You’re going to be smashing a lot of robots in Atomic Heart. You’ll need to blast them in two or tear them limb from limb to ensure your own survival. But those moments of violence are just one part of a bigger cycle; by destroying robots you can then harvest their components, which can then be used to upgrade your weapons and abilities, which in turn can then be used to destroy more robots. That’s the cycle of life in the halls of Facility 3826.
Rip and Tear
Developer Mundfish has put a lot of work into making Atomic Heart’s combat system as satisfying as possible, and a big part of delivering that satisfaction is through detailed damage. As you cleave through robots, their synthetic skin will tear open and reveal the metal structures within. More industrial-style enemies will see their armored casings become scratched and dented with each new strike. And, of course, bullets will puncture enemies with holes and rockets will blast them to pieces. No matter your choice in weaponry, the deadly impact of them will be reflected on the enemies you battle.
While Atomic Heart’s numerous weapons and special powers can be used on any enemy, there’s often a benefit to choosing the right weapon for the job. Each type of robot has a unique vulnerability that you’ll want to exploit, and so discovering that weak point and targeting it with the right weapon will help you take down ferocious foes as fast and efficiently as possible. Sometimes those weaknesses will be obvious during the course of battle, such as a robot’s armor opening up to expose its glowing core. For the times when a weakness is not obvious, your personal scanner will provide hints to help you find it.
With your robot enemies dead, their shattered remains can then be looted for components. Polymer batteries, superconductors, and other electronic items are just some of the things you’ll find on them, and these can be used to upgrade both your weapons and the abilities of your Polymer Glove. That includes special skills such as blasting bolts of shocking electricity, freezing enemies in place, and telekinetically smashing robots into the floor.
Your telekinesis skill isn’t just useful for beating up foes, though; it can also be used to collect scraps and items from around the world. Mundfish has created a unique looting mechanic that allows you to telekinetically vacuum up items close to you; drawers and cabinets quite literally open up and their contents leap into your hands. This means you don’t have to open and search every individual cupboard and container, which ensures Atomic Heart’s rapid pace is never slowed.
You may be able to collect everything in a room within a few seconds, but you will have to be aware of how much you’re carrying. Everything you pick up goes into your Yarov-Abalakov backpack, which shrinks objects so that you may carry much, much more than usual. However, while items do get smaller, they don’t get lighter. Mundfish says that “traveling around the world with a ton of resources stacked in your bag can get uncomfortable”, suggesting there may be some kind of inventory management required.
For more on Atomic Heart, check out our IGN First articles on the game’s robots and its fascinating alternate history of the Soviet Union. You can also watch the release date trailer and ten minutes of a brutal boss fight.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Features Editor.