No classes, no levelling, no regenerating health, no cover systems, no iron sight aiming, no reloading, no bullshit. These few words in TOXIKK’s teaser trailer perfectly sum up Reakktor Studios’ nostalgic homage to classic arena FPS. Survival is purely dependent on player skill. If you consider yourself a Call of Duty or Battlefield expert, TOXIKK will make you feel like a blindfolded infant surrounded by wild animals. It’s unforgiving, tough to master, oftentimes frustrating and absolutely delicious. Developed by a small group of industry veterans, TOXIKK is a spiritual successor to FPS classics like Quake Arena and Unreal Tournament. It’s a modestly priced bullet storm that boasts AAA production values and presents itself as the greatest hits collection of some of the best PC shooters of the past.
FPS games have come a long way since the Quake, Doom and Unreal Tournament days. They’ve evolved, but not entirely for the better. Nearly every major franchise has been redesigned for accessibility. That’s not to say that COD or Battlefield aren’t challenging or competitive, it’s quite the contrary, but they are easier to pick up and master compared to decade old FPS classics. For FPS purists, there are less and less options each year, so it’s pretty exciting when a developer decides to revert to basics.
"If you consider yourself a Call of Duty or Battlefield expert, TOXIKK will make you feel like a blindfolded infant surrounded by wild animals."
At its current Early Access stage, TOXIKK offers only one map and two gameplay modes. Foundation is a Hong Kong inspired cityscape that’s dense in design and serves as the perfect training ground for future, more open maps. While it’s filled with tight corridors that provide superb flanking opportunities, there aren’t any hiding spots or safe zones. TOXIKK stays true to the classics that inspired it, emphasizing fast, run-and-gun gameplay and pixel-perfect reflexes.
Depending on gamers’ gameplay preferences, TOXIKK may require serious mouse tweaking before finding acceptable sensitivity settings. The default settings are too jumpy, resulting in twitchy aiming for those with slightly higher DPI. Even with acceleration turned off, and mouse sensitivity completely lowered, TOXIKK’s movement is twitchy and too responsive. This may be due to my custom Gamdias Zeus profile, but it’s the first game in years that requires external profile adjustments just to make it playable. Did the developers assume only hardcore pros with 400 DPI mice are going to play the game? Hopefully a future patch will provide more mouse setting in the actual game menu for easier calibrating.
"Foundation is a Hong Kong inspired cityscape that’s dense in its design and serves as the perfect training ground for future, more open maps."
After a bit of tweaking, TOXIKK plays like a dream. Movement is smooth, the gunplay satisfying and the rush of chasing after higher-powered weapons is unparalleled. All players start with a base-pistol and a cloaking ability. There are a handful of different weapons and power-ups scattered around the environment, so learning the map layout is key to gaining the upper hand. At this point, the weapon selection is limited, but there’s enough variety to keep the combat exciting, and each gun has a secondary fire. And did I mention there is no melee attack? Yea, TOXIKK is old-school down to the little details.
However, there are some noteworthy problems. The “old-school” gameplay also brings old fashioned problems. The pistol is too underpowered. It takes too many shots to take an enemy down, which is extremely aggravating when you’re spawned beside a player carrying a rocket launcher. Ah yes. Then there’s the rocket launcher. Because of its one-shot-kills-everything ability, matches quickly become frustrating as everyone hunts down the same weapon. Soon, every player is running around with a rocket launcher, and it leaves little room for experimentation...or even actual gameplay. Nearly 50% of the time, players were dropping from matches because they were just getting fed up with the high-skill players having all the fun. The balance is off at the moment. It’s also very difficult to find full lobbies at this point. This isn’t a design flaw, it’s just a shame that there aren’t many people playing right now.
"While still in Early Access, TOXIKK is shaping up to be one of the finest classic arena FPS shooters in years."
Visually, TOXIKK looks like a big budget release, and it’s hard to believe it’s being developed by a small indie studio. The attention to detail, the lighting, the crisp textures, everything looks stunning. The graphics even rival the recent Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. They’re that good. The Halo-inspired combat suits are well-designed too, although a little more customization wouldn’t hurt. The one thing I “don’t” miss about classic arena FPS is the lack of personality and customization. Even custom paint jobs would make a big difference.
While still in Early Access, TOXIKK is shaping up to be one of the finest classic arena FPS shooters in years. From the superb visuals to the buttery smooth controls, TOXIKK is a fantastic package for hardcore FPS veterans. With bigger maps, better weapon balance and a few extra modes, TOXIKK may turn out to be the biggest thing since Quake and Unreal Tournament.
Preview by: Tin Salamunic | Previewed on: PC