The highly anticipated Biomutant is here, nearly four years after first being announced. Does it live up to the hype? Well, yes and no. Have no fear, It is a great game – albeit one marred by a few pacing issues, technical glitches, and underwhelming boss fights.
The world as we know it was long ago wiped out due to our greed and the irresponsible decisions made by Toxanol. Now, only remnants of the past are left, and a new breed of animal hybrid has evolved and roams the desolate remains of Earth. Unfortunately, a plague is ruining the land and The End is quickly approaching. The Tree of Life, once a beacon of hope for the small surviving communities, is slowly being destroyed by four World Eaters. Arguments have arisen between the remaining tribes over how to deal with the inevitable end, leading to a full-scale war. The world is lost and needs a hero to either save it or destroy it.
You tackle Biomutant as a creature of your own creation during the rather robust character creation screen. You can choose your specialties, size, strengths, and even fur color before heading out into the world. Driven by your quest for revenge – or possibly forgiveness – you head out to find Lupa-Lipin, a fierce warrior who destroyed your village and killed your mother. Along the way you meet many characters who will help you not only find Lupa-Lipin, but also give you the means to tackle the four World Eaters, save (or let die) the Tree of Life, and unite (or divide) the tribes.
You will notice that you don’t necessarily have to take the “good” path in Biomutant. In fact, there is an aura system where each important choice you make either grants you light aura or dark aura. Almost always you are given the option to help or hurt others. Want to destroy all the tribes and force them to your will, showing no mercy? Have at it. Would you rather unite the tribes and allow them to avoid a fight? You can do that to.
Your aura is more than just a morale system, it also allows you to unlock special abilities based on your light and dark aura points. Make only light choices and you cannot unlock every ability, same for dark. It is a balancing act, or a reason to replay the game making the opposite choices on your second run through.
After a short, linear beginning, you are thrust into a large open world with little more than a guide marker to follow. You are welcome to explore, find new villages, scour remains for new items, and to unlock side missions. I preferred to tackle a few main missions in a row, unlocking various fast travel points, before then going back and completing any side missions I may have stumbled upon. While it is completely possible to ignore side missions, I found the extra XP and items I found during them or while just aimlessly exploring greatly helped throughout my playthrough. One off the beaten track cave I found ultimately led to my favorite weapon of the game, which I used for the rest of my playthrough. I never would have found it if I had only stuck to the main missions.
Assisting you on your missions is an Automaton, a small mechanical creature that rides on your back, and can transform into a hang glider, set up a turret, boost your attack strength, or provide you with extra health during particularly grueling encounters. There is also a narrator that spends the game translating the speech of the characters you encounter, giving details about relics found, and explaining tidbits of the past.
As you progress bits and pieces of your back story will be shown. Stumbling into areas you grew up in or meeting characters in the wild may trigger playable memories, sometimes which will lead to unlocks in the present day for your Automaton.
While the Narrator, in theory, is a nice addition – it just never stops talking, often repeating itself or saying phrases that make no sense compared to the actions currently occurring on screen. I do believe there is an option to lower the amount of time the Narrator spends speaking, but the game did not mention that option until near the end of my playthrough.
Another area I think the narration hurts is with the translation of the NPCs dialogue. The inability of the NPCs to speak to you in their own voice really kills off their personality, leaving everybody you encounter to feel essentially identical. Sure, they may say a few different things, but I cannot remember a single character that stuck out. Each character being able to speak and show a distinctive personality would have gone a long way toward giving the game a greater sense of personality, especially since your character never says a word out loud. The only voice you ever hear speak in an understandable language is the narrator. It gets rather boring after a while and during long stretches of play sucks a bit of life out of the proceedings.
Combat and customization are where Biomutant shines. The combat during random encounters feels smooth, crafting weapons from the various items you find is immensely enjoyable, and finding new gear is always exciting.
Transition from exploration to combat flows well and fights are quick and hectic. One moment you may be exploring an abandoned refinery and then next you are in a fight with five mutant/animal hybrids. After quickly dispatching the enemies you’ll be thrust right back into exploration without missing a beat. With the amount of combat in this game, it could have easily gotten boring, but thanks to multiple psi-abilities, perks, skills, and weapon types most players will remain invested throughout the lengthy campaign.
Fighting and completing quests will grant you XP, which eventually leads to a level up. With each new level you reach you will gain points which can be used to upgrade various attributes and to learn new skills or upgrade your resistances. Points can be used to upgrade your Vitality, Strength, Intellect, Charisma, Agility, or Luck. Additionally, you can use your points to upgrade your Wung-Fu skills or perks. Wung-Fu skills include close combat, ranged combat, basic melee, basic ranged, maneuvers, and super Wung-Fu. Each Wung-Fu skill is broken down more specifically, such as Close Combat being further broken down into unarmed, one-handed slash, dual handed melee, two-handed slash, etc. Perks include increasing your luck, chance to persuade, ki energy replenishment, more ammo for ranged weapons, etc.
Points for mutations are found throughout the world and can be used to upgrade your resistance to heat, cold, radiation, and biohazard or to unlock special moves. Many areas you encounter in the game cannot be explored without the right resistances or equipment, so it is beneficial to make sure you have as much resistance as possible if you plan to explore every area or tackle every side mission. Psi-power points are found by meditating at alters and can be used to unlock special abilities, such as a dash which unleashes a burst of fire or even the ability to levitate, which can be bound to specific buttons for quick access. Use of these special skills requires ki, which drains quickly but builds back up over time.
Aside from the skills and combat abilities you can learn via points, there are also hundreds of weapon parts you can find and assemble. Crafting can be done through the menu and allows you to choose your weapons handle, base, modifications, and other specifics with each addition increasing the damage output or altering the damage type. You can craft both melee combat weapons and ranged weapons, allowing for a wide variety of attack options during fights. Thankfully, swapping between weapons is as easy as pulling up a radial dial or hitting the left and right triggers to switch between melee or ranged.
Speaking of the radial dial, there is also a radial dial for health or improvement items and another for modes of transportation. These are accessed by simply holding down a directional button. In my playthrough holding down Left opened the melee weapon selection wheel, right opened ranged weapons, up opened health items, and down opened transportation.
Crafting is not limited to weapons and can be used to modify equipment found as well. You can attach add-ons for additional defense. While you cannot outright create your own wearable items, you can tinker with them enough to upgrade an item you like visually but may not necessarily compete with other items in terms of protection. Villages have upgrade benches where you can work on both weapons and clothing and modify the quality and materials of these items using scrap to make them stronger.
If you are low on the items needed to upgrade you can scrap items in your inventory that you do not plan to use or you can purchase items via the various vendors found throughout the game. Money is hard to come by though, so your best bet is normally scrapping anything you do not see yourself using or selling them to a vendor for additional funds. If you have no interest in crafting then you can outright purchase new weapons and armor from vendors, although I did not purchase a single item during my run through. Instead I opted to only use what I found during exploration to survive.
Progressing in the story will unlock multiple modes of transportation including animals you can ride similar to a horse, boats, mechs, and a hand with rockets – yes, it is as weird and cool as it sounds. Most items will spawn on command, although sometimes the terrain or area may limit what you can call. Also, you do not have access to any of these items at the start of your journey. They must be unlocked in game via missions or exploration.
Exploration is fun, although many areas do begin to blend as there is little distinction between buildings when they have been left to rot for hundreds of years. Exploration is made simple by a helpful check list which will appear in the top left of your screen upon entering a new area that explains what loot can be found and will also tell you when an area is completed. Be aware that completion of an area only means that the best items have been found, not that every small item has.
In the wild you will encounter totem poles which can be destroyed for crafting items, as well as puzzles which can be completed to open new areas or restore electricity to a building, etc. These puzzles are simple and normally require lining up a set of dials or knobs on old world equipment – such as a record player, globe, breaker box, or TV – within a set number of moves.
While I can praise the graphics, fights, and exploration for the most part – there are areas where Biomutant stumbles.
The boss fights against the World Eaters were a point of irritation for me as they were battles against giant colossus which essentially whittle down to a gimmick. After spending so many hours upgrading my character, crafting weapons, and learning abilities I wanted to see how my character could handle the World Eaters in a one on one fight – instead you are almost always forced to use a random contraption which you spent the previous missions creating for one of the NPC characters.
Each World Eater is essentially hidden behind completing multiple missions for a character to build a new weapon, which will then be used to reach the boss and challenge them. While the weapons themselves are normally fun to use and double as transportation options, I wanted to be able to hop off and just fight instead of being bound by the item’s limitations.
While disappointing, the World Eater boss fights make up a small percentage of your time with the game, so I suppose it is only a minor gripe in the scheme of things.
Biomutant is long if you have the patience to tackle all the available side missions. Otherwise, I would say the game is 10 or 12 hours in length. I spent about 20 to 25 hours during my playthrough and that was with a mixture of exploration, tackling all the main quests, and a large chunk of side missions – but I still had nearly 60 side missions left upon seeing the end screen. Players who wish to 100% the game are more than likely looking at around 50 hours.
Upon completion you are given the option to begin a New Game + playthrough, where you will retain all your gear and character progression, and skip the beginning missions and begin the story with the mission where you ally with a tribe. Be forewarned that once you hit the credits you cannot hop back into the world to continue playing, so complete all side quests first before tackling the final boss or at least create a new save so you can beat the game and then reload and continue on with side missions.
I greatly enjoyed Biomutant but was disappointed at some of the gimmicky boss fights and lack of personality for the NPCs. I’d also be remiss if I did not mention that I had encountered several issues with the game crashing my PS5 at first and dialogue repeating itself, but it now seems that nearly all the performance issues have since been fixed via patches before release.
Approach Biomutant with an open mind. It is a great game with fun combat, enjoyable crafting, tons of loot to find, and a large world to explore. Despite minor grievances, I had a blast exploring the ruins of Earth.