Owning enemies is the objective in rocket arena shooter ‘PWND’

Skydance Interactive had another game up their sleeves this year at San Diego Comic-Con besides their excellent VR mech shooter Archangel. After I finished playing the game, I worked my way over to the Pwnd stations. This was where I saw players flying around the map chaotically while also disrespecting their enemies by celebrating over their dead bodies. While this may seem like an internet troll’s heaven, it actually is the only method of scoring when playing Pwnd. No points are awarded for kills, and you only get them for pwning them afterward.

Pwnd is inspired from games such as Quake Arena. It takes some of the game’s advanced movements like rocket jumping and implements them as the default movement for players wanting to be mobile. And trust us, you will want to stay mobile while playing Pwnd. Rocket jumping isn’t tedious since you don’t have whip your mouse downwards to aim and then whip upwards when rocket jumping. Players will also have a unique movement based on their character, such as hover or dashing forward with incredible speed.

Pwnd has 4 characters that utilize unique mechanics when it comes to moving, shooting, alternate-fires, special actions and of course Pwning. There are currently 2 other characters in development. And the team at Skydance Interactive are planning to support the game for as long as possible.

Throughout the course of the game, players will earn experience via killing and pwning other players. After gaining enough experience, the player will level up which will increase the strength of their abilities. However, this comes with a catch. Higher level players are worth more points when pwned. So even with a level disadvantage, the opposing team can still end up killing the opponents and getting more bang for their buck. This is one of the levels of strategy that adds depth to the game. And players must be conscious of their actions and decide where to have their battles and when to pwn their foes.

Pwning Vulnerability

Pwning foes is dangerous as it leaves you completely vulnerable to enemy attacks. And once it starts, it won’t stop until the animation finishes. There are ways to make pwning a bit easier such as carrying your foe’s body to a safer location rather than attempting to pwn in the middle of the battlefield. Players will obviously still try to do so, and this can be very dangerous. For if a player is killed mid-animation, they fall on top of the pile, adding their value to the scoring opportunity. These piles can get ludicrously tall in certain games. In conclusion, I was able to pwn a pile that was at least 10 bodies high. This rubber banded our team from imminent defeat to surprise victory.

Over the course of my 3 matches, I felt absolutely zero rage or frustration. Especially when the opposing team stood above my corpse dancing eccentrically. To take one of the most toxic things in shooters and convert it into the main objective is refreshing. It absolves the player of the humiliation because they understand that is the objective of the game.

Now don’t get me wrong, it is still a bit embarrassing to get pwnd by an enemy as they dance over your body. But other than that, you just prepare yourself mentally to repay the favor on your next respawn. Pwnd is by far the fastest paced shooter I have played in a long time. It echoes games like CS: GO, Unreal Tournament, and of course, Quake Arena.

Final Reaction

The game is playable with either controller or keyboard/mouse control schemes. This is great for those who have the determination to play with their desired control type. However, I found my performance was much better when using the latter as most would expect. Pwnd was a pleasant surprise and one game that I will be eagerly waiting on for more content and the diverse taunts that come with it.

Check out the trailer below and let us know what you think.

Pwnd is currently available on Steam Early Access for $29.99.

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