The FPS genre is massive, but in general it tends to skew towards an older audience – after all, going around shooting stuff in a violent manner tends to be less family friendly for obvious reasons.

So the field is pretty wide open for a more colourful and relatively harmless shooter; games such as Fortnite that almost fit the description are machines for endless grinding and predatory microtransactions, so Nerf Legends should have been able to waltz in and capture the flag in a really empty sector, claiming it pretty much all for itself.

Early footage looked pretty promising too – great usage of the Nerf licence, with plenty of real Nerf guns recreated in-game, colourful environments and characters – even plenty of multiplayer options to ensure that the game felt like a grown up FPS, albeit a non-lethal one.

Yet the game has launched in an absolutely terrible state. The customisation options are incredibly limited, the ‘digital deluxe’ bonus content is laughably thin for the price and worst of all, it’s an absolute mess from a technical standpoint. Even during the tutorial levels with zero enemies present, the frame rate is all over the place – it’s jerky, there’s significant lag and the controls feel pretty unresponsive too. Even prior to getting into the tutorial, the intro has terrible compression and appalling lip-syncing, with the character animation completely failing to match with what’s being said.

Online matchmaking seems to be broken too, kicking players out to the menu when trying to connect. It’s an unmitigated disaster and though the game has been put together by a small team on what must have been a threadbare budget, there’s absolutely no excuse to have launched the game in the clearly unfinished state it’s in.

Note also that the frame rate is appallingly inconsistent even on Series X, which is what I was playing it on; there’s no way that the game’s awful performance would have been unknown by the developers or publishers. It’s really not a good look for anyone involved.

With even blockbuster games from high profile publishers – such as Cyberpunk 2077 – launching in clearly unfinished states, it’s becoming ever more common to see situations like this. However, it’s a real shame to see it occurring with a small studio and publisher who must have overspent on the licence and under-budgeted on development; it’ll be the dev team who are likely to face the brunt of the criticism when the issues with Nerf Legends are brought to the attention of more gamers over the coming weeks – and it’ll be them who are no doubt overworked as they race to fix it too.

I really hope they can turn the situation around and deliver on the promise of the footage and the general concept, but as it stands right now, Nerf Legends is a game that’s clearly unfinished and in no fit state to be on sale. Avoid until further notice.

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