LEAP Closed Beta Preview – 2022’s Tribes: Aerial Assault, And I’m Here For It
Last week, I was able to hop into the closed beta test for LEAP – a fast-paced, aerial combat-focused first-person shooter from indie developer Blue Isle Studios. From the moment I stepped foot into the large, open arenas, I felt at home. LEAP has all the makings of other modern, successful team-based first-person shooters – almost like a hybrid of Apex Legends and Fortnite. However, I walked away from the beta excited about the nostalgic feeling that LEAP gave me, namely in the way that it feels like a spiritual successor to Tribes: Aerial Assault.
Released in 2002 for PS2, Tribes: Aerial Assault felt like PlayStation’s answer to Xbox’s Halo. Obviously, the latter went down as the far more successful title, but Tribes certainly had its own devoted player base – namely, PS2 owners who were fortunate enough to have the console’s network adapter to allow online play. I was one of those players, and if I were to have kept track of my time playing Tribes: Aerial Assault, I have no doubt that it would fall into the top-5 of my most-played titles. My friend and I would spend hours upon hours playing the aerial-based shooter where you could most commonly find us in enemy bases, sabotaging their systems and spawning areas with C4 detonators.
LEAP provides far less opportunity for griefing other teams (which is a good thing), but it just feels like a revamped, higher-octane version of the Tribes franchise.
During the beta, I played a handful of matches that featured the Control game mode – teams were tasked with controlling the most points around the map before they ran out of resources. It was a familiar gameplay experience if you’ve played any other major FPS multiplayer title, but the wide-open maps and jetpack/hoverboard abilities provided a different type of flavor, especially when it came to combat.
An arsenal of guns, grenades, and special abilities are available to you, each one feeling good, whether it be its damage ability or its bullet drop (for those long-range shots). LEAP almost requires you to be constantly on the move, whether you’re running, hovering, or flying while shooting at the enemy team. It’s incredibly fast-paced and took a bit of getting used to when I first started playing. However, thanks to the lengthy (but not overly long) matches, I was able to pick it up with a few minutes of playing (and after a few deaths that left me asking, “What the hell just happened?”).
LEAP is a very team-based game. You may have some success as a lone wolf, but at least when it comes to the Control game mode, you’ll ultimately do better as a team. Even for its beta, Blue Isle Studios appears to have done well to create a game that is based in teamwork, which makes sense given that the game has been in development for ten years. Once I figured out that I needed to be a team player, I started dying less and racking up more kills en route to my team’s victories.
The only nit-picky issue I ran into during my time in the beta was that I often spawned right in front of an enemy player, only to end up killed from point-blank range. Even if I picked a less populated area to spawn in, there was often someone waiting for me. I don’t think that this was a result of spawn-camping – the game is too fast-paced for someone to really get away with that sort of thing. I just hope that the spawning system is tuned just a bit more for its full release.
Other than that, LEAP has shot its way up to the very top of my most-anticipated list. I admittedly haven’t been very good at some of the more recent FPS titles, but LEAP is definitely a game that I could see myself playing for a long, long time. At the very least, it has me jumping LEAP-ing for joy.
No date has been revealed yet, but LEAP will soon be making its way to Steam Early Access.