The market for shooter games seem to have been taking on a softer face recently. Gigantic recently burst on the scene with bright, cartoony graphics, Splatoon 2 has put a colorful coat of paint over the competitive scene, and Overwatch all but celebrates a loss, awarding experience points and softening the blow. Just as the world seems to be turning into a brighter, happier place, PWND by Skydance Interactive bursts onto the scene with a slogan of “Death is temporary, but humiliation is forever!” We got a look at this fast-paced, high-mobility shooter in all its high-adrenaline glory at San Diego Comic-Con.
PWND is a team arena shooter with a rather high barrier to entry. This is not a game for beginners; Skydance aims to attract players who have already cut their teeth in first-person shooters and are looking for more of a challenge. Players choose between four different heroes and duke it out in complex arenas with a veritable arsenal of weapons, aiming to reduce the hit points of their opponents to zero… as that’s when the fun begins.
Instead of fading away for a respawn, characters who have lost all their HP enter a vulnerable state in which they can be PWND. PWNs are hilarious and degrading moves which you execute on your opponent, including using their body as a surfboard, gyrating over their wounded bodies, and all manner of highly macho and vaguely sexual gestures designed to mortify. Successfully PWN’ing your opponent earns you extra points, but executing a PWN leaves your character vulnerable. Your unsportsmanlike celebration leaves you so busy thrusting over your downed opponent that you become an easy target for your enemies, and you will have to dance for a certain amount of time in order to successfully complete the PWN. This vulnerability sometimes results in an entire pile of PWNage, with corpses stacked one atop the other, the last character standing thrusting at the air while perched atop their battered bodies.
Fans settled into gaming stations set up at the Hard Rock Cafe, across from the San Diego Convention Center, to try out the game, test their skills, and humiliate their friends. The most popular characters, as one might expect, were Victor “SPLICE” Guerrero and Hank “The Humiliator” Harris, two overly macho male characters, though the lone female character, Risa “The Pwnisher” Ito, had a decent showing. After watching several rounds, I maintain that you do not know true humiliation until you’ve had a only vaguely humanoid robot gyrating over your prone body. The action is quick and brutal, the physics are just loose enough to keep things interesting, and while taunts and PWNs are crude, they’re vaguely rather than overtly sexual, and generally hilarious… unless they’re being performed on you, of course.
The Skydance team has been working on PWND on and off for seven or eight years. A passion project, the team worked on it whenever they could, their love for this high velocity rocket shooter keeping the game alive. On July 17th, PWND moved out of apha testing and is now available on PC everywhere, and at a special sale price, via the Steam Store. It’s a PWN or be PWND world, are you ready to get your taunt on?