What do you get when you mix the free-running of Assassin’s Creed with the round-based search-and-destroy action of titles like Call of Duty, Rainbow Six Siege and Valorant? The answer is Veiled Experts, a third-person round-based blaster being developed and published by Nexon.
Veiled Experts wears these inspirations well. It’s clear from the start-of-round buy menus, operator selection and even the movement itself where the ideas have come from, but they have been tweaked here by a team with no small amount of creativity, so it feels like a cohesive product, even if in a lot of ways it’s a so-so one.
Third-person shooters are generally not seen as a good fit for competitive games because with a third-person camera even the most average player can hold a corner forever, peeking and holding from relative safety. The answer here is to give players incredible mobility: players move around in every direction, tumbling around corners before opponents have a chance to land a hit.
The biggest draw here is the movement. Buying an AWP – literally just called AWP, in a move I’m not sure is a nod to Counter-Strike or outright theft – and then hurtling your way across the map, sliding, rolling and climbing to the top of a nearby roof you can use as a sniper’s nest is intoxicating. Similarly, vaulting over a shipping container to take an enemy by surprise offers up a similar hit of dopamine.
As the rounds progress, a slow circle will close in straight out of a battle royale game. This means there’s very little in the way of camping, and in the team deathmatch rounds we played during a warm up the shape of the map changed entirely, going from a long sniper corridor in some woods to a small square tucked neatly around a central building, before spiralling off to become something else. This death-field is nothing new to anyone who’s ever jumped out of a plane to try and be the last person standing, but this is an innovative use of it, even if it rarely makes an impact in the actual round-based multiplayer as people are so eager to run each other down and get killing.
The shooting itself feels a little fluffy: many of the guns do very little damage and they don’t feel like they have a substantial impact. This isn’t the case with a sniper rifle or DMR, but the assault rifles and submachine guns weren’t super satisfying. For me, this was another chance to get my parkour on and hurl myself around the map with a shotgun and sniper rifle, trying to get close-range flanks on the other players.
Still, the firefights are enjoyable. The fights themselves crackle with energy as barrels and cars explode and damage from the bombs themselves scar the map for future rounds.
When you’re taken out you’re downed, but if a teammate doesn’t revive you in time you’re dead for good. This means every single play is high risk for high reward, making it even sweeter when you land a perfect headshot (and then down them again, Fortnite style) or unleash close-range terror with a shotgun.
It’s hard to point to any specific problems in Veiled Experts. It’s fun to play and there’s a solid base here to build on. Everything has a weird hyper-real look that’s somehow more real than real, and the operators feel different enough that you could probably embrace a favourite.
Sadly, being just okay isn’t enough anymore. Ten years ago, Veiled Experts would have been guaranteed a moment of success as players flocked to enjoy its impressive traversal mechanics alongside a shooter that’s Good Enough to sink a few hours into. Now, it’s difficult to see where Veiled Experts might fit in: it seems doomed to fight forever against dwindling player counts, as the industry has been so successfully colonised by the titans of the multiplayer space.
It’s a shame, but players willing to give it a go will be rewarded with a nearly Lost Planet-esque multiplayer experience, and some of the best movement out there. There’s plenty to enjoy here, if only for a moment.
Veiled Experts launches in 2023 for PC.