Forget a story-driven campaign full of expansive levels: Warstride Challenges instead wants to simply offer you lots of repeatable bite-sized challenges. With speed-running the main focus here, it makes for one hell of an enjoyable time.
After spending just over a year in Steam Early Access, Warstride Challenges is now ready for is full release. And not just on PC, either – it’s making its debut on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles. Jump into the title and you’ll find that it offers something a little bit different, challenges players to push themselves to the limit across a huge number of stages, most taking mere seconds to complete. Needless to say, this isn’t the game for those who need a strong narrative to keep them invested in a game. But those who simply need a solid gameplay hook will love it.
Each stage in Warstride Challenges asks you to reach its exit as fast as possible. But it’s not as simple as just making a beeline for it. Along the way, you also need to kill all enemies, and more complications are thrown into the mix as you progress. The first stage, for example, is pretty much a single corridor with one enemy to kill. Easy stuff. By the end of the game’s first of three acts, however, the stages have become much more expansive, tasking you with making your way through rooms and corridors and hitting the occasional switch to open up a door. Throw in an ever-expanding arsenal, and you have a game that keeps you on your toes.
Ultimately, Warstride Challenges is all about developing your first-person shooter skills to be faster, smarter and more accurate. Jumping is faster than running, so making effective use of being airborne is a must, as well as skillfully stringing together other abilities such as sliding and eventually even making use of a grappling hook. With various medals being awarded depending on your speed, there’s always an impetus to do better, and it’s fun seeing the results of your hard work. In no time at all you start to feel like a first-person shooter master, moving quickly between rooms and corridors, locating and eradicating enemies and homing in on the exit.
Of course, there’s an element of trial and error involved, especially in some stages. While most are linear, for example, some offer more freedom, simply tasking you with killing a number of enemies in a set amount of time. Thankfully, most of them are located near exploding barrels you can use to your advantage, but it might take one or two attempts to find the best route if you want to get the top grade. That’s part of the fun, though. Sometimes it pays to experiment if a stage offers up a variety of weapons or multiple routes.
With speed and accuracy being key here, you might be wondering how the Warstride Challenges experience translates to console. After all, playing a first-person shooter with a controller isn’t something done at a high level. The good news is that yes, while it’s harder and slower to accurately aim with a controller on console, work has been done to make sure it doesn’t hamstring players. For one, the control scheme is nicely adapted to a controller, and two, there’s just enough auto aim to make shooting your enemies a cinch while still making you feel in control.
It also helps that players have access to slo-mo. With just the push of a button you can slow down time, making it easier to line up that pivotal shot, or quickly locate enemies around you that you might have missed. It’s a game-changer. You can’t rely on it too much though; slo-mo can only be activated for a set amount of time in each stage, so it’s important to know when to employ it.
All of the game’s three acts have their own theme, offering some variety when it comes to scenery. As as you complete stages and obtain medals, alternative, harder versions of previous stages are made available, some of them offering a challenge that feels entirely new. In addition to that there are bonus stages to unlock, too, as well as an editor that allows players to create and share their own challenges. Players are also likely to be drawn back time and time again thanks to the game’s speed-running aspect with global leaderboards really ramping up the competition. What’s really neat is that you can select players to be your nemeses, with their ghosts appearing in stages to make it easier to measure your performance.
We loved it when we tried it in Early Access, and we still love it now: Warstride Challenges is a bit of a gem. This is a thrilling, fast-paced first-person shooter that’s rewarding to play and has that “just one more go” factor that keeps you playing until the early hours of the morning. Whether you’re simply a fan of the genre and want something that offers quick bursts of fun or are into speed-running, you’d be wise to consider this a must-have.