S in August 2023.