March 11, 2022

Andreas Betsche

Project Xandata Early Access Hands-On Preview

March 11, 2022 | Andreas Betsche

For more than five years, the Filipino studio Secret 6 has been working on their 3v3 multiplayer shooter Project Xandata. After a short delay, the game is now scheduled to start in Early Access on Steam on March 22, 2022. Virtual SEA had the opportunity to play it in advance and ask the developers a few questions.

More info about the background story & setting

In a one-hour presentation followed by a Q&A session, the makers gave us more details about the story and setting of Project Xandata. The game is set on Xandaigdig, a sci-fi world influenced by Filipino culture. There we take on the role of Xandats, heavily armed fighters who have mastered the art of the Magitech – a mixture of magic and technology that allows them to control the power of the elements, all made possible by ancient artifacts being recovered on Xandaigdig. These magical fighters now go head-to-head in action-packed battles for… well, for what exactly?

Even after the explanations, the game’s primary setting is not 100% clear to us. Still, we missed the extent to which gameplay and story complement each other and whether the background story will mainly remain in the, well, background or play a more significant role. After all, the developers have now published a story trailer that captures the relatively light-hearted tone but also the sarcastic mood of the game:

Classic shooter gameplay paired with modern elements

The gameplay, instead, of Project Xandata was more convincing for us. We already had the opportunity to plunge into the turmoil of battle and gain first-hand impressions of the gameplay and game modes. Even if this cannot replace a long-term test, we can already say that we liked it overall. 

The battles all take place in smaller arenas, so it doesn’t take long for combat between teams of three Xandats to break out. The nine existing weapons are pleasantly impactful and differ fundamentally in their handling. Still, overall we would have liked more variation and creativity: these futuristic weapons are very much based on real-world classics such as revolvers, submachine guns, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers.

The fighting is pleasantly reminiscent of classics such as Quake or the early Halos consisting of uncomplicated action enhanced by modern elements such as double jumps, pickups, or the aforementioned MagiTech. Although Project Xandata is not a hero shooter in the sense of Overwatch, the game’s individual classes have a whole range of special abilities and superpowers that need to be used skillfully in battle.

However, these special abilities are still a source of both praise and concern: On the one hand, they are fun because you can use them to create new situations on the battlefield that cannot be solved with pure force of arms. On the other hand, we still found the skills confusing, difficult to distinguish, and at times too overpowered.

Secret 6 will have to improve here and react to player feedback. But that’s what Early Access programs are for, aren’t they?

On the other hand, we found it reasonable that the three classes, Agent (Attack), Juggernaut (Heavy), and Marksman (Sniper), complement each other well. However, after a short time, we missed a support class, such as a healer. In the future, however, other classes are to be added to remain curious. Also lovely: The loadouts of the classes (weapons, skills) can be flexibly adjusted both before and during a game so that we can react quickly to new situations.

Pretty maps and varied game modes

At launch, the handful of maps play differently and are visually appealing, but overall could quickly become monotonous since almost all of them are closed arenas connected by sci-fi corridors. Secret 6 should probably follow up as soon as possible so that the players don’t get bored. The different game modes are already entertaining and varied, in which we either collect resources in competition (Corruption), charge a portable battery (Overcharge), or just give each other hell (Skirmish, Free For All). With Annihilation, another mode is also being planned, primarily aimed at competitive teams.

Customization and the in-game store

As many players react negatively to in-game transactions, this topic should be addressed here. According to the developers, Project Xandata will offer an in-game store, but only cosmetic items will be available. It will also provide a “Battle Pass” called Prestige, where players unlock additional gear throughout collecting experience during their gameplay sessions. These functions have not been activated, so we cannot assess them at this moment.

The developers refrained from implementing crypto-based systems such as NFTs. In the Q&A, they said the controversial blockchain mechanisms would cause too much ambiguity. They see no advantages that this technology would bring to the game.

Early Access Roadmap

For the early access period, which should last about a year, the developers have confirmed that they will first work on quality-of-life improvements. An FPS cap and a kill cam will be integrated into the game soon. In addition to further localizations, content updates such as seasons, new weapons, skills, and classes will follow. 

Promising approaches but still some unfinished business

Despite the short playing time, we already had fun with Project Xandata. The fights are pleasantly fast and feel “retro” in a good way. The graphic style is functional and fits the game well with its references to the Megaman series and slight Pinoy influences. 

But we still have a bit of a headache with the content: too few maps, slightly unimaginative weapons, and too confusing special abilities could quickly let the game run out of steam. Here the developers have to top up quickly! Technically, however, the game ran smoothly, only the matchmaking didn’t seem mature enough to us, as, after a long wait, we were frequently thrown into unequal matches (1vs3). Only time will tell whether the developers will be able to get these problems under control. Incidentally, the same applies to the game’s monetization through in-game shops and microtransactions.

Even if the developers still have a lot to do, they have already created a convincing multiplayer shooter, which is not only the first from the Philippines and is also the first game by the studio, otherwise known for commissioned work, that has been produced in-house. For that alone, the result is already more than respectable!

Project Xandata will be available on Steam as an Early Access game from March 22, 2022.

Andreas Betsche

Andreas Betsche founded Virtual SEA in early 2016 after researching Cambodian mobile games for his Master’s thesis. He has a background in Southeast Asia studies and has worked and lived in Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Since he has been actively playing games since the early 90s, combing both worlds in Virtual SEA brought together both of his passions.

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