Friends Vs Friends Preview: Watch Your Head

The Raw Fury loft in San Francisco is an easy place to miss. Considering the publisher’s attention-seizing reputation, the inconspicuous building seems off-brand. But inside, I’m ready to check out Friends vs Friends, a game exploding with all the personality the locale is missing. And it’s what’s inside that counts because I have a great time with this over-the-top gun duel title every time I play it.

Stepping through the unassuming threshold and into an open space set up with demo-ready computers, I meet Brainwash Gang co-founders Beatriz Ruiz-Castillo and Edu Verz. We quickly jump into a match, and, spoiler alert, I get destroyed.

Plopped into a grimy rooftop, I shuffle through my gun-manifesting, ability-granting cards. My hand includes a boomstick, which I fail to use in any beneficial way, and a picture of an oversized pair of buck teeth in an equally enlarged skull. Unsurprisingly, it’s labeled Big Head and laconically reads, “Their head grows.” I select this and watch my opponent’s cranium enlarge, making a headshot much easier — not that this helps me escape defeat.

After the quick, hectic battle of bullets. The developers take me through the list of all seven current characters. Each as vibrant as they are grungy, the faces behind the guns are all anthropomorphized teenage animals with their own special trait and background. I note a duck that gets a health-boosting card every round (featuring a plant not legal in every state), the bear seems to be explosion-resistant, and the moose is blessed with a double jump.

Asking the creators which are their favorites, Verz answers straightforwardly saying he likes to pick the hare as it can move faster. His fellow co-founder had a slightly funnier take on the question. She explains she enjoys the duck (the one with the semi-legal green thumb from above) because something about the character reminds her of Verz. After a rolling round of laughter, I convince Ruiz-Castillo to give me a rematch.

This time I’m dealt a mind-blowing combo. One of my cards grants me a sniper rifle while another depicts a dangerously unprotected brain. As the developer’s character runs into view, I trigger the card, which causes my rival’s brain to pop out. At this point, the smallest nick would secure a win, and I place a long-range shot into the squishy target.

While this card quickly becomes my favorite, the developers argue the generally most loved one in the game is the Nuke. As the name implies, playing this game-changer transforms the map into a desolate wasteland. But what people mostly don’t realize is playing a second Nuke actually sends you to the moon. With the end of development in mind, Ruiz-Castillo and Verz promise there are many more cool options to come.

At launch, they aim to have ten total characters and over sixty cards to collect, most of which will be upgradeable. And though players will buy card packs with in-game currency to reveal new weapons and actions, the co-founders are vehemently against pay-to-win and microtransactions. They insist anyone can earn everything just by playing.

Despite the lack of release date at the moment, the team is already thinking about post-launch content. They show me an early look at the plaza, an in-game hub brimming with stores, NPCs, and even — if you choose — social opportunities. Ruiz-Castillo and Verz say this will be the launching pad for various DLCs which will add more characters, cards, and further expanding content.

I’m keeping an eye out for more information on this bombastic PVP shooter this year. With luck, I’ll be jumping into frantic one-on-one matches in Friends vs Friends soon.

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