Hyenas actually looks like a pretty fun shooter – if you can get over Sega’s autoerotic love-in


Total War, Alien: Isolation, Hyenas – three games that could not be further apart in tone if they tried. Yet, that’s Creative Assembly for you: a British institution known for its quality and prestige, that came out of nowhere (well, not quite nowhere) earlier this year to unveil Hyenas – a multiplayer, multi-team heist shooter that takes great joy in big explosions, pop culture references, and zero-g movement to deliver a game unlike anything the studio has put out before.

In a hands-off presentation at Gamescom, I was shown a very bubbly and overtly energetic video that highlighted the main gist of Hyenas: infiltrate a spaceship-cum-shopping-mall, pilfer loot (the relics of a ruined earth), and escape before anyone else can hunt you down and take your shit.


Here they are, the scavengers.

The game itself – complete with zero-g sections that make you rethink gun fights, and special abilities that’d make even Apex Legends think ‘oh, that’s a bit much’ – seems tight. Creative Assembly knows what it’s doing, after all. These devs aren’t amateurs. Sure, the footage we clocked was alpha and some of the animations and collisions are a bit unfinished, but the thrust of the game is there: teams of three, each with a set of specialties, but all encouraged to get stuck into each and every fight.

You and your team of pirates, the eponymous Hyenas, are on a looting mission: take as much shit as you can and land a blow on the uber-capitalist corpo-baddies in the process. The companies have cloned security guards (even life is commodified when you have enough money) and deployed them to stop you dead in your tracks. To make matters worse, there are also up to five other teams of human players set on taking loot for themselves, too.

Think of a battle royale shrunken down, injected with Borderlands’ DNA, and shoved into a spaceship prison that doubles as a mall. That’s the USP. You can play as Doc Hotfix, who thinks he’s in a video game (yes, really), a deadeye sniper with an attitude problem, a drag queen that can literally use sass as a shield to protect her from bullets, or a metalhead ballerina that can kill gravity on a whim and float off – probably flipping the Vs to whoever is behind her. The Pro, clearly influenced by 1991 classic Point Break, wears a Nixon mask on his robberies. The references come off a bit ‘Family Guy’, you know?


The foam grenade looks like a ton of fun to use.

It’s All A Bit Much. But hey, them’s the breaks – that’s what these sorts of games have got to do these days. At least Hyenas has an identity, and it’s not a predatory free-to-play effort kitbashed together from whatever assets proffer the lowest cost-per-item on the Unreal Asset store. It’s hard to say at this point, but the game seems decent: sniping a hired AI goon, throwing a foam grenade to immobilize his power loader-wearing mate and then turning around to find another team of three Hyenas – armed to the teeth – is a cool prospect. Looting vaults, savaging waves of AI idiots, and then having the real threat come out of nowhere? It’s like Destiny’s Gambit mode (with the mental age of a 15-year-old).

The most unpalettable thing about it all isn’t the drag queen clicking her fingers and sending bullets back to sender, a la Bioshock. Nor is it the ‘kitten bomb’ you can use to clear out a whole arena full of enemies. No, it’s the obtuse Sega easter eggs crammed into every spare orifice Hyenas has. The loot in the demo we saw? A doll of the renowned Sega mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog. The bomb you use to blast open vault doors? A Sega Mega Drive (or Sega Genesis, if you’re a heathen) wired up to act like a plastic explosive.


Look, a Rubix cube! I know what that is!

Space! The one place that’s been consumed by capitalism.

Why are you going out of your way to loot VHS players, betamax tapes, Walkmans (or their brand-neutral siblings) and other relics of a doomed earth if you can just pull a Mega Drive out your ass and use it to blow up a door, anyway? Narrative pitfalls aside, it just feels a bit… odd. There are some lovely visual ideas in Hyenas – entire piazzas dedicated to musical instruments of days gone by, zero-g sections illuminated by GTA-style sardonic adverts – but the Sega nods all feel a bit trite. Look closer and you’ll see Fall Guys, and League of Legends, too. Critics of self-referential comedy, look away now.

Certain elements of the game’s try-hard nature are palettable: even the drag queen’s ‘oh no she di’nt’ manner has its charm, you know? But these nudge-nudge-wink-wink Sega nods feel a bit too on the nose – like a kid that thinks they’re clever for making a dodgy joke in a room full of adults.

You’d be forgiven for thinking Hyenas was free-to-play; it’s got that Apex Legends feel to it, more than anything else. But Sega says that’s not the case. I trust Creative Assembly to do right by this new IP – this new, premium IP, no less. It’s headed up by the ex-design lead for Red Dead Online, for goodness’ sake. From what I’ve seen at Gamescom, I think it’ll be nowhere near the cult hit Alien: Isolation was, and it’ll attract nowhere near the loyal fanbase of the Total War series, but it will find its niche. You just might want to mute it whilst you’re playing.


Hyenas is coming to PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S in 2023. You can sign up for the alpha now.





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