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Joyful new indie game makes Diablo’s worst bit fun, out now on Steam

Backpack Battles makes inventory management fun as you attempt to arrange powerful items to defeat your foes, and it’s surging on Steam.

Backpack Battles hits early access, and it's already blowing up on Steam - A brown-haired girl with green eyes and large animal ears stands next to a small pig.

Ever since the early days of Diablo, inventory management has been one of those frustrating aspects of gaming that you just have to deal with. It’s been a constant for many years, through many RPGs including Fallout, Skyrim, and of course Baldur’s Gate 3. Resident Evil 4 was a high point, with its particular brand of briefcase Tetris, but now a delightful new indie game called Backpack Battles has turned the strife of sorting your stuff into a frantic multiplayer game in the style of TFT and Super Auto Pets, and it’s already blowing up on Steam at launch.

Could Backpack Battles follow the likes of Balatro, Helldivers 2, Palworld, Deep Rock Galactic Survivor, and Last Epoch to become the next surprise Steam hit of 2024? It’s certainly off to a great start. The multiplayer indie game launched just today, Friday March 8, and it’s already reached a first-day peak of more than 11,000 players.

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That’s a huge response for developer PlayWithFurcifer, which has been working on the game in a public form for around seven months. “We are now at the point of adding the final content needed to finish the game and want to have active community involvement in these steps as well.” It says it expects the early access period to last for “around three to six months.”

So what exactly is Backpack Battles? Simply put, it’s a game about building the best pack of gear you possibly can. You pick from four classes at launch – the Berserker, Ranger, Reaper, and Pyromancer – each of which offers five subclasses that they can branch into as a match develops. Your goal is to collect and craft items, weapons, potions, critters, and more that you must sort into an ever-expanding backpack, which is then used to take on your opponents in this auto-battling strategy game.

Backpack Battles player count - Graphic from SteamDB showing a 24-hour peak of 11,088 players.

Following the game’s early access launch, its developer has already laid out a roadmap for what it hopes to achieve in the run up to the full 1.0 release. First on the task list is balancing and polish for its two newest classes, which are expected to have a few kinks to rub out. The team also wants to build the option for private lobbies to let you challenge your friends, and work on the ranking system for public matchmaking.

The new combat log has already proven very popular, but PlayWithFurcifer has plans to further improve its functionality, and also to introduce statistics for all of the items to show you how often you’ve bought items and how they’ve performed in your loadout. It’s also planning to introduce more outfits for the characters to choose from, along with “many additional unique items.” The team says it has “lots of ideas already” for these.

The full 1.0 launch, when it comes, will see the arrival of the fifth class, the Adventurer. This is planned to be a distinctive class that ignores typical boundaries and starts each round with random items, although the team says this experimental new class is very much in the concept phase and as such remains subject to change.

Backpack Battles early access roadmap - Details on the future plans for the newly released multiplayer indie game.

Backpack Battles is out now on Steam. There’s a 10% discount at launch that lasts until Friday March 22, so expect to pay $11.69/£9.89 if you buy it now, or $12.99/£10.99 afterwards. There’s also a free Steam demo available from the store page, so you can even try it out for yourself first if you’re still not sure.

After that, be sure to take a look at the best puzzle games for plenty more head-scratching conundrums, or test yourself against the gamers of the world with the best multiplayer games to play in 2024.

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