Set in the world of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, First Assault is a tactical FPS that promises to rely on cooperation and strategy with a shed load of customization options alongside. Given that players will be controlling Cyborgs said customization should open up some pretty cool options. It’s one thing to alter the scope on a gun but it’s a whole new world when you can change the function of your own body. Being part of the Ghost in the Shell universe certainly doesn’t hurt either as there is a well established world and lore already waiting to envelope First Assault along with a roster of die hard fans to bring along.

Early access has largely fallen from grace recently with a lot of developers becoming complacent in leaving a game in its early access state. It’s a shame but early access can just be a way to charge for a half finished game sometimes. It’s particularly nasty when you have to pay outright to own a title that might never become the full game it should. And even worse when you have to pay, albeit very reasonable, for a game that will become free to play in the future, like First Assault. Here’s hoping First Assault doesn’t fall into the trap. Honestly it looks promising and a lot of features are solid enough already to be put into place. The aim of early access for First Assault genuinely appears to be balancing and tweaking more than anything which is a good thing, so long as it doesn’t go on forever.

The reason given is to create a Ghost in the Shell title that will not upset or displease fans but honestly that shows a lack of confidence to me. It’s one thing to take feedback from players and evolve your game, in fact these days with regular updating it’s a no brainer particularly for PC titles. But to hold off on release just to make sure no one is unhappy strikes me as timid especially considering First Assault has already had a closed beta phase. Plus the free to play model is yet another marketing model that has fallen from grace, but my concern is the fact you currently have to pay for First Assault. I wonder how this investment will work out once it becomes free because I would bet there are very few tangible advantages for those who paid for early access.

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Despite my reservations about early access First Assault is actually a reasonably robust game already. There are some slight balancing issues with certain weapons and a few of the usual problems any online shooter would experience in the early days but nothing that stands out as particularly negative or unexpected. Those who are migrating from other shooters won’t be all that surprised by what they find and the issues that need addressing are certainly less severe than a lot of other multiplayer titles I’ve played at launch. I will be first in line to admit early access has it’s place and so far it seems to be an asset to First Assault. I just hope they get brave enough to push into full release before too long.

The class abilities are varied and can make a decent impact on gameplay and style. I was glad, however, not to find anything as overpowered as the invisibility from Killzone which completely overshadows the other classes. Abilities are quite well balanced although I’m sure there will be tweaks in the future and most offer some aspect of team cooperation or strategy that allows First Assault’s intended design to thrive.

Game modes are nothing surprising but are almost entirely focused on strategy and team play which is such a refreshing change. Building the community up this way from the start seems to have helped too and for a competitive multiplayer title the community is largely constructive – or at least it isn’t destructive. That’s not to say I went on and met anybody I’m going to invite round for tea and biscuits but I didn’t have some 12 year old camping and constantly shouting abuse as if I’d just killed his parents. Thankfully this is not Call of Duty and it doesn’t look like it wants to be. If there’s one thing that drives me away from online play it’s an acidic community like COD’s so First Assault really pleased me on that front.

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Until First Assault is pushed to a full release it’s going to be difficult to get a real feel for the game and how unlocking and the inevitable premium currency will be valued. So far there’s a decent community, although it’s still a little small but hopefully that will grow when the game hits free to play. My only hope there is that it doesn’t bring along a load of people who destroy the community. There are some solid mechanics that need to evolve as any online shooter does but First Assault isn’t a million miles away from being complete. There’s certainly a lot of promise to First Assault and hopefully when it hits full release it hasn’t become too old and forgotten.

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Phill has been the director of a small IT repair business since 2011 which he runs alongside studying for his degree in Information and Communication Technologies at the Open University. Video games are his real passion and they take up more of his time than he’d like to admit.