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Fragpunk is a colorful new FPS with a Slay the Spire twist

Inspired by esports games like Valorant and Counter-Strike 2, this new FPS puts a Slay the Spire style twist on the genre, and it’s awesome.

Fragpunk is a colorful new FPS with a Slay the Spire twist: A woman with pink and green split-dyed hair and one red, one blue eye looks menacingly into the camera on a colorful purple background

My Summer Game Fest was filled with glimpses of some of the biggest games of this year. Dragon Age: The Veilguard, Phantom Blade Zero, Assassin’s Creed: Shadows – the list goes on. Yet, despite seeing all of these virtual titans, one of my favorite experiences was with a much smaller title. Created by Bad Guitar Studio and published by NetEase, Fragpunk is a 5v5 FPS that, at first glance, looks pretty similar to Riot Games’ Valorant. Upon further inspection, however, it’s got a unique twist that I absolutely love.

You see, while Fragpunk’s core gameplay is similar to traditional FPS games like Counter-Strike 2 and the aforementioned Valorant, before you drop into the match you’re presented with a trio of cards that modify each round. From here, you choose your respective poisons, as well as your character and loadout, and launch into your personally tailored map. But beware: the enemy is doing the exact same thing, and they’ll be picking out the best cards, too.

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I team up with producer and creative director Xin Chang and lock in Broker, a beautifully designed brawler with a mess of pink dreadlocks and huge, leaf-shaped earrings. We’re quick to jump into the game, with Chang showing me the basics before we begin altering the world around us. “I’m a very big fan of competitive games and roguelike games,” he tells me. “I’ve been trying to add the variety, randomness, and suspense of roguelikes to the FPS genre.”

After getting my head popped during our first attacking round, I feel like I’m starting to get used to Fragpunk. A few more runs and I’m dropping the AI enemies and defending Chang as he plants the converter – my rusty Valorant senses are starting to come online. When we enter our third round, however, I’m given a card that changes the very fabric of the game itself.

Fragpunk is a colorful new FPS with a Slay the Spire twist: A character in a videogame snaps a virtual card in half standing in front of a temple-like structure

In the previous rounds, the map was drenched in sunshine, but this specific modifier engulfs it in a snowstorm. The ground is caked in a thick layer of ice, allowing me to slide at speed. Snow whips around me as I attempt to scope out the perfect angle, obscuring my vision and forcing me to take extra care.

While I pulled the frost-focused card, others might summon the tempest and, in turn, force you to fight through sheets of torrential rain, or obscure everything in dense fog. I’ve never seen anything quite like them in an FPS before, and that’s why they stand out as my absolute favorites. Well, maybe; there’s also Turtleback, which gives you an adorable little backpack shaped like a turtle that soaks bullets. Is it as impactful as changing the environment? No. Is it cute? Yes, yes it is.

Fragpunk is a colorful new FPS with a Slay the Spire twist: Different images of the same map in FragPunk with different weather situations, including snow, sun, and rain

One of the issues I have with Valorant is that, while the maps change, the core gameplay remains the same. There’s no weather changes or transitions from day to night – in fact, it never crossed my mind as something doable.

Fragpunk’s universe feels more dynamic as a result, forcing you to re-evaluate your strategies. Oftentimes you won’t even know if the map’s been altered until you’re in the game itself (your enemies get these cards too, after all), and that forces you to pivot and think on your feet. Where the vast majority of online FPS games can fall into familiarity, Fragpunk adds an extra layer of depth to what is already heavily strategic gameplay.

But I have experience with Valorant, Counter-Strike, and Overwatch, meaning I can adapt better to Fragpunk’s roguelike elements than a new player. Chang, however, reassures me that the blend of shooter and Slay the Spire-style card mechanics will “allow players of all skills to enjoy playing this game; not just those players who have top-notch marksmanship.

“They don’t have to rely on gunplay; they can win the game by using a variety of strategies. People can enjoy playing or watching [Fragpunk] regardless of the skills they have.”

Fragpunk is a colorful new FPS with a Slay the Spire twist: A player looking down the barrel of a gun shooting another, their body erupting into a black mask with an evil grinning face

I’ve been itching to play Fragpunk ever since my brief trial at Summer Game Fest, and it turns out you can now take it for a spin, too. The all-new Fragpunk closed beta test begins today, Thursday June 27, and runs until Monday, July 1. Note that this is a North American beta. You can sign up via the game’s official website or on Steam.

We have a list of all the best multiplayer games to check out once the beta wraps. Alternatively, if you know you won’t be able to resist insta-locking Jett, we have a rundown of all the best Valorant crosshair codes, letting you channel your inner Jake ‘Boaster’ Howlett.

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