I will confess I’m not an especially big fan of action games, because I’m not Very Good At Them haha classic games journalist etc. Still, knowing that my friends enjoy this game and the general hype surrounding it, I put in some time and got some help to fill in the blanks for Punishing Gray Raven. Android users would be in the last stages of the closed beta at the time of writing, with iOS users supposed to be able to join “soon”. Let’s get right into it.
Both the 3D models and use of 2D sprites here and there are great, which would come as no surprise to people who’ve been watching out for this game. With it being an action RPG, the flow of movement and attacks is incredibly smooth. Attacks have that certain weight to them, accompanied by appropriate sound effects. It can get a tad hectic, but enemy attacks will always be telegraphed by a warning red light to help you dodge: be it for their melee attacks, or for area of effect ones. When admiring your units, the clothes go swish, woo!
I feel that the stages can look on the flat side, but that’s probably better than garish backgrounds that distract you from noticing what’s important. The UI is mostly clean and easy to follow, if on the small side with regards to text size. The text log and scroll speed are also on the funky side in the beta, skipping over words or not scrolling correctly.
On screen, you have the usual virtual joystick, a dodge button, your auto attacks and colour-coded icons for your skills. It would be nice to have more options to adjust things like button size, as I’ve hit the dodge button instead of attacking more times than I care to count. I will admit this can be partially attributed to my Bad At Game skillset, but the options won’t hurt anyone.
Basically, head into combat stage, pew pew and / or dodge where necessary, winner is you. As you fight, different coloured Pings will fire off different skills. The more of the same coloured Pings you’ve got chained together, the more powerful the skill is. There’s skill variety accordingly to the class of your unit, and what weapon they wield. With up to three characters to a team, swapping in someone else – on short cooldown – also can trigger on-swap effects. If you’re able to do frame perfect dodges, you enter this “Matrix” mode where things briefly slow down, so you can hammer down on your foes.
In your squad, you’ll have your leader in the middle, who has a leader skill to affect the team. You can make a team consisting of the same character, with their alternate versions. There are missions where the usual action takes a break, instead having like a stealth mission, for example. I find these a bit on the weaker side, as the game doesn’t feel made for it, even as it serves to add to the story.
- Base levels of units, also known as Constructs. They can gain EXP in battle, and are capped to your current Commandant level besides their own level cap
- Promotion: Starting from Private level, you can promote your units up the ranks to give them more stats, dependent on hitting certainr equirements
- Evolving: Shards from either the gacha (duplicates) or purchasable from the Phantom Pain Cage shop increases their ranks. Stats here are mostly minor flat or percentage based increments
- Skills: Pretty self-explanatory. Level these up with Skill Points, which are shared across characters
- Weapons: Weapons go up to 6-star in rarity, with varying passive effects. When they hit their base level cap, you can Overclock them that resets their level to 1. Weapons may also have Resonance skills with their respective units wielding them
- Consciousness: Gear sets, which can only be equipped in their respective numbered slot. Equipping a certain number of the same Consciousness gives a set bonus. Like weapons, these can also be Overclocked at their level caps and resets to 1
Story progression is important, as features will gradually open up to you the more you play. On one hand, I understand why they do this, but on the other, it can feel really slow if you’re not a very active player for whatever reason. There’s the main story, then “hidden” mode for extra lore and stages, which also unlocks more story stages and so forth. In my convalescence, I haven’t even unlocked the Dorm, much less so many more things I’ve yet to fiddle around with. Co-op mode isn’t open at the time of writing either.
There is an auto-mode, but it’s limited to only the story stages, and you don’t get 100% of the drops. I understand why this is – heck, I play Genshin – but if you wanted a certain degree of automation for material stages, you’re out of luck here.
Standard mission completion and achievements are also available. Besides all the Stats TM for your units, you can give them stuff and raise affection with them, with stories and voice lines that gradually unlock. You can give them outfits too. Nothing too unusual.
Here’s the important one.
When it comes to Constructs, you’re guaranteed an A-rank or above Construct every 10 attempts, while you’re guaranteed an S-rank Construct every 60 attempts. When you’re given 30 currency per first clear of a story stage, and you need 2500 for gacha, the guarantee is extremely welcome – though it won’t necessarily give you the unit you want. The rate-up character will be given a 70% rate for the S-rank chance, at the very least.
Including your guaranteed drop, your chances for an S-rank Construct is 1.90%, while the base drop is 0.5%. These odds are not very appealing. A 6-star weapon has a base rate of 5%, though for focus weapons it’s at 4%. A 6-star weapon is guaranteed for every 30 attempts, with 80% chance in a focus gacha. These odds are not the most appealing.
It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to the gacha. Should nothing change, a completely F2P player has the potential to obtain every S-rank Construct as the current release schedule is set for 3 months for every new one, even if you don’t grab their signature weapon with. This economy is pretty reassuring, all things considered, though the base rate is still something to keep in mind.
The story, much like the game, will start out slow. I do wonder a lot of stuff, though right now, nothing has especially gotten my attention. I definitely like its aesthetics because who doesn’t like Lee’s cool coat and double pistols? It’s not something I see myself playing a lot, but you guys can hopefully get that global release soon and go enjoy yourselves.