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The First Descendant preview: A free-to-play looter-shooter to keep on your radar

If you’re into looter-shooters you’re probably familiar with NEXON Games’ The First Descendant, which is launching next week. If not, you probably ought to keep it on your radar, as it certainly seems interesting after spending some time with it.

Free-to-play, The First Descendant will be available across PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC from 2nd July. Even better, it will support cross-play and cross-progression, so you’ll be able to move and play across numerous platforms while keeping all of your valuable progress.

Being free-to-play, however, you’ll find access to the game’s content fairly limited when you start. The First Descendant features many playable characters, known as Descendants, each with their own unique appearance and skills. Most of these will need to be unlocked via play, or purchased if you want to gain access to them early.

The First Descendant body
Image: NEXON Games

But that’s not to say that The First Descendant is stingy. You can have plenty of fun with the starting characters, including making your way through what seems to be an entertaining campaign, unlocking new battlefields to visit and complete missions in as you go. And of course, you don’t have to go it alone: while you can play solo if you wish, online co-op is also available, allowed you to fight alongside others.

Related: The best loot-based games on PS5

The action itself is fast-paced, though also rather generic. Playing from a third-person perspective, you’ll explore varied environments, often negotiating platforms via jumping or using your nifty grappling hook. When it comes to combat, you have three weapons equipped that you can make use of, as well as a melee attack, and numerous skills that operate with cooldowns.

Depending on the character you choose, these skills could be elemental in nature, bringing a strategic aspect to the game. Also important is employing the right weapon for the task at hand. Your grappling hook can come in useful when fighting gargantuan enemies, too: target a weak point and you can quickly dash and grab onto it.

The First Descendant body 2
Image: NEXON Games

As you’d expect of a looter-shooter, as you make your way through the game’s campaign and complete other content, you’ll acquire various parts you can equip to enhance your abilities. New weapons can also be acquired, and the ones you own can be modified. Having only spent a relatively short amount of time with the game so far, however, it’s hard to get a good picture of the game’s itemisation and how captivating it will be.

One thing we will be intrigued to see when The First Descendant launches is what performance is like. The PS5 preview build we had access to wasn’t all that impressive, with the framerate struggling even on balanced mode. There’s a range of settings to tinker with, however, and even frame generation which certainly seems to help.

We’re not sure the world was crying out for another free to play looter shooter, but we’ll give The First Descendant a chance when it launches on 2nd July. It looks nice, its story seems interesting, and we’re keen to see if it manages to hook us with its loot system. The fact that it’s free to play means the only thing we’ve got to lose is our time, but with moment-to-moment action that’s entertaining at the least, that’s not much of a worry.

The First Descendant launches 2nd July on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.

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