Sunset Overdrive is out this week -- today Stateside -- and it brings the fun to Xbox One. Sunset City is your playground to traverse, grind, shoot, bounce and generally rampage around, but this anarchic and vibrant experience contains an unexpected amount of depth to get stuck into.
Have you read our in-depth review? Good. Now it's time for me to share my expertise in a spoiler-free rundown of how to make the most of Sunset Overdrive and how to thrive in the colourful punk rock apocalypse. Punk arockalypse. Pu-rock-alypse?
Let's do this.
10: Keep it moving!
Sunset Overdrive is designed around mobility and verticality. Every horizontal surface is grindable, every wall is a potential platform, every car is a trampoline and the entire city is a high-velocity playground. However, you'll also be punished by hordes of enemies that will mob you, dial in your position and otherwise brutalise you if you ever slow down. Or worse, spent more than a few seconds on the floor.
So as a basic piece of starting advice, keep moving! You should always know where your next grind rail or bounce pad is, thinking one step ahead, and if you ever find yourself falling to the ground your first thought should be getting airborne as soon as possible. Remember that instantly reversing direction during a grind can buy you extra time, avoid incoming projeciles or allow you to finish off any stragglers.
A simple point, but one that will serve you well. Keep it moving. Keep it moving. Keep it moving. Learn and repeat it as a mantra.
9: Combo linking 101: master the air dash...
Sunset Overdrive's upgrade system and traversal are tied together by a style combo system that continually increases as you chain moves together. More powerful amps and upgrades activate as your combo meter ramps up, but by the same token, you'll often find yourself hurtling towards the ground and finding your combo multiplayer erased as a result. Thankfully there are a number of incredibly useful linking moves that can keep you high and dry.
The first is the air dash, which unlocks in the early game. A simple tap of the right bumper will boost you a considerable distance in mid-air, usually more than enough to reach a distant grind rail or wall run and keep your combo intact. It resets after each time you make contact with a grind, platform, bounce pad or wall, so use it often, and consider tying it in with the water-dash (pressing X just before you hit the water's surface) for extra forward motion.
8: ... and the emergency dive bomb super-jump!
The air dash may be useful, but it often requires some forward planning. What if you're shooting towards the ground without any way of pulling off a traversal move, with a mob of Overdrive Mutants waiting to rip your face off? Is this the end? Is all your hard work for nothing?
No way. There's one emergency 'break in case of accidental suckage' linking move that can keep your combo intact. Pull off a dive bomb (ground pound) by pressing B in midair, then just as you connect, press A to trigger a massive super jump that will usually let you find your way to a power line.
Seriously, use this move all the time. It will preserve your combos, deal massive damage, ramp up style and save your bacon to boot.
7: Make the most of the voice acting
This is a piece of general advice rather than a survival tip, but it's one that a number of critics haven't touched on. Though many players will default to the male hero, voiced by Yuri Lowenthal, I personally feel that the female protagonist brings a lot more personality and energy to the role. Stephanie Lemelin does a fantastic job, clearly enjoying all the meta craziness rather than just sarcastically putting it down, and you'll cheat yourself out of a real treat if you don't check it out.
You can change gender at any time, so there's no excuse.
6: Unlock new amps in Chaos Squad
Chaos Squad multiplayer is an absolute blast and a ton of fun. Even when it's just a confusing mess of fireworks, explosions and acid. As such, it's a great way to eke out the endgame content, but it's also a useful way of unlocking some fantastic amps doled out as rewards for completing the final defensive objective.
5: Keep an eye on your Overdrives
Sunset Overdrive contains a number of upgrade systems, but from the mid-game, you'll be granted access to a range of passive buffs that can turn the tide of carnage in your favour. Performing certain actions, from killing particular enemies to pulling off traversal moves, will continually unlock badges to trade in for these so-called Overdrives, and it's all too easy to forget about them thanks to the slightly inconvenient UI design.
Don't. Instead, continually check back in to see which upgrades you've unlocked, and choose a selection that benefit your playstyle. As a general rule, I'd recommend the basic health upgrade (40% extra HP when fully upgraded), Grind and Bounce style point upgrades (allowing you to increase your style level much faster by performing basic moves) and ammo capacity for your favourite weapons (automatic, single-shot and/or deployable). The choice is yours, though, so be sure to delve into the menus every half hour or so to see what you can afford.
4: Forget fast travel, grab pickups instead
Sunset Overdrive has a fast travel system. Don't use it.
You could instantly travel between safe zones and challenges, but not only will you be cheating yourself out of enjoying the fantastic traversal mechanics, but you'll also miss out on a host of collectibles dotted around the environment. Toilet paper, Fizzie balloons, soiled sneakers and neon signs can all be traded in for new Amps that can upgrade your character and confer crazy new effects, and you'll primarily encounter them if you explore the city.
In fact, I'd only recommend fast travel if you've taken a lot of damage and need to bug out.
3: Get Amped!
Amps are genuine game-changers. Activating at different style levels, these active upgrades can grant you amazing new abilities or lead to hilarious non-sequitur funtimes, and they come in a number of different flavours.
Melee Swing Amps and Dive Bomb Amps activate at Style Level 2, and typically increase the damage or utility of your attacks. They're a great way of adding AoE to your abilities or other damaging effects, including fireballs, tornadoes and shards of damaging glass.
Hero Amps also activate at Style Level 2, and confer some very useful functionality. They're generally a mix of the sublime and the ridiculous, from damaging dodge rolls to force fields and even a hilarious narrator who announces your every move. You can equip two of these, so mix and match until you find a selection you enjoy.
Epic Amps activate at Style Level 3 and pack a serious punch. They typically provide insane offensive firepower and crowd control, such as lightning storms or the ability to fry enemies standing next to grind rails, meaning that they'll buff your survivability, damage and style. It's hard to go wrong here -- just make sure that when you've found an Epic Amp you like, try to upgrade it to its maximum possible level for extra clout.
Finally, Weapon Amps activate at Style Level 2, and modify the specific weapon to which they're attached in a number of satisfying ways. Sometimes they add status effects such as stun, frezze or DoT, sometimes they'll randomly trigger an enormous explosion or extra damage, and in some cases even cause hilariously useful extra side effects such as spawning a grim reaper in to damage surrounding foes. It's worth noting that you can cause some complex combos by choosing the right amps, such as adding a damaging Amp to the Freeze Bomb to instantly shatter frozen foes.
2: Pack the best boomstick for the job
You can always rely on Insomniac to bring the boomsticks, and Sunset Overdrive contains an assortment of utterly crazy weapons to try out. They're all fun to use, but upon deeper inspection, you'll discover that they're all highly situational and effective against different types of enemy. You'll therefore want to pack a varied selection fit for any occasion, so here's a look at some of the most useful guns in your arsenal. And some of my favourites, natch.
Dirty Harry: This immensely powerful pistol will one-shot Scabs at higher levels and is generally effective against pretty much anything. Consider setting foes on fire with the Flaming Compensator first for bonus damage.
Freeze Bomb: A uniquely tactical boomstick that freezes a crowd of foes solid, but deals no direct damage. It's a great way to take out entire mobs of OD mutants if followed up with a ground slam, but also one of the first guns that's effective against FizzCo robots (who resist most of your starting arsenal). Freeze them, then finish them off with a slam or two, for easy kills.
Acid Sprinkler: A static tower that sprays damaging DoT acid on anything that passes by. Perfect for defensive missions as you can fire and forget, guarding an area and freeing you to head off to other flashpoints, but also a useful way of quickly taking down bigger enemies. Fire one, then ensure that your target stays in the zone by grinding around the immediate area.
TNTeddy: A supremely useful rocket launcher. It launches rockets. Usefully. Supremely. #NuffSaid
The Shocker: A chain lightning gun that provides a great equaliser against FizzCo bots, or can damage/stun entire mobs while focusing fire on bigger threats. Might be worth grabbing the Charge Beam too, when you can afford it, as a way of smashing hulking mechs and Hurkers.
The Roman Candle: What's better than an assault rifle that fires regular bullets? An assault rifle that shoots fireworks, that's what. As devastating as it is cathartic, The Roman Candle can wipe out entire armies effortlessly and is a breeze to use on the move. You might need an ammo upgrade Overdrive to make the most of it, though.
That's just the tip of the iceberg, and The Big Lebowski fans should keep their eyes peeled for an unsubtle yet fantastic reference. Remember that using your favourite weapons regularly will earn them experience and power them up even further... and that weapon amps can make powerful guns even more viable!
1: Go Play!
But at the end of the day, who am I to tell you what to do?
Sunset Overdrive is all about rebellion and self-expression, so don't let me boss you around. It's your apocalypse. It's your playground. Go play, hone your own playstyle, and let us know how you thrive and survive in the comments!