I’m a massive Ratchet & Clank fan. The first handful of games in the franchise are some of the earliest games that I remember completing to 100%. I can’t help but feel that the series plateaued a little in the late PS3 days, which is probably why we haven’t seen a new game in almost 10 years. When playing the 2016 reimagining of the original game, I thought the series had peaked visually, with cutscenes and gameplay almost impossible to distinguish between.
This all changed the second I laid eyes on proper 4K gameplay footage of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. I had the opportunity to watch 40 minutes of gameplay from earlier portions of the game, and the first thing that I noticed (especially after going back to the 2016 game) is just how great it looks.
Ratchet, Clank and the band of characters are so much more detailed, there’s way, way more particle effects on screen, physics seem more realistic and enemies seem to be a lot more believable in the sense that you really get to see their instant reaction to every bullet or wrench hit.
Not only does the game seem much more cinematic (which is likely thanks to Insomniac’s experience with games such as Spider-Man and Sunset Overdrive), there were a number of times where Ratchet or Rivet just stopped, with the camera panning behind them and the scenery looking absolutely stunning. If there’s one area that’s always been a tad forgettable, it’s the story, and that looks all set to change here. The characters in the game have always been great, but I’m genuinely intrigued find out not only what happens, but to discover the rest of the alternate universe characters.
In the way of gadgets, there’s favourites such as the Hookshot which I saw get unlocked, allowing Ratchet to access new areas, but Ratchet seems to have new abilities such as a dash technique, which looks just as gorgeous as it does useful, and also hover boots which allows Ratchet/Rivet to get around quickly.
Something that I noticed throughout the gameplay is that movement plays a much bigger part in this game than others. You’ll go from a grind rail, to wall dashing, to using your hover boots in seconds, using each to either get away from enemies or get a better spot in the level to take them on. Gameplay seems like it’ll be much more dynamic than it has been in the past.
The weapons in the game are just as insane as ever. In similar fashion to Returnal, you can half press the R2 button in order to lightly fire a gun, or push it down all the way to go full blown, unloading an entire clip of ammo, or shooting at a faster pace.
In typical Ratchet & Clank fashion, the best guns are the most insane ones, and there’s a lot of them here. According to Creative Director, Marcus Smith, there’s more new weapons than returning ones.
“There are only a few returning weapons. Those did fit a slot that we felt was needed and it’s always hard with any sequel in the fact that you’re damned if you do damned, if you don’t. There are people who are very excited to see returning weapons and then what we hear the most out of any fan feedback is we’re tired of seeing weapons come back and back. So we did err on the side of trying to do as many unique new weapons as possible.” said Smith.
My favourite of the new ones that I saw was the Topiary Sprinkler, which quickly turns enemies into greenery and makes them lifeless. Watching each enemy quickly turn into greenery, felt like something that couldn’t have been achieved in previous generations.
Following on from the last few games, weapons can be upgraded by being used, and you’re able to purchase new ones from the shop. I found it super interesting that Ratchet and Rivet both share weapons and abilities. Whilst it’s slightly disappointing that Rivet doesn’t have any of her own abilities, it does make sense from a consistency point of view.
“So between the two Lombaxes, there aren’t any differences and the reason that is originally we had them different and what we noticed right away is that players would get frustrated the moment they hit an issue where they couldn’t use something that one of the other characters had. So, to remove that mental mapping obstacle we made them have the same economy upgrades, so anytime the player invests anything in the character it will continue throughout the rest of the game.” said Smith.
Throughout the lengthy gameplay video, I got to see a bunch of rifts, which are the biggest new part of this game and add to the gameplay being much more dynamic as I spoke about earlier. Rifts can be used to quickly get around the level (it’s seriously instant), to new levels and also to optional parts of the maps that are used to access mini games and the like. It never got old seeing Ratchet or Rivet quickly pull themselves through a rift to a completely different part of the level instantly.
“We have a few different aspects of rifts and dimensionality. When we were developing the game, we were trying to come up with ways of using different traversal mechanics, which is the rift tether that we showed, where you’re able to whip yourself from one area of the map to another. We also have places called “pocket dimensions” that are kind of one-off mini-game sort of areas, that are optional and found throughout the world.” said Smith.
The biggest question that I wanted answered, and the thing that I suspect a lot of you will be here to know is if this will be worth $120. From what I’ve seen so far, this looks every bit as much of a top-tier AAA Sony game as any other that I’ve seen. Whilst the last few Ratchet & Clank games were developed by a secondary Insomniac team, the entire team is working on this one and it shows.
“For us, it was much more important that we were delivering a full length Ratchet and Clank experience and we haven’t really done that since A Crack In Time on the PS3, so that was the ultimate decision-maker. This was going to be a full-length Ratchet and Clank game and from there, we just needed to make sure that it is definitively a PlayStation 5 version of that, which means better graphics and everything looks, plays and feels better.” said Smith
Everything from the graphics, to the story, to the detail in animation and the refreshing gunplay all look to be top notch. I genuinely believe this could be one of the first must-have PS5 exclusives, and can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is out exclusively on PS5 on June 11th.