Atomic Heart has a release date, a new trailer, and an absolute banger of ’80s Soviet pop

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It’s been a while since we last heard from Atomic Heart, the alternate reality FPS-RPG set in a retrofuturistic USSR, but developer Mundfish has seen fit to give us a surprise in time for Gamescom. It comes in the form of an announcement that the game will release later this year, and a new trailer showcasing the game’s gunplay, powers, enemies, and… halo-braided robot women cutting each other open with unicorn horns. Sure!

It’s one of the most in-depth looks we’ve gotten at the game’s combat so far, and it’ll look incredibly familiar to anyone who’s ever laid hands on a BioShock game. From the trailer, it looks like you’ll be wielding powers in your left hand and a weapon (ranged or melee) in your right, unless you’re toting something like a Kalashnikov that requires both hands. Combat seems to be a bit faster-paced than it was back in Rapture, though: the trailer shows the protagonist using their powers to manage throngs of fast-moving enemies and dodging out of the way of charging behemoths.

Hopefully it all fits together into a combat system that’s weighty and satisfying; it’s difficult to get a proper gauge on it from the trailer alone. Either way, though, I’ve been willing to tolerate a lacklustre combat system if the vibes are good enough ever since the first Deus Ex, and vibes seem to be something Atomic Heart has in dizzying abundance.

I’m looking forward to this one. Everything we’ve seen of Atomic Heart so far has been redolent of BioShock, Stalker, and Prey (2017). That’s a potent admixture all by itself, but when you drench it all in Soviet kitsch and give it an Alla Pugacheva soundtrack, you’re basically sitting down and making a game just for me.

We’ve been keeping a close eye on Atomic Heart ever since it came out of nowhere with a scintillating trailer back in 2018, but it’s remained a beautiful mystery ever since. Even now, with a surfeit of trailers and a vague release date, I can’t really tell you exactly what it is this game is going to be. Whatever it is, though, I’m into it more than almost anything else I’ve seen this year.

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