We originally reviewed Biomutant from developer Experiment 101 in May last year, now we’ve a PS5 version to cast our eye over. Though we wish we’d just waited and got the free PS5 upgrade that all other owners have now got too. Due to our having played the EU version originally (almost 48 hours ploughed in), the much vaunted save import didn’t work at the outset due to our having the US version for review.
The PS5 version gains all that you might expect including support for adaptive triggers and the usual haptic feedback. Those activity cards are also supported, though in our almost two years of PS5 ownership, we’ve barely used them. Along with a locked 30 fps at 4k quality mode or a performance mode of 60 fps at 1440p, E101 have rolled out the pretty. That’s not to say that Biomutant wasn’t pretty to start with.
After an intriguing cutscene showing a rodent-like creature encountering an unknown mutagen, you’re thrown into some expository storyline showing how the state of play came to be. In effect, the world as we know it is destroyed and all that remains are evolved rodents and various other creatures.
Anyway, after our wee save file hiccup we had a crack at starting the campaign once again. The opening section where you learn combat wasn’t as onerous as we remembered it being, showing the vibrancy of the gameworld well, even in the context of a bunker.
Hereafter, this is mostly a reiteration of our original review, as Biomutant is fundamentally the same game.
Your first point of action is to choose one of six breeds, all loosely analogous to rodents and various canines. We guess it’s to illustrate the fact that in the indeterminate period between the fall of human civilisation, all the animals got down to it and in combination with the various pollutants, we got these chimera as a result.
It’s all a nice way to come up with some procedurally generated beastie that becomes your de-facto avatar going forward. Next you choose one of five classes which best suit your respective play style. We’re very much the cheese it and only engage in melee when we’re out of ammo sorta player, so we went with the commando class. The remaining classes are dead-eye, psi-freak, saboteur and sentinel. You can probably work it out for yourself as to their respective strengths.
The starting chapter appears to be very binary in terms of the agency it gives you at the beginning of the story, though it does set out your stall early on as to whether your aim is to save the world or condemn it. Also there’s a good vs evil morality thread throughout, wholly dependent on your actions, though other than a few unlockable abilities, it doesn’t make a huge amount of difference. Some NPCs will respond a little differently if you’re transparently evil too.
Ah, NPCs. There’s quite a few. Almost as soon as you encounter one you’re given a side quest. Before you know it your quest log will be groaning under the strain of the sheer number you’re given as you play. It’s not quite Ubisoft openworld levels of being overwhelmed, but not far off it either.
Thankfully when you do a multi-part side quest, typically a minigame involving an archaic artifact like a microwave or a record player, only the current step is shown on the map. It saves lots of fruitless searching in most instances, the only problem you’ll have in some cases being one of elevation. These minigames are stupidly easy for the most part, rotation puzzles with little to no challenge. Though for them to be too difficult would be daft too.
We’ve avoided the obvious elephant in the room until now, but let’s face it, parallels with Switch darling Breath Of The Wild are obvious, even down to a bug following you around. It’s called an automaton and you can upgrade it, coming in very handy during the boss fights after the first. Additionally, you also get a glider very much like that Link is equipped with.
Oddly your journey is narrated by the disembodied voice of David Shaw-Parker, prolific videogame voice talent as well as jobbing actor. The problem with his delivery is that it brings to mind any number of kids TV shows, sure enough he voiced a Mr Men special in the ’90s. The developers picked up on prior review feedback as there’s now an option to lessen the frequency of his interjections. We don’t mind them too much as it happens.
What we do mind is the weird disconnect between the subtitled gobbledegook from the various NPCs. Your automaton, also voiced by DSP, is meant to be translating for you. It might be a practicality in the United Nations, but in the context of a game it made for a weirdly stilted experience eighteen months ago, and remains so.
Combat remains a little infuriating if we’re honest, especially when you’re up against a larger damage sponge in an enclosed area. Usually we find ourselves strafing around the bigger enemies attacking them from range, but in a debris filled corridor, we found ourselves rapidly overwhelmed. Thank goodness for autosave then.
Eventually you’ll prevail and in a few cases, you’ll return to exact revenge against those that wronged you. Admittedly we were helped by unearthing an absurdly overpowered laser rifle from a loot cache we found as a reward from a miniboss. On the subject of loot, it’s plentiful. Unlike Fallout or Skyrim, you’re not subjected to any sort of weight limits so you can hoover up anything and everything. Most of it is outright trash gear but every so often you’ll get a rare item.
As well as gear, as you level up you’ll get upgrade points across four distinct types, firstly bioblobs from the environment. These allow you to unlock mutations, in effect buffs you can use in the midst of combat. You also have upgrade points that unlock perks such as extra clip sizes. Then there’s psi-points that give additional mutations, but they’re also dependent on your dialogue choices. Helpfully, while your disposition might be overwhelmingly good as ours is, you can throw the odd point into dark options, if only to unlock the psi abilities.
As you encounter different biomes, you’ll also encounter various different areas affected by pollutants; low oxygen in one, radiation another, extreme heat in one more and finally toxicity. You’ll have access to a mech to get through the hypoxic environments, but for the other areas you’ll need to find the respective protective suit. These are found by finding a ‘pingdish’ aka a radar station that lets you track down the suit at a nearby location. These give 100% protection against the environment they’re geared against, so you don’t have to worry about exposure limits. Handily, you can set gear presets to switch from your normal gear to the protective suits as you need them.
You’ll also get access to animals you can tame and use as mounts in the classic MMO style, one can even be used to pull down obstacles. Similarly, one of the vehicles can be used to clear debris patches on water, which then lets you fish for, yes, more loot!
We mentioned the cutscene at the outset showing the mutation as it happens, the reality is a little more mundane. We can only assume that’s part of the issue many other reviewers had with it. Admittedly it takes a little while for it to hit its stride and it can feel a bit directionless on occasion, but Biomutant gripped this reviewer for far longer than we expected last year.
We just wish that when we eventually did manage to import our save and carry on the story, those trophies we’d already unlocked on PS4 would do the same here, a bit like No Man’s Sky did with the PS5 port. As it is, we got a trophy for beating twenty bandits, then soon after got a trophy for fully upgrading all of our melee abilities. Without having any of the prior trophies for the same skill tree.
Much as we enjoyed Biomutant this first time round, we don’t fancy replaying the entire campaign just to get all the trophies we’d already got again on PS5. One thing that has improved significantly since the orignal release is Biomutant’s stability. It was a definite problem with the early PS4 version until several patches in. By contrast, the PS5 version is rock solid. Forty hours so far speaks volumes put it that way. The sheer number of sidequests you pick up along the way are ridiculous, granted. And while what’s here isn’t flabbergastingly original, it’s fun with it.
Think of Biomutant as the lass at work you get to know and she turns out to be a right laugh and fun to be around. If you look beyond the superficial flaws, Biomutant on PS5 is still a keeper.
+ Despite the derivative nature, a lot of fun
+ Good quality PS5 port with well implemented features
+ Greater than the sum of its parts somehow
- Puzzles are one note really
- Combat is generally uninspired
- PS4 to PS5 save import doesn't unlock storyline trophies you'd already unlocked