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Banishers Ghosts of New Eden preview - spectral skills, gnarly kills

Developer DON'T NOD puts The Loadout against truly eerie foes in Banishers Ghosts of New Eden, an action RPG elevated by a unique world to explore.

Banishers Ghosts of New Eden preview gamescom gameplay

Following the release of Immortals of Aveum and Ghostwire Tokyo, you might be burned out on magical-themed action RPG titles. Banishers Ghosts of New Eden luckily offers a refreshing, singular take on the genre as Vampyr developer DON’T NOD sits me down to sink my teeth into it at Gamescom. Here’s what I made of the game during my Banishers Ghost of Eden preview.

My slice of the game is around two hours into the game, according to a representative for publisher Focus Entertainment. I quickly become acquainted with Red mac Raith and Antea Duarte, the game’s two co-protagonists. Set in the 1600s, Red and Antea are an efficient ghost hunting duo searching New Eden, a haunted community with numerous secrets beneath the surface. However, their last mission didn’t go as planned and Antea now walks among the dead too. Whether they can bring her back to the mortal realm plagues Red’s mind, but they’ll be solving other mysteries before they can find a definitive answer.

That brings me to Thickskin Newsmith. She doesn’t have any patience or desire for small talk, but despite her cold demeanor, my skills are needed to rid the forest of a creature causing chaos for the local camp residents. Newsmith thinks it is only a wolf, though. We both have no idea of the terror yet to come. Off the bat, I’m captivated by Russ Bain (Red) and Amaka Okafor’s (Antea) dynamic. While Okafor is the most talkative of the duo in this preview, my time with them over the course of an hour is enough to get me invested in their relationship.

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DON’T NOD is no stranger to crafting odd scenarios, and having to deal with the grief of a loved one, though she is still present in some form, is handled with an intimate touch. Other characters can’t see Antea either, making her comments and interplay with Red from the afterlife all the more intriguing. Listening to dialogue is important, as the quest to bring Antea back can be affected by Red’s decisions. A choice near the end of the preview asks me to spare or sacrifice a character, with either decision splitting off into new story paths.

Conversely, Antea provides a different perspective on gameplay that Red is unable to achieve. I can switch between either character in an instant, gaining access to Antea’s supernatural abilities. They come in use immediately as I descend in the darkest depths of the forest, coming across a ghoul infested mine. I unleash a volatile energy wave on incoming attacks from these skeletons, rupturing their bones into nothing more than ash. If that doesn’t do the trick, swapping back to Red is where combat gets down to the grittiness. Equipped with a sabre and a flintlock rifle, the two methods of fighting are stitched together with silky smooth responses, making it easy to switch up my attacks.

Mashing the shoulder buttons for heavy and light attacks isn’t going to me or Antea get far. Instead, I’m opening up opportunities to deal a gut-busting flintlock shot, all the while charging Red’s banishing ability in the process. Once it’s ready, I purge the evil entity lurking inside my foes, leaving them weak to a finishing blow. Fans of God of War Ragnarök and Star Wars Jedi Survivor won’t find it a challenge to get right into Banishers’ combat, and the similarities don’t end there either.

Like the former, Red and Antea can both be upgraded with different armaments and skill upgrades. The Red in my preview was only level 7, so his abilities were fairly basic at this point. I pooled what little points I had into his rifle handling, which grants a conditional buff for my health.

Banishers is told linearly, but the game’s world design doesn’t necessarily appeal to that nature. Areas are open for exploration like Ragnarök or The Last of Us, meaning that there are plenty of lore tidbits to find and upgrade materials too. Antea hints there could be something hidden away, but it isn’t done in an overbearing manner – it’s just a passing comment to take into consideration. Red can only get so far on foot, so using Antea’s warp ability to pass through previously unseen portals is crucial for some light puzzle work.

Banishers Ghosts of New Eden preview gameplay gamescom

Familiar aspects from other games might be here, but DON’T NOD really sets Banishers apart thanks to the time period it inhabits. The developer cites The Revenant as a key inspiration, but influences from Robert Eggers’ The Witch are abundant (an observation that executive producer Karim Benfares appreciates during post-preview chat). It is a setting you don’t really see that often in games, and I’m surprised that Assassin’s Creed hasn’t already tapped into this. Though, the Assassin’s Creed Hex release date may change that.

The world is bewitching, and I want to spend more time strolling through the chilling forest fog or the muddy tracks into danger. Banishers’ New England setting plays with light and shadows to a beautiful degree, encapsulating both the idyllic and sinister qualities that New Eden has. It takes the main boss fight of the preview up a few notches, adding an extra layer of monstrous fear as The Beast stares Red down. Boss designs hone in on an aesthetic more aligned with The Witcher, rather than what you’d find in a game like Elden Ring.

DON’T NOD makes The Beast seem like a creature that could only be born from word of mouth among the game’s villagers, possibly spreading its existence around like a fairy tale. The Beast isn’t exactly the challenge I imagined it would be at first, but as this is an early game boss, I’m sure there are far more devastating enemies waiting to tear me apart. Regardless, the encounter is still fun, and taking the fight up close affirms how great Banishers’ sword and gun-play is in this build of the game.

Banishers Ghosts of New Eden feels like a sleeper hit ready to emerge amid the roster of upcoming PS5 games and upcoming Xbox games. I’m fascinated to see what other haunts and spectres New Eden has in the shadows, as well as developing the bond between Red and Antea across their journey. When the Banishers Ghosts of New Eden release date arrives in November, I won’t be afraid of no ghost.

Keep your eyes peeled for more previews, interviews, and coverage of Gamescom from The Loadout over the coming days.