FragPunk – 10 New Things You Should Know

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With the usual suspects like Overwatch 2, and Valorant dominating the space, the competitive shooter genre isn’t exactly bursting at the seams with options. This August sees Firewalk Studios’ Concord entering the fray as a new hero shooter, but perhaps more intriguing is FragPunk. Developed by Bad Guitar Studio, a subsidiary of NetEase Games, it’s a free-to-play first-person shooter launching in 2025, exclusively for Xbox Series X/S and PC.

I had a chance to go hands-on with the recent playtest and was pleasantly surprised at its bombastic presentation and responsive gunplay. Here are ten new details you should know, including what sets it apart from the competition.

5v5 Hero Shooter

At its core, FragPunk is a 5v5 shooter. You match up with four other players, each selecting a hero known as a Lancer (no duplicates allowed, at least not traditionally) and choosing weapons. The selection is decidedly more grounded than fantastical, and depending on the mode, your team attacks or defends the objective. Of course, slaying out and eliminating the opposing team before the time expires is also an option.

Is This Just Valorant?

When you first hop into FragPunk, the Valorant similarities are undeniable. Sure, there are differences – you can sprint, ability uses refresh each round, and instead of buying weapons with money, each has a set number of uses. Run out, and that weapon is no longer available for the rest of the match. There is an economy to keep track of, but this type of weapon selection is more free-form.

Otherwise, much of what you’ve seen (and probably loathed) of Valorant applies here: Carefully peeking and even camping lanes to shoot any enemies that approach, planting and disarming the bomb (known as the Convertor), creating barriers to seal off potential flanking routes, the list goes on. The gunplay feels pretty good and deceptively deep – you’re well-advised to hop into training to figure out each weapon’s spread pattern and recoil.

Playable Lancers

That “We have Valorant at home” connotation may persist when looking at certain playable heroes. Broker uses a rocket launcher and cluster grenades like Raze, but can also throw down some smokes to obscure sightlines. Nevertheless, there’s a robust set of options here inspired by one hero shooter or another.

Zephyr’s cloaking and assassination skills bring the Spy from Team Fortress 2 to mind, but she can also teleport via dagger beacon. Kismet’s detection is similar to Sova’s Recon Bolt, but she can also Rift Walk, a risk/reward endeavor since you can’t see other Lancers or their gadgets while it’s activated. Some Lancers are better based on pure utility alone, while others, like Nitro, could use fine-tuning. They’re an eclectic bunch, with unique designs aided by the over-the-top art style.

Weapons

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The variety of weapons is also pretty solid all-around, with nine categories in total – Shotgun, Submachine Gun, Assault Rifle, Light Machine Gun, Marksman Weapon, Sniper Rifle, Pistol, Utility Gun and the de facto melee weapon. Each fits its niches, though the Assault Rifles, SMGs and singular sniper tend to take precedence. The Utility Guns are interesting, allowing any team member to deploy smokes and other gadgets, while the melee weapon supports charged attacks that deal more damage.

Maps

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Four maps were available during the playtest – Naos, Tundra, Tulix and Outpost. Between the corridors, corners, boxes and doorways, you probably know what to expect with the sightlines and layouts. However, they each have some unique properties that add to the strategy. Tulix, for example, are ruins with overgrowth and crumbling walls. It’s possible to flank opponents through these openings or even crouch in the tall grass. Will the latter save you from eagle-eyed players? Probably not, but it may provide a few milliseconds to get the first shot off.

Shard Clash

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As the “Competitive” mode, Shard Clash functions much like Valorant’s Spike Rush. One team picks up the Convertor and has to plant it at one of two locations while the other has to stop them. The first to win four rounds is the victor. What sets it apart is the use of Shard Cards. Before each round, you’re dealt three random cards – the team can then spend points to activate them.

Depending on the options, it may be difficult to activate all three at the outset, but you can also choose not to activate anything and save those points for later rounds. Alternatively, you can spend Shard Points to change a card into a more suitable choice. There is some potential counterplay, especially since you can see the opposing side’s cards.

Shard Cards

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Shard Cards add all kinds of fun – and painful – modifiers to a match. You could gain +1 to all skill usage on kills, acquire HP regeneration when close to your allies, increase movement speed by 20 percent, double jump, and even make all weapons free for a round. It’s also possible to mess with the enemy team, enabling big head mode for (presumably) easier headshots, removing their healing and even swapping attacking and defending sides.

As you level up, more Shard Cards become available, and while the stronger ones demand more Shard Points, they can be game-changing, like shotguns dealing extra fire damage or activating a Blaze sword to deflect shots above the knees. Some Shard Cards also have effects that can be strengthened as you pour more Shard Points into them.

Duels

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A match of Shard Clash ends when a team reaches four round wins, but what happens if both teams are tied up, 3-3? This is when the Duels begin. Players engage in 1v1 gunfights – take down an opponent to fight the next in queue, though your health carries over between duels. Die, and your teammate is next in line. Each player can decide their place in the queue, and it’s genuinely enthralling to watch, especially when arriving at the last player who is scared witless at having to clutch.

Arcade Modes

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Outside of Shard Clash, you have Arcade Modes like Team Deathmatch and Scrimmage. As the name implies, the former sees two teams battling to reach 100 kills first. There are no restrictions on weapon choices, and abilities recharge over time. Scrimmage is like Free-For-All Deathmatch, and you can drop in while queued for some quick action. Once again, there are no restrictions on weapons, but abilities are absent, so it’s all about gunplay. If you’re keen on practising Shard Clash with other players, a playlist against AI bots is also available.

Shooting Range and Solo Training

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The Shooting Range is a must in titles like this to refine your aim and master the recoil and spread patterns of different weapons. FragPunk’s Shooting Range is pretty well-equipped, with options for stationary and moving bots, aerial targets, time restrictions, etc. You can also shoot targets from five to 40 meters to improve accuracy and measure how precisely you should tap the trigger for some weapons.

Those who want to 1v5 against bots, with no restrictions on Shard Cards can try out Solo Training. You must still plant and guard the Convertor, but each side has respawns available. As you complete matches successfully, additional difficulty options unlock, further bumping up the AI’s awareness. It may not be the best for encouraging teamwork, but Solo Training provides a decent live firing environment before hopping into Shard Clash.


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