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Phantom Fury preview - the old ways are often the best

3D Realms and Slipgate Ironworks takes The Loadout on an explosive road trip in Phantom Fury, a surprisingly charming FPS that harkens back to simpler times.

Phantom Fury preview gamescom

Following the thrills and blood spills of Bombshell and Ion Fury before it, Phantom Fury is a standalone story for FPS heroine Shelly ‘Bombshell’ Harrison. This time around developer Slipgate Ironworks leaves behind the cityscapes and futuristic vistas of its predecessor in my Phantom Fury preview, instead bringing the action to the American outback. With plenty of grunts and guns, of course.

Jumping head first into Phantom Fury seems intimidating at first – from a lore perspective that is. Though it isn’t necessarily a follow-up Bombshell, this universe requires a bit of catch-up to fully understand its wonderfully bizarre nature. Nevertheless, the main thing to know is that Phantom Fury is a road-trip shooter aiming to channel the spirit of FPS pioneers like Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. Shelly is going on a whistlestop tour of locations like Albuquerque, abandoned labs in Los Alamos, and eventually the cold streets of Chicago.

I’m fighting my way to a crusty motel in Albuquerque, encountering waves of pissed off heavily armed militia. The charm of Phantom Fury is how it fully wears its Doom-influences. I feel like I’m peering through a time portal, back to the era of FPS shooters which didn’t have me concerned about slide-cancelling or trying to avoid the sweatiest grinders out there. All I need to do is point and shoot, all while having a blast doing it.

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Producer Philip Nymann talks me through the arsenal of weapons to expect in Phantom Fury, enthusiastically exclaiming that I can expect “over 20 different weapons” to be found in the full game. I’ve got a pistol, shotgun, and some comically large grenades to deal damage with.

The shotgun blasts away goons with a hulking impact, becoming my go-to weapon for the preview. Some weapons are equipped with alt-fire modes, like the highly addictive electricity attack from the melee-focused baton. Pistols, at the least default firearm Shelly wields, lack punch and don’t quite feel as satisfying in comparison to everything else Phantom Fury encourages me to use. Even chucking a wooden crate oddly feels more satisfying, and more fun, to use.

Running and gunning further into the outback uncovers 3D Realms’ past with Duke Nukem. I’m a half-cybernetic mercenary shooting my way through a cheap motel, all to help an old man start his truck. Phantom Fury gleefully knows how ridiculous it is, lacing its environment with hilarious magazines, computer terminals, and other trinkets to discover. That’s where Phantom Fury’s superb amount of hidden details spring to life too.

Phantom Fury gamescom preview gameplay

Interacting with a seemingly endless collection of objects takes me back to those days of playing the first Max Payne game – a time to which 3D Realms appears to still pay its dues. I spent plenty time of messing around trying to press every TV, every vending machine, every radio, and anything else I could find in the Remedy Entertainment and 3D Realms collaboration. Phantom Fury displays the same levels of meticulous attention underneath its old-school aesthetic.

Later sequences in the game are set to include dogfights and vehicular action, frenetic firefights, and even richer locations. The fact that even a motel and its surrounding junkyard can pack in so much to find, and just as much action to match signals an excellent time ahead when the Phantom Fury release date arrives. The preview’s climatic battle, in a motel car park of all places, takes the action into territory where I couldn’t stop laughing out of joy.

That’s also because I was now wielding a revolver that could deploy a Red Dead Redemption-style Dead Eye ability to truly demolish enemies.  Many games have tried to replicate the popular Rockstar mechanic over the years – even Star Wars Jedi Survivor gave it a go. Yet, Phantom Fury is one of the closest attempts yet to feel as satisfying.

Phantom Fury is teeing itself up to be a classic slice of FPS goodness, which is exactly what I need after seeing genre giants stagnate as of late. Sometimes, the old ways are the best.

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