PAX West 16 – South Park: The Fractured But Whole Hands-On Preview – All About That Bass (PS4)

After releasing South Park: The Stick of TruthSouth Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker swore they would never create a video game again. After E3 2015, they proved that you really do never say never as they are back on board with South Park: The Fractured But Whole. The creator duo said they learned a lot from The Stick of Truth, and they want to take those little lessons to create something even better for the South Park RPG franchise. From the little I was able to actually play—not watch in a structured presentation, but play—it appears that they have done it.

No One Is Playing Fantasy Games Anymore

The new kid may have been crowned king at the end of The Stick of Truth, but none of the kids care in the slightest. Who’s playing fantasy games anymore? It’s the superhero genre that’s hot right now, putting the new kid right back where he started from the last game. He will have to work his way into the game once more, and as he does so, he learns that the kids have divided factions once again. No one is truly safe.

My hands-on demo wasn’t anything different from what we saw at E3 in their presentation. This time, I got to play it for myself and discover how the controls feel, how the new turn-based combat works, and, most importantly, pick my superhero character. There are quite a few superhero styles to choose from, from Cyclops to Flash to the Thing to Psylocke, but only three styles were unlocked for my demo out of the 12 available. Since I’ve gotten hooked into reading Flash comics again, I chose the speedster style. 

And as someone who does read these comics, I can assure all comic book nerds that the writers have indeed done their homework when it comes to these characters and their abilities. For example, the speedster’s ultimate ability is the Multiverse Punch, where the speedster runs so quickly he is able to break space and time to deliver multiple punches across the multiple parallel universes. To the layman, that simply sounds cool and like something a speedster could potentially do. The comic book nerds will nod their heads approvingly with the lovely reference to comic book lore. 

South Park Fractured but Whole PS4 Speedster

Tactical Turn-Based Lite

The Stick of Truth was traditional turn-based combat for RPGs. Each side takes a turn in combat, and only one character per side can go in their respective turn. The Fractured But Whole introduces the concept of tactical movement with each turn. Each character has a grid showing where they can move as well as where their attacks will land on the opposing team’s grid. Most tactical turn-based games have a limit with how far a character can move as well as which attacks they can make by requiring AP or something similar to move and attack. Once the AP is depleted, nothing else can be done during that turn. The Fractured But Whole is more of a tactical turn-based lite system. Characters can move as much as they want before the attack, but only in the allowed area, which is determined by the character’s class and abilities. After moving, the character can use any attack they wish, providing they have ability points to do so.

Moving during a turn not only puts characters in prime positions for unleashing devastating attacks, but it also provides a defensive strategy as well. If a character is injured they can move out of potential harm’s way before eating a burrito to heal. Stronger tank characters may want to move in front of the weaker characters to protect them while they store power to release their ultimate attack and save the day.

My gameplay session is below, so you can see it in action. Yes, I pressed the wrong button and healed instead of attacking with the Human Kite. It happens.

Ubisoft explained to me that Matt and Trey have reconfigured the town of South Park a little bit due to the events of The Stick of Truth and what has been going on in the TV show over the last season. The layout of the map is pretty much the same, but there are more layers underneath, which should provide a new and yet familiar experience to those who played the first game. I personally can’t wait to see which collectibles will be up for grabs as well as which popular characters from the show will pop up. I really hope the PC fraternity makes an appearance.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole will release December 6, 2016.