Compulsion Games’ We Happy Few turned heads at Microsoft’s E3 press conference this year. The alternate history, drug-fuelled take on 1964 England was a breath of fresh air amidst an otherwise familiar lineup of games. Thanks to an early access release, people wouldn’t have to wait long before they could get their hands on it, either.
The showing was a sure-fire way to grab gamers’ attention, but, as we’ve seen time and again, hype can court controversy.
A similarly sizeable issue is the weighting of loot drops, as you’re occasionally tasked with crafting a certain item to progress. Finding the relevant ingredients took us hours of scouring the same area in one instance, the required material often spawning in nonsensical places you wouldn’t naturally think to look. Progress should never hinge on random chance, it’s incredibly frustrating and unfair.
Despite its undoubted foibles, we’d like to allay some fears by reiterating the obvious: We Happy Few is in its infancy. Finding issues now isn’t only to be expected, but should be welcomed and fed back to an attentive Compulsion Games in aid of building a stronger final product.
What’s more, the better-implemented systems in place make for an already engaging package on the whole. Procedural generation alters the entire layout of the retro-futuristic world - as well as encounters and objectives, to a lesser extent - to quell frustrations and increase replayability as you independently learn the harsh rules of the game through its permadeath system. A cast of simultaneously amusing and disturbing NPCs occupy the shifting landscape, spouting referential gibberish that highlights the level of social decay in Wellington Wells’ thoroughly beguiling dystopia.
Even for its strengths, paying money to access a preview build isn’t something we’d ever really advise. Considering it redacts narrative elements outside of a few select tidbits, it's inherently flawed, depriving many users of what they most want. Whilst you should approach this build with caution as a result, don’t be put off by hearsay, there’s no reason to worry about We Happy Few at this early stage.
We’ll have more on We Happy Few as it develops, as well as a review when it releases next year, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you’ve played it, let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on our forum.