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First Assault

First Assault is a free-to-play competitive first-person shooter based on the cyberpunk anime Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Players can join the fight as any member of Section 9, each with their own unique skill.

Publisher: Nexon
Playerbase: Medium
Type: MMO Shooter
Release Date: July 28, 2016 (NA / EU)
Shut Down Date: December 6, 2017
Pros: +Distinct character skills. +Skill Sync. +Permanent weapons.
Cons: -Generic FPS gameplay. -Spray pattern inconsistency. -Cyberbrain implants are temporary. -No PvE (could have done a lot more with the GitS franchise!)

Overview

First Assault Overview

Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex First Assault Online, also known as First Assault, is a free-to-play first-person shooter from Neople and Nexon. Players pick a member of Section 9, each with their own unique skills, and set out to take other players on in Team Deathmatch, Demolition, and Terminal Conquest modes. All members of Section 9 are voiced by their original English voice actors. Skills can be shared with other players via a Skill Sync mechanic. As they play, players will unlock new weapons automatically. Cyberbrain implants can be used to give players an extra edge in battle, but they have to be used carefully. Implants eventually burn out and temporarily render the implant slot unusable.

First Assault Key Features:

  • Play as Members of Section 9 play as one of your favorite members of Section 9 from the Ghost In the Shell anime or one of the new members created for First Assault.
  • Original English Voice Cast enjoy the voiceovers from the original English voice actors as you play through First Assault.
  • Fight Alongside Tachikomas successfully capturing a terminal in Terminal Conquest grants your team a Tachikoma temporarily.
  • Skill Sync share abilities such as cloaking and heat sensing with allies using Skill Sync.
  • Cyberbrain Implants gain an edge during battle with cyberbrain implants, which allow you to give your character an extra boost for several games before burning out.

First Assault Screenshots

First Assault Featured Video

Full Review

First Assault Review

By Matt Chelen

Note: This game is currently in Early Access and this review will be updated if need be when the game is released in full.

Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex First Assault Online feels like a long overdue entry in a largely disappointing catalog of video games based on the classic anime series. It is a first-person shooter set in the cyberpunk world of Ghost In the Shell. You get to play as your favorite characters from Section 9. The original English voice cast voices each of the characters. It’s a dream come true for Ghost In the Shell fans—on paper.

A Visceral Experience

The first time I loaded up First Assault, I was rather impressed. There’s a familiar feeling about it; it feels a cut above many of the free-to-play shooters I’ve played in the past. The way you are carrying bobs around when you run, the relatively low jump height, and the sound dampening when you get hit are but a few features that lend to the overall great feel. The voice acting is similarly impressive, all sounding exactly as you would imagine it should. So many little details are accounted for. The graphics are not the most impressive, but they are serviceable at worst and the character models adapt the classic anime style rather nicely.

However, I personally felt that the sound dampening could be a bit much at times. Two or three hits, taking less than half your health, could lead to upwards of ten seconds of near-deafness. It doesn’t hurt the overall experience, but it is bothersome at times.

PvP Only

First Assault is, unfortunately, a PvP-only title. The game contains no PvE elements at all. There has been talk of PvE being added based on player demand, but the odds appear to be slim at present. This won’t be a dealbreaker for everyone, but if you had dreams of running through dungeon-like PvE maps with friends and calling on Tachikomas whenever you needed help, you won’t find them realized here.

What you find instead is a fairly standard free-to-play first-person shooter. There is a unique form of point capture in which a Tachikoma or think tank will spawn to help the victorious team capture the next point, but the rest of the modes are standard fare. There is the standard team deathmatch mode and a demolition mode that ends up being a single-life elimination the majority of the time.

That being said, the game handles PvP fairly well. Given that it’s a character-based shooter in which you play as the various members of Section 9, PvP could be awkward if not handled well. You don’t really want to see Batou shoot Major Kusanagi, for example. In First Assault, you see the enemy team as generic thugs. It’s a small feature, but I found that it helped a lot with immersion. It’s still awkward to see multiple players playing the same character, but that is currently unavoidable.

Spray and Pray

By far, one of my biggest issues with First Assault is the seemingly random spray patterns. At times, your best option is to crouch and shoot in bursts, increasing your accuracy by several fold. Other times, your best bet is simply to run in with guns blazing, dodging in and out of cover as you aim only in other players’ general directions.

SMGs are the worst offenders. When close quarters combat is happening I will equip my SMG, run into a room, make sure my crosshair is on the player, and fire with reckless abandon. Even when aiming at their chests headshots are almost guaranteed as long as you can stay alive. On multiple occasions, I’ve even managed headshots from sniping distance with an SMG.

It’s an absurd system that encourages spray and pray over any real tactics. The sniper is the lone exception, but I’ve found sniping to be touchy and difficult to aim, requiring different sensitivity settings from other weapons.

Skill Sync

First Assault handles characters differently than most character-based shooters. Usually, players are required to choose a character based on the role they want to play, thus being locked into a specific loadout. In First Assault, all characters are identical except for a single skill. Kusanagi can cloak, Saito can detect opponents with heat sensing, Batou can launch rockets out of his arm, Ishikawa can place a sentry that shoots at all enemies within its range, and so on.

Each of these skills has a cooldown period and requires a certain amount of points earned through kills and completion of objectives. A second tier that increases the skill’s usefulness can be activated by saving twice as many of the aforementioned points. For example, Batou’s Tier 2 arm launcher launches two rockets instead of one.

Upon activation of skills, nearby players can sync up with you, allowing them to temporarily make use of the same skill. It is a unique system that increases the importance of activating a skill at an opportune time.

Progression

As a free-to-play game, Neople opted to implement a system of progression into First Assault. I imagine they thought that they needed to make sure players are always working towards something to encourage them to play. There are several forms of progression currently in-game that run in parallel.

There is a level system that, at present, doesn’t seem to do much. As you level up, the symbol denoting your rank will change. You will go from bronze to silver to blue to gold, from one bar to two, and so on. With each level up, you will be awarded a certain amount of GP (the in-game currency). At certain levels, you will unlock new cyberbrain sockets, allowing more implants to be active at once. Beyond that, your level doesn’t appear to affect anything. Matchmaking will match you with players of all ranks, and weapon unlocks don’t have level requirements.

After each match you earn a certain amount of TP based on how well you did. TP is then distributed to each of several in-progress unlocks that you can set manually in your armory. At any one time you can have one gun and one of each accessory set to unlock. Once the item is unlocked, you then pay GP to purchase it permanently. Several of the items you unlock will give you an outright bonus, but the bonuses are small and, more often than not, there is a trade-off.

However, not all weapons can be unlocked in this manner. Some have to be purchased from the shop using GP. Depending on the weapon you are aiming for, you could find yourself grinding GP instead of TP.

Cyberbrains

At the end of each match, you can choose one of three items as a random bonus. You will get either 10% extra GP, 10% extra experience, or a random cyberbrain implant. Each implant grants a small bonus — usually less than or equal to 10% — to movement speed or accuracy. After a few games, these implants will burn out and, for a few more games, you will have a cyberbrain slot that can’t be used.

The implants add an interesting twist on the typical gear enchanting/embedding mechanics seen in other games. You have to carefully choose what implants to use and when for maximum effect. At present, however, they don't seem to last long enough to be used effectively. Furthermore, I have concerns that they may one day add a pay-to-win element to the game, either through paying for more impressive implants or the ability to pay to have burned out implants removed faster.

Final Verdict Good

First Assault is nothing new. There are a few new twists injected into a standard formula that has been in play for quite some time, but it will ultimately feel very familiar. Despite that, the high production values, inclusion of the original voice cast, and Ghost In the Shell setting may convince you to play it over other games. At this point in time, it is not pay-to-win in the slightest. Keep in mind, however, that that could change in the future. This is the first time that we have seen a major free-to-play publisher make use of Early Access, and First Assault’s tenure may very well set a precedent.

Screenshots

First Assault Screenshots

Videos

First Assault Videos

System Requirements

First Assault System Requirements

Minimum Requirements:

Operating System: Windows 7 / 8
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.4 GHz (Dual core recommended)
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce 7600 GT / AMD Equivalent
RAM: 2 GB
Hard Disk Space: 4 GB

Recommended Requirements:

Operating System: Windows 7 / 8 / 10
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3 GHz (Dual core recommended)
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT or better
RAM: 4 GB
Hard Disk Space: 6 GB

Nexon has yet to release official system requirements for First Assault. The above First Assault system requirements are our estimates and we will revise them as soon as official data is available.

Music

First Assault Music & Soundtrack

Not available yet

Additional Info

First Assault Additional Information

Developer: Neople

Game Engine: Gamebryo

Closed Beta: April 8, 2015 - April 12, 2015 (South Korea)
Early Access: December 14, 2015 (North America)

Open Beta: July 28, 2016

Shut Down Date: December 6, 2017

Development History / Background:

Neople, the creators of Dungeon Fighter Online, began developing First Assault in 2011. Nexon secured the rights to publish the game shortly after in 2012. The game was formally revealed through a trailer at G-Star 2014. First Assault became the first project by a major free-to-play publisher to enter Early Access on December 14, 2015. The developers at Neople have previously stated that they wish to keep the game's atmosphere as close to the atmosphere established in the Ghost In the Shell anime as possible. The game launched on Steam as a free to play game in Open beta on July 28, 2016.

First Assault shut down on December 6th, 2017.

  • TianlanSha

    I used to be the biggest and most optimistic fan of this game - defending it everywhere, believing it will only get better with time. The game has been 12 months in OPEN BETA and for 12 months it has netcode issues, hitreg issues, and performance issues. Laggers can kill you and you can't kill them, you shoot people but your shots don't register and you waste 30 bullets for nothing, they just turn around and kill you with 2 bullets. You get killed behind cover and through walls, the menu is so laggy and bugged, there is no PVE.